Posted By: Robyn (Henry) Stokstad and Arden Stokstad
Our school days started on the college campus of Iowa State Teachers College in 1948/49 first attending the nursery school on the college campus located where the Maucker Union is today, and for the next 13 years for each of us we were lucky enough to remain a part of the MPLS family. We respectively attended our 50th year reunions. In 2012 for Arden’s and we could still walk through the halls of the entire school and then Robyn’s in 2013 where only the field house where the luncheon‘s are held during Sturgis Falls remained. We were able to bring home some bricks from the rubble that once was our school.
We were in 3rd and 4th grades (1953) when we began attending the beautiful new school.
Arden’s father Lloyd was the high school basketball Coach and also became the tennis Coach, so Arden’s school experience included attending practices and going to both high school and college football and basketball games in his early school years. Arden’s tennis career started on a handball court at the ISTC gym and included a state championship for a school that he loved. In 2013 he was handed his trophies from that era that had been on display.
All 4 of Arden’s siblings and 5 of Robyn’s attended this very special school, and for Robyn’s family it was over 34 years.
Our memories of this school experience would include excellent teachers, student teachers and outstanding fellow students. We grew up with and shared our school experience with many who are still friends today.
Arden still remembers to this day his excitement when he started Junior High and High School. In seventh grade his class chose doing a chili Supper. For the next six years they annually put on a show and served chili and sold tickets making enough money for their senior year class trip to Washington DC. Robyn’s class was the last to have this annual event for this special senior trip.
Memories of elementary years are of the two tracks of classes, a foreign language, gym every day, special teachers and student teachers and feeling we were in a very special school, not to mention the fantastic lunchroom meals from mom’s of fellow students which was true from the time MPLS opened it‘s doors until we graduated..
In Eighth grade, Ms. Harper’s class, we would have a week long camping trip and would put on skits, plan meals, study outside, just an amazing time with your classmates and teachers. And who doesn’t remember having to learn the Gettysburg Address. If you didn’t you did not graduate 8th grade.
In 1960, Les Hale joined the staff and music took on new meaning for us. Chamber choir, the chorus and we made a recording his first year. Not long after Ken Butzier joined the staff and the two of them would collaborate and we began doing musicals like Annie get your Gun and plays like Our Town, including all the lighting, staging and costumes. Arden remembers fondly playing Tommy Keeler in Annie Get Your Gun, and in the opening scene, the porch railing gave way when he was to kiss Winnie Tate (Marilyn Nielsen) and he tumbled on to the stage and then lifted the railing back in place, gave Winnie a kiss and exited the stage. Mr Hale said he thought the audience just thought it was a part of the show. We continued to go home for many more years as we would go back to watch our siblings, in other productions. When Robyn was a senior, Les Hale had already noticed her sister Cathy who was in 3rd grade at the time and was already planning another production, “Sound of Music”.
The teachers were a great part of what this school was about. Teachers (and most of ours were Professors), teaching student teachers teaching students. And we had the best of the best. The opportunities, of Art, Music, Industrial Arts, Home Economics, , Gym everyday, Science, Foreign Language, History, Mathematics. Teachers like Dr. Vanderbeek, Ms. Struble, Ms. Harper, Dr. Riechmann, Mrs. Mahon, Mr. Wiederanders Mr. Hohlfeld, Mr. Aldrich, Pete Mazula, and Len and Gail Froyen, along with Les Hale and Ken Butzier.
It was a smaller school with so much to offer and gave us all the opportunity to be active in music, drama, athletics and basically an exposure to a wide variety of opportunities and appreciation of a variety of subjects. Singing in a barbershop quartet, playing in a band where the instruments were furnished and having an opportunity to try several. Great athletic teams and although women did not have competitive teams we did participate in intramurals.
Arden remembers that he “didn’t want to be a tissue paper athlete” and “going to the barn” was a good thing. We remember that when we were singing it was important “to sell”. When driving that you should “leave one car length for every 10 miles per hour“- try that today. We could type, make furniture, be creative, play chess, speak some Latin, Spanish and French and sing happy birthday in all those languages. Ms. Struble taught so much more than just the language. Arden remembers to wash his hair twice and not to take a bath but just a shower. To put the ball in the basket and refs were basically incompetent but still had to be respectful to them. That everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Both guys and girls could cook and sew and knew the basic food groups. We learned to dance over our noon hour, and had great pep rallies on game days and then would cheer our teams on that night.
Arden had an opportunity to go to Denmark as a foreign exchange student the summer before his senior year, an amazing experience. We had foreign exchanges students that became a part of our MPLS family as they would attend and stay with a family for a school year.
The confidence and feeling that you could do anything you wanted was our biggest take away from this phenomenal school experience along with a feeling that you were definitely apart of a very special family that would always be a part of your life..
We didn’t realize this at the time, but our community and school were also influenced by WWII and Korea. Many of our teachers, parents and former students fought in those wars. For example Howard Vanderbeek’s heroism on D-Day at Utah beach. Charles D’Olive was an ace in WWI; David Delafield flew bombers in WWII, and many others.
We are now grand parents and our grandson will graduate from college this year. Yes we have retired and have had our 50th class reunions, but as we reflect on our MPLS memories we realize just how much those year’s influenced who we are today and how fortunate we were to attend such a special school.
Closing this school is definitely an unimaginable mistake but it can never diminish the memories we all have and the family we all remain.