Outstanding Accomplishments in the WDMCS – May 2012

The Board of Education of the West Des Moines Community School District is pleased to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of district students and staff.



With 16 sets of twins, Valley Southwoods set a Guinness Record in the category of Most Sets of Twins in the Same Academic Year at One School. The twins are Hanna and Julia Anderson, Quintin and Mason Barr, Megan and Hannah Baysinger, Hannah and Noah Clark, Jade and Logan Davis, Roman and Giavanna Dean, Hunter and Carson Feldman, Anna and Samuel Freihage, Jacob and Jeffrey Goetz, Emma and Sara Goff, Cole and Logan Harvey, Emily and Allison Kacer, Joseph and Joshua McVey, Cole and Cory Mullins, Kaylee and Kyle Olson and Kayla and Lauren Phalen. 


Stilwell seventh grader John Mahoney won the 2012 Iowa National Geographic Bee and will represent the state at the National Geographic Bee at Washington, D.C., May 22-24. Indian Hills seventh grader Abbie Kigin was also a semifinalist and competed at the state competition.

Valley senior Luchang Wang and Walnut Creek senior Melissa Richards were named to the Des Moines Register Academic All-State.

Several world language students from Valley received national recognition for excellent performance on the 2012 National Spanish Examinations. Harrison Freund received a gold medal with 96 percent,  Eastyn Fitzgibbon received a bronze medal and Catherine Leafstedt was an honorable mention.
Advisor: Sue Boyle

The Valley High School newspaper, The Spotlight, has been recognized as a spring 2012 Scholastic Newspaper Award winner from the American Scholastic Press Association.
Advisor: Diane Hicks

Valley students represented the Chinese language program in the US Midwest Region of the 2012 Chinese Bridge Competition at Webster University in St. Louis. Will Crichton and the VHS Lion and Dragon Team both finished second and Ashton Mellinger placed third. Other student participants were Farah Hashim  (VHS), Cassandra Merrell (VHS), Suryatej Akavaram (VSW), Hakeem Banks  (VSW), Ashley Segura (VSW) and Isabelle Pierotti-May (VSW).
Advisor: Na Pan (Panna)

The Valley National Science Bowl Team competed in Washington, D.C., finishing in the top half of all competitors. The posted a winning record, but did not advance to the finals. Congratulations to Scott Johnson, Will Crichton, Sarah Liu, Elaine Mou and Philip Dobrinov. About half of the schools competing were either private preparatory schools or science and technology magnet schools like the Illinois Institute of Science and Technology.
Advisor: Nathan Speichinger

After winning the Inspire Award, the highest honor given at the FTC Iowa Championship, robotics team Beta participated in the World Championships in St. Louis. Only the top nine percent of FTC teams in the world compete in the championships. Hardware, software and field inspections were smooth and the inspector complimented the team on their engineering notebook.  The robot made it through seven matches plus two more that were replayed due to connection problems on the field. Team members are Jordan Burklund, Saketh Undurty, Sidd Somayajula, Daniel Miller, Tanvi Yenna, Annie Howard and Chase Schweitzer.

The AP Index for 2012, based on last year’s test, has been published by the Belin-Blank Institute and shows that Valley’s ratio increased from 1.13 to 1.19, ranking ninth in the state.


Seven Valley Southwoods students participated in the annual CIML Art Show and competition: Cheyenne Castleberry, Jade Davis, Elsa Klein, Ken Maina, Gabe Medina, Isabelle Pierotti-May and Maddie Stillman. Five students from Southwoods were recognized with awards.  Elsa Klein received a blue merit award for her stoneware clay vase.  Maddie Stillman received a blue merit award for her photograph.  Three students received Honorable Mention awards:  Jade Davis for her drawing, Gabe Medina for his stoneware clay vessel, and Isabelle Pierotti-May for her photograph.

Valley High School students receiving awards at the CIML Art Show were Maddy Baker, blue merit award in charcoal drawing; Maria Schwarz, blue merit award in digital photography-unaltered; Sophie Gunnick, blue merit award in design; Jessica Mason, honorable mention in oil or acrylic painting; Harrison Freund, honorable mention in graphic design; William Ash, honorable mention in computer generated art; Morgan Burmester, honorable mention in computer generated video/animation; Anna Digman, honorable mention in ceramic sculpture; and Elijah Soria, honorable mention in analog photography-altered.


Valley closed out the final round of JV Lincoln-Douglas debate, taking first, second and third place at the Great Midwestern Novice and JV Debate Nationals at Iowa City West High School. The co-champions were sophomore Jason Smith and freshman Grady Stein. Junior Lucy Korsakov placed third. Sophomores Shaan Madhan and Colin Timmerman were in quarterfinals. In the novice division of Lincoln-Douglas debate, freshman Gina Scorpiniti placed second. Freshman Alissa Smith was in semifinals, and freshman Satya Yaramati was in quarterfinals. In novice policy debate, the team of freshmen Brody Diehn and Lauren Phalen placed in the top 16. This is the third time in recent months that Valley has closed out a major competition. The Tigers swept first through fourth place at the NFL National Qualifier in February, and swept first through sixth place at the IFL State Debate Tournament in March.
Coaches: Dave McGinnis, Gracie Brandsgard, Steve Renzi, Alex Kramer, Sophie Ruff, Josh Miller, David Basler


Lara Plecas  and Takashi Yanagi  were selected to perform at the IHSSA Individual Events All State Festival. Lara performed an Expository Address on Invisible Children and Takashi performed poetry selections on finding success.
Directors: Carol Engelmann and Sonja Hansen-Smith

The Valley drama team has been honored with the IHSSA All-State Festival’s E. Wayne Cooley Sweepstakes Award for the seventh consecutive year. The award is given annually to the school with the most entries in the competition. Seven Walnut Creek Campus students, 64 students from Valley Southwoods and 131 students from Valley participated in the state competition. Students performed in the areas of choral reading, solo mime, one act play, group improvisation, ensemble acting, group mime, musical theatre and television news casting.
Director: Stacy Hansen


The Crestview Elementary Tiger Choir was invited to sing as a guest choir at the Celebrate Singing Festival hosted by the Ames Children’s Choirs.  Festival choirs include choirs from two area schools, and several professional children’s choirs from Ames and surrounding states.  Choirs performed selections alone and as a mass choir.  The concert concluded with the world premeire of a piece from a new opera by composer, Michael Ching.
Director: Ruth Dorr

Vocalese placed second and Vox placed fourth in the Iowa Vocal Jazz Championships for class 4A.  Outstanding musicianship awards went to Annie Howard, Emma Stier, Emily Swallow, Kara Masteller, Stephanie Hansen, Becca Finkelshteyn, Rebecca Ihnen, Jocelyn Coffman, Scott Newell and Connor Wang.   Outstanding Female Performer for Class 4A was Stephanie Hansen, who also made the All-State Jazz Choir – one of just four altos statewide to be placed into that prestigious group.
Director: Linda Vanderpool

Valley students receiving I ratings at the State Solo/Small Ensemble Contest were Trevor Bridge, Sarah Christian, Kyra Cooper, Stephen Davick, Ian Dunbar, Broc Everett, Becca Finkelshteyn, Sean Galligan, Nathan Gilbert, Annie Howard, Abby Hudson, Mary Hudson, Rebecca Ihnen, Megan Jensen, Casey Johnson, Tommy Lau, Zach Lepperd, Claudia Malchow, Jared Newman, Noah Reddig, Shelby Reddig, Colleen Seuren, Erin Sheffield, Alyssa Soto, Emma Stier, Tommy Stern, Emily Swallow, Madison Wepfer and Kara Masteller.
Director: Linda Vanderpool

The Valley Jazz Orchestra finished in second place at the 2012 Iowa Jazz Championships at the Civic Center. There were a total of 15 4A bands from across the state competing throughout the day.
Director: Phil Peter

Samantha Greer won second place for a composition she wrote and recorded for the Polk County Bar Association for their theme No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom. Her song was played multiple times at the awards luncheon.

Director: Phil Peters

The Stilwell Jazz Bands performed at the Hoover Jazzfest where the seventh grade band placed second in the seventh grade band class and the eighth grade band placed fourth in the large middle school class. Eighth graders earning outstanding soloist awards were Chris Roberts on tenor sax, Joe Brennan on trombone, Sean Hilzendeger on bari sax, Sarah Clarke and James Hada on alto sax. Seventh graders were Becca White and Grace Trane on trumpet, Sam Kobberdahl on alto sax and Justin Jones on tenor sax.
Directors: Jon Lewis, Bobbi Garringer


The Valley hockey team finished second in the High School Hockey League. Clark Grandquist, a junior at Valley, was named Best Defensive Player of the Year.

The Valley girls track team finished second at the CIML conference track meet with nine champions and seven runners-up. Champions were 4×800: Emily Seibel, Katelyn Criner, Megan Crawford, Melissa Shepherd with a new meet record; 100: Ashlee Downs; Distance Medley: Sarah Phillips, Alex Armitage, Emily Klemme, Kaitlyn Nelson with a new meet record; 400: Ashlee Downs; 4×200: Teanna Lewis, Alex Kock, Carlyn LaGrone, Katie Iles with a new meet record; 200: Ashlee Downs; 400 Hurdles: Courtney Young; Sprint Medley: Teanna Lewis, Katie Iles, Carlyn LaGrone, Melissa Shepherd; Long Jump: Ashlee Downs. Runners-up were Shuttle Hurdle Relay: Chloe Matthews, Emma Young, Sydney Cline, Courtney Young; 400: Lydia Saggau; 100 Hurdles: Chloe Matthews; 800: Lydia Saggau; 400 Hurdles: Chloe Matthews; 4×100: Chloe Matthews, Katie Iles, Carlyn LaGrone, Teanna Lewis; 4×400: Kaitlyn Nelson, Alex Armitage, Katelyn Criner, Melissa Shepherd.

Top finishers in girls track at the Drake Relays were 4×800: 1st place – Kaitlyn Nelson, Melissa Shepherd, Torey Brown, Lydia Saggau; 4×400: 3rd place – Ashlee Downs, Kaitlyn Nelson, Melissa Shepherd, Lydia Saggau (missed School Record by .03); 800: 1st place – Lydia Saggau (School Record)
Coaches: Keith Borness, Travis Young, Jeff Dyer, Kelli Moore, Becky Krieg

Top finishers in boys track at the Drake Relays were 800: 5th place – Quentin Smith; 4×400: 4th place – Jake Nitz, Jake Hoogensen, Kojo Badu, Quentin Smith.
Coaches: Brian Rhoads, Bob Hardin, Tom Trygstad, Rocky Graziano, Gabe Bakker


Ruth Dorr, Crestview music teacher, was selected to direct the South Central Iowa Choral Director’s 6th Grade Honor Choir held in Norwalk. She also conducted the 260-member mass choir of fifth and sixth graders in the final selection on the concert.

Valley High School orchestra director Phil Peters has been selected by the Iowa String Teachers as the winner of the 2012 Bruce Eilers Memorial Classroom Teacher of the Year award.

Lauri Pyatt and Elaine Watkins-Miller received three Awards of Excellence in the annual Iowa School Public Relations Association’s Communications Contest. They received the awards for social media, the district brochure and the Valley construction project marketing materials.

Valley graduate and current employee Sam Kranovich was named the West Des Moines Citizen of the Year.

Jordan Creek fifth grade teacher Jeri Daniels was honored as a My Favorite Teacher award winner. Her student, Macy Schuette, wrote an essay sharing how Daniels influenced her life and it won the first through fifth grade category.

Elizabeth Hanna, director of nutrition services, was named the 2012 recipient of the Iowa State University College of Human Sciences Alumni Achievement Award.