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Board Recognition for April 8

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



Kerrigan Owens represented the state of Iowa at the national contest for Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Contest. Her speech “Is the constitution still relevant?” won at the local, district and state levels and she traveled to compete in Washington, D.C., in March.

Valley High School seniors Eric Chen, Caroline Erickson and Tricia Shi were selected as a candidate for the United States Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors.

All six of the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from Valley High School were upgraded to National Merit Scholarship Finalists this week. Seniors Erica Becker, Eric Chen, Emma Lind, Michelle Rose, Tricia Shi and Alexander Zhou will be notified in June if they have been selected as a national Merit Scholar.

Westridge fifth grader Pramit Vyas, Jordan Creek fifth grader Animesh Joshi, Indian Hills eighth grader Kacey Baker and Stilwell eighth grader Ben Koele have been named semifinalists in the 2013 Iowa National Geographic Bee.

Valley junior Brianne Tuttle ­won first place in Costume Contest and junior Molly Brown took fourth place in Reading Comprehension at the Illinois Junior Classical League convention. The IJCL encourages an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome to impart an understanding of the debt owed by our own culture to that of classical antiquity.

The Indian Hills Math Counts team had eight students finish in the top 25 percent at the chapter competition. Three students ranked in the top 10 of all individuals – Brain Gu in eighth place, Linh Tran in seventh place and Cayden Codel in fifth place. The team, made up of Cayden Codel, Linh Tran, Brian Gu and Shubham Tayal placed third out of about 35 schools, which qualified them for the state competition. The team alternate, Madison VanSickel, joined Brian, Linh and Shubham for the state competition over spring break. Notable individual performances went to Linh Tran, scoring 12th in the state and Shubham Tayal, scoring eighth in the state. The Indian Hills team finished in third place overall.

Stilwell eighth grader Gabriel Mintzer competed in the Math Counts state competition, placing second and earning a trip to the National Math Counts competition in May. He qualified to compete at the state competition after placing first at the chapter competition.

Congratulations to the Valley Mock Trial Team for an outstanding performance at state competition. Only four teams from across the state made it to semifinal competition, including two teams from Valley. Team i b red up won a 3-0 victory in the semifinals and advanced to the championship, placing second in the state. Students on the second-place team were Dylan DeClerck, Caitlin Edwards , Lucy Korsakov, Ben Kruse, Joel Kruse, Emma Lind, Megan Nubel, Rishi Shah, Grady Stein  and Ben Weinberg. Students on team TNHB were Katie Apland, Brooke Beatty, Lexi Brennan, Kyra Cooper, Rae Gernent, Catherine Leafstedt, Thomas Leafstedt and Abby Pepin.


Yan Chan, Ben Wade and Irene Cheung received Youth of the Year 2012 Award from Chinese Association of Iowa. Youth of the Year recognizes the young people who serve and make a difference in our community.  They are honored for their selfless acts and character development, which include the youths who are attending or have attended a high school or secondary school or equivalent in any other educational establishments.

Senior Katelyn Cinnamon was named one of Iowa’s top youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.


For the first time since 2008, the Valley debate team won the IHSSA State Debate Tournament. The tournament featured competition in policy, Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum and Congressional debate. Valley students excelled in all four events and won the overall team sweepstakes by 15 points.

At the John Edie Holiday Debate Tournament, senior Lucy Korsakov placed second overall in Lincoln-Douglas. Junior Jason Smith finished third and senior Megan Nubel was in quarterfinals. Lucy, Jason and Megan all received bids to the National Debate Tournament of Champions

In varsity Lincoln-Douglas at the Dowling Catholic Paradigm, Valley advanced four students to elimination rounds. Senior Lucy Korsakov finished in third place and senior Megan Nubel was in quarterfinals. In novice Lincoln-Douglas, Valley advanced three students to elimination rounds. Sophomore Isabelle Pierotti and freshman Alec Frazier placed third and fourth, respectively, while freshman Jackie Chu was in quarterfinals. In JV policy debate, both Valley teams advanced to elimination debates. The team of sophomores Brody Diehn and Sam Basler placed second, while the team of sophomores Lauren Phalen and Sam Hites were in quarterfinals. And in novice policy debate, Valley advanced two teams to the elimination debates. The team of freshman Danielle Reyes and sophomore Nolan Dahm were in quarterfinals.

The junior high team participated in the Lincoln High Silver Bowl in South Dakota. They closed out the semifinals of the novice Lincoln-Douglas debate division, with eighth grader Trent Gilbert placing first, eighth grader TJ Foley placing second, eighth grader Evan McKinney placing third and seventh grader Kyle Kopf placing fourth.

For the sixth consecutive year, Valley was the overall team champion, and for the third year in a row we won both the novice and the varsity divisions of Lincoln-Douglas debate at the Warrior Invitational at Westside High School in Omaha, Neb. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas, senior Megan Nubel was the champion and top speaker, while senior Nanticha Lutt was a semifinalist. Both Megan and Nanticha received bids to the National Debate Tournament of Champions; this was Nanticha’s second bid, so she is now fully qualified to attend this most prestigious national competition. Valley now has four debaters qualified for the TOC: Megan, Nanticha, senior Lucy Korsakov and junior Jason Smith. In novice Lincoln-Douglas, freshman Jackie Chu was the tournament champion and top speaker, while sophomore Isabelle Pierotti was a quarterfinalist. In novice policy debate, the team of sophomore Nolan Dahm and freshman Sean Hilzendeger and the team of freshmen Danielle Reyes and Sidney May were both semifinalists. In public forum debate, the team of sophomore Erin Nubel and junior Ashton Woiwood advanced to quarterfinals. And in novice Student Congress, freshman John Anthony Danos placed fourth.

At Iowa City Valley had the top two overall speakers with Nolan Dahm winning first speaker and Danielle Reyes second speaker. In addition, Nolan and partner Sidney May placed second. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas, Grady Stein was the second-place overall speaker. In novice Lincoln-Douglas, TJ Foley was the top speaker.

Valley won the IFL State Tournament. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas, Valley closed out the top six spots for the second year in a row. In a six-way close out all of the debaters are champions, but the top two seeds, whose names will go on the traveling trophy, were Jason Smith and Lucy Korsakov. The other four debaters in order of finish were Nanticha Lutt, Gina Scorpiniti, Megan Nubel, and Grady Stein. Nubel was the top LD speaker. Two junior high debaters also advanced to elimination debates. They were TJ Foley of Indian Hills, and Conal Thomas-McGinnis of Western Hills. Both were in octofinals. In public forum, the team of Carolyn Hoemann and Lexy Takla were in semifinals and the team of Mackenzie Copley and Ashton Woiwood were in quarterfinals. Valley won the team championship over second-place DM Roosevelt by 15 points. This is the first year since 2008 that Valley has won both IHSSA and IFL State tournaments.


Walnut Creek Campus’ group mime and short film entries into the IHSSA contest received I ratings and advanced to state. Valley and Valley Southwoods sent 130 students in 13 performances to the IHSSA All-State Festival.

Dani Lipman, Catherine Leafstadt, Elizabeth Reed, Alex Johnson, Lily Koufer, Hannah Todd, Hannah Beuse, Tyler Butel, Brooke Beatty, Lindsey Hohl, Annaliessa Michelotti and Jessica Martens received (I) ratings at the Individual State Speech Competition. Johnson, Beatty, Reed and Beuse were selected to perform at all state.

The VHS Mime Team “Robin ‘Hood’” was selected as the Critic’s Choice at the IHSSA Large Group Festival. The critic, Jeff Hanson (Lampost Theatre, Cedar Falls), chose the group that, in his opinion, best exemplified the category of Group Mime. This is the very highest honor for IHSSA performers. Group members are seniors Sam Farrell, Emma Schulte, Joel Snyder and juniors Sammie Binns, Jake Leiberton, and Mason McCoy. The group is directed by Derek Claussen.


VOX, the all-girl jazz choir, and Vocalese, the mixed varsity jazz choir, performed at the Best of Iowa competition. Both groups had been selected to compete after submitting audition tapes earlier in the year. Vocalese won the division and so is considered “Best of Iowa” this year. VOX placed fourth in the 4A division. VOX is directed by Ryan Deignan and Vocalese is directed by Haley Gibbons.


Senior Jake Campos was selected to play in the US Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome  Jan. 5 as well as the International Bowl. He was also named to the U-19 National Football Team.

The Valley wrestling team finished ninth in team scoring at the state wrestling meet, with state championships earned by Clayton Eicher (113) and Jake Koethe (120). The team finished second at the CIML meet this season. Clayton Eicher and Jake Koethe were conference champions, while Dennis Curry and Dylan Matter placed third, Jack Koethe placed fouth and Brady Smith and Austin Stotts placed fifth.

The boys swimming team won the district championship this season, qualifying 18 entries to the state meet. Jaden VanDike was named an All-American in the 100 breaststroke and was also first-team all-state in that event. David Merriman was first-team all-state in the 500 freestyle, Alex Bodin was second-team all-state in the 200 freestyle and Sam Gorham was second-team all-state in the 100 butterfly.

Junior Adam Morse finished sixth at the state bowling meet with a 484 series. He was the top individual qualifier after setting a state record of 568 this season. He was the individual champion at the CIML meet and districts, being named District Bowler of the Year. Senior Chris Jurkiewicz finished eighth at districts and sixth at the conference meet, helping the team to a second-place finish at both meets.

Junior Emily Thompson finished second at girls bowling districts with a season high 380 series.

Senior Peter Jok was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball and was a unanimous pick to first-team all-conference. He also earned first-team all-Western Division and first-team all-state by the Des Moines Register. Clint Bofeli was also named to the first-team all-Western Division, DJ Dafney was a second-team pick and Tanner Hinkle and Peter Nixon were honorable mention. Boffeli was also a second-team all-conference pick.

In girls basketball, Grace Vander Weide was named to the second-team all-state, first-team all-conference and first-team all-Western Division. Madison Agey and Brooke O’Hollearn were each named second-team all-conference and first-team all-Western Division. Whitney Fuller was named to the second-team all-Western Division and Kasey Feldt was an honorable mention selection.

The Tiger Archery Team qualified for the national tournament in Kentucky by finishing fourth overall in the state tournament.  They missed the third place overall trophy and individual medals by only 36 points. Most archers shot a season high score. Ryan Johnston finished in fourth place state-wide for middle school boys. Mitchell O’Meara shot a 282 out of 300 possible and was fourth in the state for middle school boys. Valley Southwoods freshman Alina Husain shot a 286 and placed second for high school females in the state. Jordan Creek placed third in state-wide for elementary students.



Jeanne Caldwell was presented the Community Contribution Award at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Chinese Association of Iowa. The award was presented by Chinese consulate general Zhao Weiping from Chicago.

Valley football coach Gary Swenson was named the 2012 Iowa Football Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association.

Valley debate coach Dave McGinnis was named a third diamond coach in the National Forensic League. Under his instruction, students have earned more than 30,000 credit points through speech and debate presentations, competition and service.

Lauri Pyatt, the district’s school/community relations specialist, has been invited to present at the National School Public Relations Association’s Annual Seminar. Her session will be focused on the district’s Facebook communications plan and how it was implemented at each of the district’s 14 buildings. She won a Golden Achievement Award from NSPRA on the plan last year.

Donna Gregory, the director of business services, was honored with the 2013 Iowa Association of School Business Officials Professional Leadership Award. This is the highest honor the state association bestows upon its members. The award is in recognition of those school business officials who have demonstrated excellence in service to their school district, communities and the profession.

Valley Activities Director Brad Rose was featured in a national blog for developing a walk through system for him to evaluate his coaches similar to what our principals use to evaluate teachers.

Topics: Athletics, Education, School Board News, Student Achievements