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Articles from February 2021

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District Saves $500K in Opening Year of Conservation Program

One year into an energy conservation partnership with Cenergistic, a national sustainability company, the Dubuque Community School District has already saved $500,000 compared to expected energy costs over the same time.

The School Board receives an Environmental Excellence Certificate from Cenergistic

School Board President Tami Ryan (far left) and Buildings and Grounds Manager Bill Burkhart (far right) receive an Environmental Excellence Certificate from Cenergistic. The certificate was presented by Cenergistic Client Manager Robert Herron (center right) and Energy Specialist Abigail Hammann (center left).

“Cenergistic has studied our electricity use and discovered ways to save our district significant money on our electricity costs, and they’ve been training our staff on the specifics of the plan to make those savings happen,” said Kevin Kelleher, the district’s chief financial officer. “Every dollar saved can be redirected to enhancing the educational experience for our students.”

To improve building operations and save costs, district personnel and the program’s energy specialist act as energy watchdogs, working in tandem to audit and optimize energy-using systems across the organization to achieve peak efficiency. The energy specialist tracks energy consumption at all campuses with state-of-the-art technology to identify waste and drive conservation.

In response to COVID-related shutdowns, the energy specialist gives special attention to improving air quality and supporting facilities teams to ensure students can return to healthier classrooms. Through thousands of facility audits, she provides a continuous presence throughout district schools, identifying hazards, optimizing equipment and helping implement CDC recommendations for continued operation.

“Our district does not have the in-house expertise to understand the billing process of our local utilities or the energy use of our district equipment and come up with significant energy savings,” said Kelleher. “This is where the staff of Cenergistic help the district understand that information in order to make better consumer decisions. Our district is pleased to have partnered with Cenergistic.”

Ticket Information for IHSAA Postseason Events

The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) will utilize HomeTown Ticketing as the exclusive ticket provider for postseason lead-up events and select state tournament events.

Therefore, tickets for postseason basketball games hosted by Senior and Hempstead WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE through HomeTown Ticketing.

This includes the following games:

  • Dubuque Senior Boys Basketball on Monday, February 22
  • Hempstead Boys Basketball on Friday, February 26

Each school will provide a link to participants where family members can purchase a limited number of tickets for the game. Additionally, students will be provided with a separate link where they can purchase a ticket for the game.

Due to spectator limitations we anticipate that there will be NO general admission tickets available to the general public.

  • If general admission tickets would become available, the district will put a HomeTown Ticketing link on the official district Facebook and Twitter pages on game day for individuals to purchase a ticket.

NOTE: The digital ticket purchased through HomeTown Ticketing is the only ticket that will be accepted for these contests.

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Weather-Related Virtual Learning Days

Dear Dubuque Schools Families,

As I’m sure you know, with the three snow days we have had to date, the last day of school is currently scheduled for Friday, June 4.

Moving the school year into the next week has the potential to create significant community impact including summer programming by community partners, staff taking additional courses at area colleges, planned vacations, etc.

FOR THIS YEAR ONLY, the State of Iowa has granted schools permission to hold virtual learning days for inclement weather while allowing those days to count toward the district’s instructional time requirement.

There are no current weather forecasts that indicate an upcoming weather event, but we want to be proactive about our next steps should we encounter another one during this school year.

Moving forward, if weather impacts our in-person schedule, the district will transition to a virtual learning day rather than a closure. This day will count as a school day and participation is expected.

Should a virtual day be required, instruction for in-person students will operate similar to the fully online week held following Thanksgiving:

  • elementary students will have a scheduled class Zoom as well as access to recorded core content area lessons and assigned work
  • secondary students will attend class periods via Zoom as scheduled

Fully online students will continue instruction as they do on a normal school day.

Schools will provide additional details and expectations for logging on and completing learning for the day.

While I hope we do not have to implement this weather plan, I’m confident that we are prepared to if necessary. As with all things, I continue to appreciate your ongoing flexibility as we move through this year.

Stan Rheingans

Hempstead Students Named Candidates in U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Three Hempstead High School students have been named among more than 4,500 candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2021. Graduating seniors Samuel Durdin, Luke Kotz and Brendan Stahl were recognized with the honor.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.

A distinguished panel of educators will review these submissions and select approximately 600 semifinalists in early April. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and the U.S. Department of Education will announce the Scholars in May.

If circumstances permit all Scholars are invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by Executive Order of the President to recognize some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts.

In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields. Annually, up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars are chosen from among that year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth.


Grab N’ Go Meal Site Location and Time Change, Feb. 15

Beginning Monday, Feb. 15, the location and time for Grab n’ Go meal locations in the Dubuque Community School District will change as the district returns to primarily fully in-person learning.

No-cost meal service will be available at a Grab n’ Go meal site to all students in the fully online learning model, as well as any individual 18 or under (with no infant formula or food served), regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a district school.

New location and time:

  • Dubuque Community School District Central Office / Forum (2300 Chaney Road, located in the rear parking lot): 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

All “Grab n’ Go” meal bags will consist of a breakfast meal and a lunch meal that meets USDA meal guidelines.

Dubuque Senior Color Guard Brings Home Accolades

Dubuque Senior Color Guard with Regional AwardsThe Dubuque Senior High School Color Guard competed in the Marching Auxiliaries Classic Regional Competition in Sioux City, Iowa, on February 6, and returned with a host of awards and accolades.

The team earned a “Superior Rating Banner” for achieving a Superior Rating on all routines and also earned the “Outstanding Choreography Banner.” The team also earned two out of the five total Judges Choice Banners awarded to five performances out of the competitions 84 performances. The team is directed by Anna Barry.

Honors included:

Category: Color Guard Flag/Rifle

Performance: Let It Grow
Award: Judges Choice Award, 1st Place and Superior Rating

Category: Prop

Performance: Friend Like Me
Award: 1st Place, Superior Rating

Category: Quartet

Performance: Lorelei Walker, Maddie Wright, Jacob Brimeyer, Bailey Simon
Award: Judges Choice Award, 1st Place and Superior Rating

Category: Duets 15/16

Performance: Lorelei Walker and Bailey Simon
Award: 1st Place

Performance: Anna McClain and Gretchen Henry
Award: 2nd Place

Category: Solos 15/16

Performance: Bailey Simon
Award: 1st Place

Performance: Alec Viner
Award: 2nd Place

Performance: CJ Stuart
Award: 3rd Place

Performance: Kiki King
Award: 4th Place

Performance: Lorelei Walker
5th Place

Category: Solos 17/18

Performance: Jacob Brimeyer
Award: 1st Place

Performance: Maddie Wright
Award: 2nd Place

Category: Solo Collegiate

Performance: Anna Berry, Director
Award: 1st Place

In November, the team also earned a Division I Rating and 1st Place in Class III Color Guard at the ISDTA State Championships. At that event, soloists Jacob Brimeyer earned a Division I Rating and 1st Place in the Large School Color Guard Competition, and Bailey Simon earned 2nd Place. Maddie Wright, Lorelei Walker and Kiki King all earned Division I Ratings.


Call for Submissions: K-12 Virtual Art Exhibition

The Dubuque Community School District and the Dubuque Museum of Art invite all students to participate in the first Dubuque-Area K-12 Virtual Art Exhibition.

Students in grades kindergarten through 12 are invited to submit their artwork. All art processes, skills, and levels of expertise will be showcased. All work must be school appropriate and original student work. Please avoid submitting any work with copyright concerns.

Students may email submissions to through March 26. Be sure include the artist name, title, medium and dimension of the work.


To help move students through the artistic thinking process, we have created the following resources to support their idea development:


The Dubuque-Area K-12 Virtual Exhibition will go live on April 9, 2021 on both the Dubuque Museum of Art website and the Dubuque Community Schools website.


Any questions regarding the K-12 Virtual Art Exhibition or the submission process can be directed to:

Brad Manternach
Dubuque Community Schools
Instructional Support Leader for Visual Arts

Margaret Buhr
Dubuque Museum of Art
Director of Education





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Jefferson Middle School Student Researcher Receive Scholarship to Study Pork and Swine

Thomas Jefferson Middle School Student Abigail Schmitt is among three students in the state awarded scholarships from the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) and funded by the Iowa Pork Producers Association to support student research of pork and swine.

Abigail Schmitt

Abigail Schmitt

Schmitt was awarded $400 to support her research and present her work at one of the four science fairs and symposiums hosted in Iowa. A sixth-grader at Jefferson, she is researching animal behavior and moving pigs efficiently. Schmitt will research safe and proper ways to move pigs from one facility to another. She will study animal behavior to get an understanding of what triggers pigs to move and the best practices to direct pigs in a safe manner. Through this research she hopes to create a new system to move pigs on the farm.

Two other scholarships were awarded by IALF – one to senior Silvia Poor from Des Moines Public Schools and one to the team of Brody Moeller and Ward Fraise, both seventh-graders at Central Lee Middle School in Donnellson.

Student Abigail Schmitt with her teacher Emily Canfield

Jefferson Middle School sixth-grader Abigail Schmitt (right) celebrates her recent scholarship award with her teacher Mrs. Emily Canfield.

“We are excited to support these students,” said Joyce Hoppes of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Good science helps propel responsible pork production forward. As the nation’s top pork-producing state, it’s in every Iowan’s interest to keep pork and pork by-products as an important part of farming and the food supply.”

Students will compete with their research projects at one of the science fairs and symposiums hosted in Iowa including: the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (March 2-3, 2021 in Iowa City); the Western Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 5-20, 2021 virtually); the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair (March 8-20, 2021 virtually); or the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (March 26-27, 2021 in Ames).


Meal Sites Operating on Thursday, Feb. 4

On Thursday, Feb. 4, the Dubuque Community School District is implementing its inclement weather meal delivery plan.

No-cost meal service will be available at four Grab n’ Go meal sites to any individual 18 or under (with no infant formula or food served), regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a district school:

  • Fulton Elementary School (located in the bus drive up lane): 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Prescott Elementary School (located in the bus drive up lane): 11-11:30 a.m.
  • Washington Middle School (located at the south side main building entrance): 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Hempstead High School (located next to the softball fields): 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

All “Grab n’ Go” meal bags will consist of a breakfast meal and a lunch meal that meets USDA meal guidelines.

Hempstead High School Earns AP® ‘Computer Science A’ Female Diversity Award

2020 AP CSA Female Diversity Award from CollegeBoard and APDubuque, Iowa – Hempstead High School has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses.

Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 1,119 achieved either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science examinees meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population during the 2019-20 school year. That’s nearly 37% more than the 818 schools recognized last year. In 2020, Hempstead was one of 232 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science A. Hempstead is the only Iowa school recognized in the Computer Science A category.

“As a school, and as a district, we are dedicated to breaking down barriers for all students – real or perceived – to help them discover the opportunities in front of them,” said Lee Kolker, principal of Hempstead High School. “We are proud to receive this recognition while knowing that our continued work in this area is important.”

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