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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Oct. 17, 2017

Horace Mann student’s letter prompts authors to visit school

Northwest Missouri State University’s Horace Mann Laboratory School will host a special presentation by authors Marcus and Mardra Sikora on Monday, Oct. 30, from 1 to 3 p.m. after a Horace Mann student mentioned Marcus Sikora’s book in a letter-writing contest she won.

Hadley Cline, a fifth grader at Horace Mann, recently won the Letters About Literature state level competition for her letter to Beth Vrabel, author of “Pack of Dorks.” In her letter, Hadley mentioned Marcus Sikora and his book, “Black Day: The Monster Rock Band.” The Sikoras were so excited about Hadley’s letter that they offered to make a special appearance and present to students, faculty and families at Horace Mann.

The Northwest campus community is invited to attend the presentation in the Horace Mann gym. Special times for Horace Mann students are 1-1:45 p.m. for kindergarten, first and second graders; and 2-3 p.m. for third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

Marcus Sikora has Down syndrome and is the 2017 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Ambassador with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. His first animated short and book for children is titled “Black Day: The Monster Rock Band.” Individuals may connect with Marcus and his adventures via Twitter @marcusmusical,, and

Mardra Sikora, Marcus’ mom, is an author, speaker and advocate. She has written “Essay: arguing Eugenics”, “The Future and Other Twists”. She co-authored “The Parent’s Guide to Down Syndrome: Advice, Information, Inspiration, and Support for Raising your Child from Diagnosis through Adulthood.”

“Marcus and I are so thrilled that the young Miss Cline embraced learning more about people with disabilities and their abilities,” Mardra Sikora said. “We make trips to schools around the country, spoken to groups of all sizes, even the United Nations earlier this year.”


About Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades four through 12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to the author about how the book affected them. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country annually enter Letters About Literature, which is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.


About Horace Mann Laboratory School

Located centrally on campus in the Everett Brown Education Hall, Horace Mann places an emphasis on innovative and interactive teaching practices accompanied with individualized instruction by dedicated and caring faculty as well as staff and administrators. While the laboratory school benefits from Northwest programs and activities, the school’s teachers also incorporate state-of-the-art technology into students’ learning.

As a laboratory school, Horace Mann is a clinical teaching environment for students in Northwest’s School of Professional Education. The relationship between master teachers, practicum teachers and graduate assistants allows Horace Mann students to reap the benefits of low student-to-teacher ratio in classrooms that implement innovative teaching practices and provide learning experiences designed to stimulate each child's creative learning abilities and problem-solving skills.

For more information about Horace Mann, visit Interested parents may also contact Principal Sandy Seipel by phone at 660.562.1234 or by email at

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468