Rivermont in the News

Rivermont is often featured in local news - both in the newspaper and on our local ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates. Below are a few of our favorite stories. If you have a story to share, please send it to

Hundreds of children fill the Putnam for Lego competition (QC Times)

First Lego League Robotics Rivermont Collegiate Image

Hundreds of kids screamed, jumped up and down and shouted encouragement to each other Sunday at the Putnam Museum, Davenport.

As loud as any sporting event and every bit as energy-packed, the children, ages 9-14, were part of the First Lego League challenge. To successfully complete the challenge, teams built and programmed a Lego Mindstorms robot.

Through hands-on experience and working in teams on Saturday and Sunday, children used problem-solving skills to address a real-world issue, said Nichole Myles of Moline, chief education and experience officer at the Putnam, which hosted the event. Teams, Myles said, were judged on their robot, their research project and core values that include how well the children worked within their teams.

Through the competition, children gain an appreciation for and interest in science and technology, Myles said. About 2,400 people, including families, students and Lego competition volunteers went through the Putnam's doors over the weekend, she said.

“The Putnam sees itself as a community resource,” she said. STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is an important part of what the Putnam offers in its STEM center that opened earlier this year.

The competition, she added, is “all the things the Putnam represents. And it’s a wonderful showcase for the kids.”

Many teams came from schools in the region, and others were composed of students from churches or other organizations.

Tournament Director Pat Barnes, program director of Global STEM, Corporate Citizenship Center of Excellence for Deere & Co., also serves as a board member for the Quad-City Engineering and Science Council.

Additionally, Barnes is program director for the John Deere Inspire, a global initiative designed to encourage the next generation of innovators through education in STEM, along with connections and hands-on experiences with the real world.

Deere provides grants for the Lego teams, as well as volunteer judges, mentors and referees, he said.

“Forty percent of our salaried employees worldwide work in a STEM-related role,” Barnes said.

A whoop went up from a team just across the room from Barnes and Myles.

“These kids are so excited and their families are so excited,” Myles said. “This is like Friday night football … and it’s math and science!”

Not only do the teams learn problem-solving, math and science, but “gracious professionalism” is part of the core values on which the teams are judged, Barnes said: “The idea is not to win at the cost of somebody else.”

The children, Myles said “are presenting their own ideas and their own solutions in their own way.”

Teacher Sheryl Kennedy, of Camanche, Iowa, accompanied her Action Management Agency team that included fourth-grade boys and girls.

“They’re all rookies in Lego League,” she said. “We are playing with the big guys.”

The students on her team were required to have good test scores, she said. “They are so thrilled to be here,” she said. “They knew they would be competing against other kids from bigger school districts.”

The Camanche team, she said, was “sure we rocked the core values, because they took turns and helped each other.”

“I think it’s pretty cool to be here,” said team member Eva Gifford, 10, of Camanche. “I get to see all of these other people perform.” The team’s presentation included a song.

(Originally published in the Quad City Times on December 14, 2014. By Linda Cook)

Rivermont sudents put STEM skills to test (QC Times - Bettendorf News)

3D STEM Printing Rivermont Collegiate Image 1

Rivermont Collegiate sixth-grader Ben Bergfeld envisions his ideal workplace having a rooftop swimming pool where he could relax or take a swim over his lunch break.

Last week, Ben took his daydream to the next step when he designed the multicolored skyscraper using 3D software and printing during Jenna McAdam’s science class.

“It’s just something cool I thought of,” Ben said.

McAdam received the school’s 3D printer earlier this month, and her 22 sixth-grade students each created their own building model with the architectural features to withstand earthquakes.

McAdam handed out laptops, introduced the design software Google SketchUp and discussed the basics of designing solid structural foundations before letting her students get to work.

“They have very big imaginations at this age, and I just let them go,” she said.

Cory Satterfield, a structural engineer at Shive-Hattery, visited McAdam’s class last week and presented various technical features of earthquake-proof buildings.

Drawing a few blank stares as he handed out documents from an American Society of Civil Engineering textbook, Satterfield explained how he basically designs buildings to withstand any seismic or wind pressures.

“I’m trying not to make it too difficult, but unfortunately it’s difficult in nature,” Satterfield said. “Anytime they’re exposed to science, technology and engineering (often called STEM), it allows them to think about things differently, and hopefully this will lead them in that direction because there is always a need of people in these fields.”

This week, McAdam planned to put her students’ creations to the test by placing the building models in a dirt-filled plastic tub before simulating an earthquake.

“If they stay up, they have a pretty good design,” McAdam said.

Complete with windows, support beams, stairs, various entrances and chimney stacks, Angela Jones' miniature office building model she imagines standing in New York City took an hour to produce in her classroom’s printer.

“I always imagine something from a computer as being flat, but with a 3D printer you can make whatever you want look exactly how you want it to,” Angela said.

Michael Cumberbatch said he had only seen a 3D printer in the newspaper before experimenting with it in science class.

“If there’s an earthquake, mine won’t fall over,” Michael said. “And I’m thinking of maybe being an engineer when I grow up. It sounds pretty cool.”

As her students researched various architectural styles and watched their imaginations come to life, McAdam said this technology has allowed her students to gain skills they might use in the workforce.

“There’s a career in building buildings, and this is just the first step on that career path," McAdam said.

(Originally pubished in the Quad City Times on November 26, 2014. By Jack Cullen)

Rivermont Collegiate Celebrates First-Place Finish at Student Hunger Driver Kick-Off Party (QC Times)

Food Drive 1

Davenport North High School freshman Tia McLemore couldn’t help but recall the days when her family struggled to keep food in their home as she and her classmates prepared for their performance at the 29th annual Quad-Cities Student Hunger Drive Monday night.

“Suddenly, there was nothing in the fridge,” McLemore said. “It affects your school and your home life, but there’s nothing to do except to try and stay positive.”

McLemore and her classmates joined hundreds of other Quad-City students from 17 schools in Illinois and Iowa at the new River Bend Foodbank facility in Davenport to promote feeding the hungry, while showing off school pride during a friendly talent show.

Students improvised, sang, danced and even juggled in efforts to win 2,000 pounds of canned goods to kick off the hunger drive that ends Nov. 6.

“It really broadens their concept of who lives in the community and breaks down their assumptions,” Ray Knight, a Bettendorf High School teacher and student council adviser, said. “The social economic structure they run with is a lot narrower than the entire Quad-City community.”

Many schools produced their own rendition of modern top-40 songs while incorporating food and hunger into their performances.

Students from Orion High School chanted “we’re bringing meals back” during their remix of Meghan Trainor’s recent hit, “All About That Bass,” while students from Davenport North portrayed a scene from "Hunger Games."

Sporting multi-colored makeup and a full costume, Katie Savely, senior at Davenport North, emulated Effie Trinket from Hunger Games as she announced the start of this year’s hunger drive.

“We thought standing out would be good for a change,” she said.

Tom Laughlin, executive director of River Bend Foodbank, said his organization "desperately" needs the food donated every year from the Student Hunger Drive, which donated more than 520,000 pounds of goods in 2013.

“Each can of food sends a message to the recipient that they are not alone in their struggle,” Laughlin told the students.

The food bank, which began serving the area’s hungry in 1982, collects more than 8 million pounds of food annually and serves 300 meal programs in 22 surrounding counties, Laughlin said.

While students from different schools gave each other high fives and fist bumps after each performance, parents, volunteers and spectators provided a constant flow of cheering and yelling for the performers.

In the end, judges awarded Rivermont Collegiate with the 2,000 pounds of food for their rendition of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” titled, “Canaconda.”

Sophomore Manasa Pagadala, 14, led the performance while rapping lyrics the entire group created.

“People know that I like to rap at school, so they wanted me to do this,” Pagadala said after her first performance in front of a large crowd.

“At this age, we usually don’t think about people other than ourselves so this is definitely something I’ll look back on and say, ‘That was cool to be a part of,’” she said.

(See original story on the QC Times website).

Rivermont Collegiate performed a creative skit for the Talent Competition portion for the 2014 Student Hunger Drive Kick-Off Party and won first place! Go Lions!

Rivermont Robotics Team Practices For International Competition (QC Times Front Page)

QC Times Robotics

Rivermont Collegiate’s middle school robotics team worked more quietly than usual Friday as members practiced for the First Lego League international robotics competition to be held next month in Brazil. 

It took a few minutes of high-fives and small chat for the five members of Robots on the Floor Laughing to warm up to Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who visited two Davenport businesses Friday morning before stopping by the college prep school in Bettendorf.

“They’re quiet today, but usually they’re a little rambunctious,” said Vaishali Wagher, a co-coach and the mother of team member Nikhil Wagher. “They usually stay true to their name.”

There are more than 14,000 First Lego League teams in the United States, but the Rivermont squad will depart Aug. 31 for the 25-team competition in Brazil as the country's sole representative. The competition will take place Sept. 1-4.

Robots on the Floor Laughing includes Lauren Schroeder, 13, Nikhil Wagher, 14, Ellie Decker, 12, Jessica Elliott, 13, and Gabe Heaney, 12.

Deere & Co. chose to sponsor the team at the international tournament based on the students' performance at the 2014 Iowa state competition in January, said Pat Barnes, the executive director of the Quad-City Science and Engineering Council.

Participants in the First Lego League range from 9 to 14 years old and are judged on core values, building and presenting a robot and various problem-solving tasks.

Robots on the Floor Laughing presented their robot, named “clone,” and their solar-powered, tornado-proof shelter design to Reynolds, who questioned them about their efforts as a team.

Although each team member may prefer a specific role, whether it’s designing the robot, building with Legos or programming the device’s software, the group has learned to collaborate and solve problems together before, during and after school and on weekends over the past year.

“We try and split up the work so everyone gets a taste of everything,” Gabe said.

Whenever the team faces an issue or a problem, members vote to determine their solution.

“Sometimes, we’ll just take a step back and focus on something else before coming back as a team,” Lauren said.

Within 15 minutes of meeting the state’s second-in-command, members of the robotics team fell to the ground in laughter.

“We’re a team, so we do things as a team,” Nikhil said. “And now we’re like best buds.”

Reynolds congratulated the middle school team members on their progress, highlighting their professional networking efforts and teamwork.

“When I see kids that are fired up and applying what they’ve learned to real life, it’s amazing,” she said. “These skill sets are beneficial in everything they do.”

Barnes said interest in robotics and the First Lego League in the Quad-City area over the past five years has grown dramatically.

At the fifth-annual First Lego League regional qualifier robotics competition, held in December at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, 106 local teams participated and eight teams qualified for the Iowa state tournament.

Trinity Lutheran’s World Changers from Davenport won the Champions Award at the state tournament for the second year in a row and participated in June at the First Lego League International Open in Toronto. The Riverdale Rocks Robots team from Riverdale Elementary School in Pleasant Valley earned second place at the state championship and participated during May at the North American Open Championship at LEGOland in California.

By 2017, Iowa will employ 70,000 people in STEM-related jobs, said Reynolds, who co-chairs Gov. Terry Branstad’s STEM Advisory Council in Iowa. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“We need our problem-solvers staying in our state,” said Reynolds, adding that she wishes she could have been exposed to robotics as a child. “For those that don’t have someone telling them they can do something, to get this exposure can change their whole perspective.”

Reynolds gave each member of the team a “good luck” hug before leaving Rivermont Collegiate.

Leigh Ann Schroeder, a co-coach and mother of team member Lauren Schroeder, said she’s excited to see the team perform in their element.

“I’m a coach, but I’m also a mom, and I feel like they’re all mine,” Schroeder said. “They’re going to have the time of their life.”

(See original story on the QC Times website).

Robotics Team on Fran Riley

Rivermont Collegiate's FLL Robotics Team R.O.F.L. shows off their robot to KWQC-TV6 New Anchor, Fran Riley, as they prepare for the International Competition in Brazil next month. Good Luck Team!

Rivermont Collegiate connected to early Bettendorf (QC Times)

QC Times 2014 Mansion Photo

One hundred years ago this summer, Joseph W. Bettendorf dispatched employees from his Mississippi River-front factory to help build a magnificent new mansion for himself on the bluffs overlooking downtown Bettendorf.

Joseph Bettendorf succeeded to the presidency of the Bettendorf Axel Co., upon the death of his older brother, William P. Bettendorf, in 1910. Together, the brothers created a company to manufacture cast-steel truck frames for railroad cars. Their invention revolutionized the way wheel assemblies attach to railroad cars by eliminating bolts in the frame that could work lose, causing derailments and delays. They made a fortune from their invention.

Joseph used his newly acquired wealth to build a house to reflect his ambitions and prominent social status. He hired architect Arthur H. Ebling to conceive a 30-room English Manor style mansion. Ebling also is remembered for designing the Carmelite Monastery located at 14th and Central Avenues in Bettendorf. The monastery, known as The Abbey, today serves as a treatment center for individuals with addictions.

The Bettendorf mansion, 1821 Sunset Drive, has three floors with a full basement and 21,000 square feet of finished interior space. The home featured unique amenities, including a grand ballroom on the third floor, a billiards room, stained-glass conservatory, a bowling alley in the basement and hardwood paneling throughout the structure.

The original Bettendorf estate covered 24 acres of ground. In addition to the house, the Bettendorf property also had 17 acres of gardens, a lily pond, pool, tea house, tennis courts and horse stables.

The Bettendorf mansion was not the only structure on the property. A greenhouse, carriage house, a bathhouse and pool and large guest house also had been constructed. The estate required a staff of 15 maids and gardeners.

By 1959 the last member of the Bettendorf family to live in the home moved. The house was sold to the Marist Society and used as a seminary. The Marist, or Society of Mary, is a Roman Catholic institute founded in France in 1816 to evangelize for the Christian faith.

The former St. Katherine-St. Mark School purchased the Bettendorf Mansion and carriage house from the Marist in 1973 to house their academic program. The school later changed its name to Rivermont Collegiate and continues to serve as a private, non-sectarian college preparatory school.

As can be imagined, time has taken a toll on this historic structure. Ron Ossowski, director of development for the school, reports the building eventually might require about close to $400,000 in repairs. Water leakage from the roof has damaged interior walls and ceilings. The Friends of the Joseph Bettendorf House, a 501 c3 organization, has stepped up to solicit funds to make necessary repairs. For additional information, contact Ron Ossowski at the school.

The Bettendorf Mansion has been designated one of three city structures, including the Carmelite Monastery and the now razed Washington Elementary School, to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Richard Pokora is a founder of the Bettendorf Business Network and pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Bettendorf.

(See original story on the QC Times website). 

Rivermont Collegiate outstanding seniors (QC Times)

QCTIMES 2014 Senior Photos

RIVERMONT COLLEGIATE, Bettendorf, has selected these outstanding seniors from its class of six students.


SHRAVYA POTHULA, daughter of Aswartha Pothula and Jyothi Pothula of Rock Island, plans to major in biology, premed at Baylor University/Baylor College of Medicine, Waco, Texas.


  • Creating a free-water filtration system in rural India
  • Completing oncology research at the University of Chicago
  • Winning 2nd Place in the Medicine and Health Division at the Iowa State Fair for cardiology research

ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: If I were to offer advice to my freshman self, I would say to be calm and enjoy the experience. Often in life we keep moving toward a goal and lose sight of the present, so I would emphasize being happy, enjoying every moment, and stressing out less.

FAVORITE MEMORY: The high school experience that I will remember the most is science fair. I have been doing science presentations since freshman year and from those experiences I gained confidence. I have had success in schoolwork but speaking to others and sharing my findings is a very humbling and unique experience.

The Arts

MINGSUI TANG, daughter of Tao Tang and Lan Wang of Bettendorf, plans to major in engineering at Iowa State University, Ames.


  • Honor Roll
  • Headmaster's List
  • “Cutting Edge Award” Q-C Arts Annual High School Invitational President's Award for Educational Achievement
ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: Just enjoy the time with your parents and friends surrounding you right now. While you find happiness from your life, don't forget to learn things from your heart. Don't complete things just because you have to but rather to desire the knowledge. Last, don't let yourself regret not doing something in high school.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Manito-wish, 2014 Rivermont Leadership Camp.  I will remember everything I went through there. From the little details, like getting up early with friends when most people were still sleeping and learning dance from friends, to bigger points, like learning dance from friends, to the bigger points, like learning how to be a leader. I will remember we wrote a list of our goals on a serene night. Even though some goals will not be reached, the most important part is that I had something to strive for.


SUMMER LAWRENCE, daughter of Sherry Maurer and Mike Lawrence of Rock Island, plans to major in biology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.


  • National Honor Society president
  • Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in recognition of outstanding commitment to social justice, 2013
  • Headmaster’s List 2010-2014

ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: Sleep is important! Seriously, get as much sleep as you can freshman year so that when you’re up until 2 in the morning finishing an essay and combating senioritis, you can remember the good old days of sleep.

FAVORITE MEMORY: National Honor Society held a murder mystery evening event to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). As president of NHS, I felt immensely proud of the organization and all the people who took part in what became a three year project.


AMANDA McVEY, daughter of Brian and Karen McVey of Davenport , plans to major in English/Creative writing at Hollins University, Roanoke, Va.


  • National Honor Society
  • Honor Roll
  • George F. Neiley Writing Award

ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: Grades are important, but they're not the only thing that matters. Be involved in more things’ try out for the play again. Don't be afraid to speak up in class since you know what's going on. Most of all, don't stress out too much. Enjoy it!

FAVORITE MEMORY: I'll always remember planning prom with my class last year. The process was stressful, but it was a fun experience altogether. We worked as a team, and I was able to grow closer to my classmates, five lovely women I'll cherish forever.

Math/The Sciences

VICTORIA MBAKWE, daughter of Uche and Casey Mbakwe of Davenport, plans to major in materials science and engineering at University of Pittsburgh, Pa.


  • University of Rochester Bausch & Lomb Science Award
  • Rivermont Collegiate Dr. Novello Technology Award
  • Optimist International Essay Contest Winner

ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: Time is your friend, not your enemy. Procrastination will harm you if you fail to manage your time well and not do things in order of priority. Great time management will help you meet homework assignment due dates, and most importantly, college application deadlines in the future.

FAVORITE MEMORY: participation in Student Council beginning as freshman class representative through vice president, and president played an integral role in my growth as a leader. Leading daily morning meetings on school days and organizing fundraising events for students and the annual Student Hunger Drive are my most memorable experiences.

Young Journalist

JENNAH DAVISON, daughter of William and Donaa Davison of Eldridge, plans to major in English at Augustana College, Rock Island.


  • Dr. Borlaug Quad-Cities Youth Hunger Summit
  • Art Department Award 2014
  • Honor Roll

ADVICE TO FRESHMAN SELF: I would tell my freshman self not procrastinate; while it’s hard not to, the consequences aren’t worth it. Another is to get involved -- join clubs, extra-curricular activities, etc. Do things that you love. Enjoy high school because it really does go by fast.

FAVORITE MEMORY: I will always remember the memories my class and I had. Our class is very small, which allows us to have a closer bond with each other. We had our good and bad moments, yet the times we had together were priceless.

CLASS 2014

Jennah Davison, Summer Lawrence, Victoria Mbakwe, Amanda McVey, Shravya Pothula and MingSui Tang.

(See original story on the QC Times website). 

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