Class of 1993 reflects on being first graduating class from combined school

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Members of the MFL MarMac class of 1993 who attended the 25th reunion were (front, left to right) Amy Decker, Carrie Nolan, Jesse Pleggenkuhle, Joe Sass, Brad Corlett; (middle) Jana Holcer, Kelly Moose, Heather Hogan, Tina Larson, Emily Hook, Darla Keehner, Angie Schutte; (back) Gina Otts, Joe Moses, Bobbie Hansmeier, Jeremy Schellhorn, James Moses, Heather Eldridge, Sean Sanger and Bill Richard. (Submitted photo)

Members of the MFL MarMac class of 1993 had an opportunity to tour the high school when they gathered last month for their 25th class reunion. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Your senior year of high school brings a range of emotions, from excitement and pride to nervousness and maybe even sadness. For MFL MarMac’s class of 1993, the first to graduate from the combined school, it was even more of an adventure. There were new classmates, new teachers and, for some, a new building and town. 

“In the fall of 1992, the integration was mostly positive,” recalled Jesse Pleggenkuhle, who recently gathered with some of his classmates for their 25th reunion. “I was nervous and anxious about this new school, but the students, teachers and staff were all very welcoming.”

Carrie Asleson Nolan said she was both nervous and excited about the transition. She was also happy to take classes that hadn’t been available before the MFL and Mar-Mac schools merged.

“I had taken German as our foreign language at Mar-Mac, and Spanish was now offered in Monona for us, so I took that my senior year,” she said. “Another class that was not offered at Mar-Mac that I took was horticulture.”

Lynn Jones, who still teaches language arts and physical education at the high school, said she was nervous too. She was previously a junior high staff member, but did not wish to commute to McGregor, so instead opted to teach at the high school in Monona.

“Personally, this consolidation changed my career a lot. To change from the personalities of seventh and eighth graders to juniors and seniors was an eye-opener,” she shared. “Obviously, that also meant all new curriculum on top of learning new students and families. I adjusted along with the rest of the students and staff and communities.”

Sure, the class sizes became larger, but not too large, said Bobbi Welch Hansmeier.

“With the merge, we were still a small class, which made it easy to get to know each other,” she noted. “As a whole, we seemed to get along right from the start.”

It also helped, said Amy Decker, that the schools had already been sharing sports for several years.

“This was very beneficial because it allowed a gradual transition to another school,” Pleggenkuhle remarked. “I was a Mar-Mac student who came to MFL, and was involved in track and cross country. I got to meet the MFL student-athletes and others, and made several friends while training with them through sports.”

Being from Mar-Mac, which didn’t have a football team, Nolan said she tried out for and made the football cheerleading squad.

“It was a great opportunity to meet other people from MFL before the merge,” she said.

Pat Wille was an assistant softball coach at the time and also believed sports smoothed the transition.

“From the perspective of a coach, I saw some good bonding going on during the summer and new friendships were formed, and I am sure this helped to ease some of the nervousness the students had at that time,” she commented. “I was proud to help support the new era of MFL MarMac.”

One of the tasks the students had was merging the traditions from their respective schools. As a junior student council member, Nolan said she was part of a small group of students who helped choose the new school name, mascot and colors. The colors were easy, she quipped, since both schools used blue and gold. 

“We were asked to write down some ideas for the new school name and I specifically remember coming up with the MFL MarMac Bulldogs name,” she said. “I guess I’ve always been proud that we got to give input on that. It was sad to end the era of the ‘Spartans,’ but we couldn’t have two mascots.”

Decker said one tradition Mar-Mac brought to MFL was toilet papering at homecoming.

“It was something we hadn’t done at MFL prior to joining,” she stated. “MFL had other traditions such as the bon fire, which had been taken away the year before our senior year. This is a tradition, regardless if people like it or not, that is still going strong at MFL MarMac.”

Decker also enjoyed the birthday breakfast tradition Mar-Mac students integrated. 

“On your birthday, your senior friends would go to your house and get you out of bed early to go out for breakfast. I’m not sure how long that lasted after we graduated,” she said.

One of the exciting memories Nolan and Decker recalled from their senior year was the boys basketball team going to state. That was when Raef LaFrentz was a junior, Decker added.

At the time of commencement, Decker said her class didn’t necessarily feel there was anything special about being MFL MarMac’s first graduating class. But looking back, it means more to be a big part of the school’s history.

“I’m not even sure the community is aware that it has already been 25 years,” she said.

“People now don’t realize it was a really big deal to join the two high schools,” Decker added. “Neither town wanted to lose their school or their school’s identity. The kids were all pretty excited about the whole thing. The adults weren’t so excited, and some were downright mad. It was a pretty hot topic for years before it actually happened.”

Members of the class of 1993 were the leaders, said Nolan, paving the way for all the other classes. 

“We showed everyone that sometimes change is good,” she remarked.

“I’m sure there were issues I wasn’t aware of at the time,” Decker shared, “but kids are pretty resilient. I think most of us looked at it as a new adventure.”

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