Carroll Daily Times Herald
by Rebecca McKinsey, Staff Writer
A woman named Anna has died mysteriously.
Her ex-husband now lives with his evil new wife, and Anna’s best friend has been trying to steal her business.
What’s more, Anna had diabetes, sickle cell anemia and heart problems. And now she’s dead.
In Manning, a team of high-school students are on the job: serving as crime-scene investigators — dusting for fingerprints and gathering evidence — and medical professionals, testing blood pressure and conducting EKGs.
In between those tasks, they dissect a few fresh pig hearts donated by the Irwin locker — much easier to dissect than preserved hearts.
Then they leave their Principles of Biomedical Science class and head down the hall to English.
This is STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — in motion at IKM-Manning schools.
High-school students learn a variety of concepts and skills through their year-long investigation of the death of “Anna.”
“It’s kind of a hard thing, when they’re used to seeing crimes solved in an hour on ‘CSI,’” joked Tina Newman, a science teacher at IKM-Manning High School who teaches the class.
But at the end of the year, the mystery is solved — thanks to events like the IKM-Manning Gala, which has offered an evening of food, drink and entertainment for three years running to raise money for STEM programs at the schools.
“How lucky I am and we are to have so much support,” Newman said.
Continuing its tradition of besting itself, the third annual IKM-Manning Gala, held Saturday at the Irwin Community Building, raised more than $90,000 this year for the school district’s STEM programs — topping the first two Galas’ take of about $50,000 and $60,000.
The event — it rotates each year through IKM-Manning’s communities and was held in Irwin this year — included a dinner, an open bar and live entertainment, as well as live and silent auctions. Almost 300 people attended.
One of the highest-bidding live-auction items was a group trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which sold for $2,400. The live auction overall raised $25,550. Dozens of silent auction items sold for $6,000 total. Event and raffle tickets netted about $5,000, while sponsors for the event contributed $58,000 — for an event total approaching $95,000.
Money raised for STEM initiatives at IKM-Manning supports a variety of classes and programs — ranging from the biomedical class to a “Seesaw” app that allows first-graders to electronically share their work with their families, through photos, videos and voice recordings. STEM manifests itself in many other ways in IKM-Manning classes, teaching not only science, technology, engineering and math but problem-solving and critical thinking in ways that are applicable to each age level, educators said at the Gala.
“Every dollar spent here tonight goes back to our kids,” IKM-Manning School Board member Amy Ferneding said. “Rural Iowa is struggling in schools, so this makes a huge impact on IKM-Manning.”
Kirk Huehn, one of the Gala committee members, noted that, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM-related occupations are growing more quickly than others and people who have STEM-related degrees, no matter what field they choose, tend to make more money than some of their peers.
IKM-Manning High School principal Brian Wall thanked the attendees, whom Huehn called “investors” into IKM-Manning students’ futures.
“Your presence and contributions are helping IKM-Manning provide world-class education for our students while still letting them benefit from small-town rural Iowa’s atmosphere,” Wall said.
For the second year in a row, the night’s entertainment included a “dueling pianos” set by Tony Bohnenkamp and Jerry Lorenson of Des Moines-based Pianopalooza — a fun, raucous set of today’s and yesterday’s popular music that was fueled by tequila and sometimes accompanied by kazoo.
But the most triumphant moment came once again with the live-auctioning of a small table runner printed with a wolf, IKM-Manning’s mascot.
During the first two Galas, the table runner was bought and then returned 10 and then 12 times for bids of $100 each.
“That little table runner has raised about $2,500 in two years of sales,” Wall said. “That’s a pretty powerful little table runner. I hope it’s here tonight.”
Indeed, the small strip of cloth had its best night yet when, for the first time, auctioneer Jared Muhlbauer began allowing the individual bids for the cloth that no one would keep to exceed $100. Several bidders committed $200 or more. Eventually, Muhlbauer took off his auctioneer’s cap and simply allowed audience members to raise their hand if they wanted to add $100 to the pot.
Overall, about 25 people committed to pay for the honor of a symbolic piece of the table runner.
Saturday night, the Wolf-printed piece of cloth raised $3,625 — more than $1,000 more than it did in the past two years combined.
Then the wolf-printed cloth was folded and returned to storage until next year’s Gala, when Manning-area residents likely will top themselves once again.
Link to story and pictures