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Archive for August, 2013

Walnut Creek Campus Boat Regatta Makes a Splash

Some may think ending up neck deep in water wearing a Scooby Doo costume would make for a bad day. Not Walnut Creek Campus Senior Crystal Howard of Urbandale.

Standing in her drenched costume on the shore of the West Des Moines City Campus pond, she proclaimed the first annual Walnut Creek Campus Boat Regatta was a lot of fun.

Howard was one of 120 Walnut Creek Campus students who participated the boat regatta Friday, Aug. 23. The event was the culmination of two days of learning about science and teamwork through project-based curriculum.

The Walnut Creek Campus advisory program is moving toward a project-based learning, which involves students working to solve real world problems.

“The Walnut Creek regatta is an idea that arose from this change in curriculum as a fun way to kick off our year that requires our advisories to work collaboratively for a common purpose,” Walnut Creek Campus Social Studies Teacher Ted Vandeventer explained.

The task was to successfully build and launch a cardboard boat around the fountain at the pond next to the Learning Resource Center.  Advisory teams worked together with just one refrigerator box and duct tape to build their vessel. 

To prepare for the task, students learned about boating, canoeing and the principles surrounding water displacement and buoyancy.  They started by building models of their crafts that they tested by weighting them with pennies.

The next step was to construct the real boat based on a blueprint advisory team members developed. Groups had to solve equations for the amount of water displaced and the depth with which the boat would sink.

They also had to come up with a theme. Crystal’s team was “The Mystery Machine” from the Scooby Doo cartoon series.

Students also had a session with West Des Moines Police Officer Terry Brauch, who provided Real Colors Personality training, which gave students a better understanding of their temperament and that of their teammates. It also gave them a common language to use in working collaboratively.

There were three trophies handed out at the regatta:

  • Fastest Boat went to Team Italia,  which included Sarah Beck (West Des Moines), Monica Haes (West Des Moines), Ian Kinney (West Des Moines), Kirk Phillips (West Des Moines),  Jesus Rodriguez (Des Moines), Hannah Short (West Des Moines), Michael Toomer (West Des Moines), Brent Watkins (Des Moines), Adrienne Wright (West Des Moines) and Jack Yungclas (West Des Moines).
  • Best Team Spirit went to Team Mustache, which included Mitch Fransen (Clive), Justin Christianson (Clive), Mary Holmes (West Des Moines), Emily Clausen (West Des Moines), Falken Wright (West Des Moines), Sam Renda (West Des Moines), Anthony Ross (West Des Moines), John Reszel (West Des Moines), Peter Palomeque (West Des Moines), Halil Becic (West Des Moines), Morgan Hubbard (West Des Moines) and Jair Mendez (Clive).
  • Most Creative Boat went to Team Zebra Cakes, which included  Jayden Bender (West Des Moines), Chelsea Button (Windsor Heights), Diego Carreras (West Des Moines), Abby Dunn (West Des Moines), Jenna Marks (West Des Moines), Adan Robles (West Des Moines) and Fransico Sanchez (West Des Moines).

Boat Math Video

Topics: Student Achievements, Uncategorized

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Board Highlights from Aug. 12


The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education has approved its priorities for education legislation for the Iowa legislature’s 2014 session. The priorities are:

  1. Provide a minimum of 4% Supplemental State Aid for the 2014-2015 school year to encourage continuous improvement and to better reflect actual cost increases experienced by school districts;
  2. Maintain at least the current funding level to sustain quality voluntary preschool programming;
  3. Hold the district harmless with respect to lost commercial property tax revenues due to last year’s passage of Property Tax Reform;
  4. Provide adequate funding to deliver the required special education programming for students.

The district will provide these priorities to the Iowa Association of School Boards, which advocates for school boards across Iowa.


The School Board has approved continuing to participate in the Instruction Support Program. The program is a levy designed to provide school districts funds for instructional programing.

At its July 8, 2013 meeting, the Board began the process to renew and continue the levy for a five year period beginning on July 1, 2016. A public hearing was held on August 12, 2014, at which no objections to the levy were presented or filed.

The Instructional Support Program will generate $4,660,325 of revenue in the general fund for the 2013-14 school year.

Meeting agendas and full minutes are available on the district website

Follow informal board highlights on Twitter @WDMCS.

Topics: School Board News, Uncategorized