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Archive for May, 2015

Informaline May 18, 2015


en español

New Westridge Elementary Principal We are pleased to announce that Nathan Ballagh has been approved as the new Westridge Elementary principal. Mr. Ballagh will begin his duties on July 1, 2015.

We are excited to have Mr. Ballagh as a member of our administrative team and the educational leader at Westridge Elementary School.

He is currently working at the Southeast Polk School district, where he has served for 11 years as an educator and administrator; most recently as junior high school administrator.

Mr. Ballagh earned bachelor’s degrees in history and education and a master’s degree in preK-12 principalship from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). He is continuing his post-graduate at UNI, working to obtain his superintendent’s license.

WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy presented the recommendation to the WDMCS Board of Education at its May 11 meeting. For more information on school board meetings, please visit

Congratulations, Graduates The West Des Moines Community Schools proudly announces that 711 students will graduate from the district this year. Valley High School will graduate 636 seniors, plus six Certificates of Attendance (foreign exchange students). Walnut Creek Campus will graduate 69 students. Fifty-one students will graduate with a traditional diploma, and 18 will graduate with a core diploma.

Walnut Creek Campus Commencement
Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
Valley Performing Arts Center (3650 Woodland Ave, West Des Moines)

Valley High School Commencement
Sunday, May 24, at 1 p.m.
Drake Knapp Center (2601 Forest Ave., Des Moines)

Hillside Elementary Receives Legacy Award The Leonard Bernstein Center in New York has awarded Hillside Elementary School the Legacy School Award for its implementation of the Center’s Artful Learning approach for nearly 12 years.

Patrick Bolek, lead artful learning trainer, presented the award to Principal Dr. Robert Davis at the May 11 meeting of the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education. The school and its approach to learning was the feature of the School Board’s workshop that night.

Artful Learning is a school improvement model of the Leonard Bernstein Center. American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s vision was to use music and the other fine and performing arts as a means of instilling a lifelong love of learning in students. Artful Learning embeds the arts within the learning process through a carefully researched, concept-based, interdisciplinary model that has proven to increase comprehension in students as well as improve academic achievement

Hillside has used the Artful Learning model longer than any school in Iowa.

Seniors Come Home Students who attended a West Des Moines Community Schools elementary are invited back for Seniors Come Home. This special event gives seniors the opportunity to visit their home elementary school so teachers and fellow students can wish them well on their upcoming graduation. Seniors Come Home has been a tradition in the WDMCS for more than 20 years.

On May 18, graduating seniors are invited back to their home school at the following times:

  • Clive — 3:30 p.m.
  • Crestview — 3:15 p.m.
  • Crossroads — 4 p.m.
  • Fairmeadows — 3:45 p.m.
  • Hillside — 4 p.m.
  • Jordan Creek — 3 p.m.
  • Western Hills — 3 p.m.
  • Westridge — 4 p.m.

All retired elementary teachers and staff are welcome as well.

Valley Named to “Best High Schools” List Valley High School was one of 117 Iowa schools named to a national “Best High Schools” list, released by the U.S. News and World Report on May 12.

Valley was ranked eighth in Iowa and 1,562nd nationally, out of 29, 070 total public schools reviewed. The rankings were based on student/teacher ratio, college readiness, and average proficiency in math and reading.

Preregister for a 2015-16 Bus Pass TodaThe WDMCS Transportation department asks all families who would like bus transportation for the 2015-16 school year to please register by Friday, June 5, 2015. All students who wish to receive transportation (this includes returning students and new students) are required to register, if they have not already done so. You may register your student for new transportation or change existing transportation in one of the following ways:

  • Register electronically: Go to the ‘Transportation’ tab.
  • Register by mail (2102 Delavan Drive, West Des Moines, 50265) or fax (515-633-4999): Download a form.
  • Register by phone: 515-633-4990 (en espanol at 515-633-4989) and follow the prompts.

Bus service preregistration is very important in order to establish routes and provide your student’s bus pass. The goal of preregistration is to plan enough capacity to match demand and reserve a student’s seat for next year. Students who have preregistered will receive their bus passes at fall registration in August. Those who do not preregister may experience delays and risk not having transportation reserved when school starts.

As a reminder, to qualify for transportation services, the student must meet the minimum following criteria:

  • Attend a WDMCS school or Sacred Heart School
  • Attend the school within the assigned school boundaries as determined by their primary residence
  • Live outside the half-mile walk zone from assigned school for grades K-8 and the 3/4-mile walk zone from assigned school for grades 9-12

Students in kindergarten through eighth grades who live more than two miles from school and students in ninth through 12th grade who live more than three miles from school are eligible for free transportation. Students who live between the walk zone and the free zone may pay for transportation.

Please see the district website regarding questions about transportation, or call the Transportation department at 515-633-4902 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Murphy Earns Iowa World Language Association Award West Des Moines Community Schools Spanish teacher Amy Murphy was named the Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year by the Iowa World Language Association (IWLA). The award is given to the teacher who demonstrates the most exemplary work in the classroom and provides outstanding service to the profession in the state of Iowa.

Murphy teaches grades 1-6 at Fairmeadows and Western Hills elementary schools, going into classrooms twice each week. She has been teaching with the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) for eight years and has also taught at Clive and Crossroads elementaries. She is the World Languages department chair for the WDMCS, and is a member of the district’s Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) team.

No School on May 25 There will be no school for students on Monday, May 25, as it is Memorial Day.

Reminder: Last Day of School June 3, 2015 School was not in session Jan. 7 due to severe cold and low wind-chill values. The last day of school is now set for Wednesday, June 3, which will follow the early-out schedule.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities and programs from Two Rivers Martial Arts, the West Des Moines Public Library, and more!

Topics: Informaline

Informaline May 4, 2015


en español

Thank You, School Board Members Please join the district in saying “thank you” to our School Board members during Iowa’s School Board Member Recognition Month in May. We recognize the contributions made by the members of the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education, who are chosen through elections by you, the members of our community. These volunteer leaders are responsible for school system policy, approving curricula, maintaining school facilities, and adhering to state and federal education law.

We salute these public servants whose commitment and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible: Board President David J. Brown, Vice President Andi Lipman, Elizabeth Brennan, Dr. Kevin Carroll, H. Milton Cole, Tali Greenspon, and Dr. Vicky Poole.

To learn more about our School Board and its members, please visit:

Teacher Appreciation Week Did you know that there are 850 teachers and teacher/student assistants employed by the West Des Moines Community Schools? Of those teachers, 54.1 percent have earned a master’s degree, and four teachers have earned their doctorate degrees. As teachers, they pass on that knowledge to their students every day in the classroom. Thank your teachers for their commitment to providing students with an excellent education during this year’s National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8.

Valley Nurse Named Iowa School Nurse Of The YeaValley High School Nurse Melanie Hicklin was named the Iowa School Nurse Organization’s 2015 School Nurse of the Year. She has been a school nurse in the WDMCS for more than 20 years. She was nominated by Valley associate principal Dr. Erika Cook. Hicklin serves more than 2,000 students and families at Valley, and was recognized at the ISNO School Nurse Conference on April 10, 2015.

For School Nurse Appreciation Week this year, May 6-12, the district would like to thank Melanie Hicklin and the rest of our school nurses for the work that they do to keep students healthy.

School Lunch Heroes Many thanks to our school nutrition employees during School Nutrition Employee Week, May 4-8. They were honored for School Lunch Hero Day, on Friday, May 1.

Valley Senior Named To All-State Academic Team Valley High School senior Ojas Pradhan was named to The Des Moines Register’s All-State Academic Team on April 26. Schools nominate graduating seniors who stand out for “achievements in academics, community involvement, and leadership.” Editors from The Des Moines Register then identify students for statewide or regional recognition. Pradhan was one of 10 “outstanding students” recognized for Academic All-State recognition.

“I hope to get to a place in life where I can be happy with the decisions I’ve made,” Pradhan told the Register about his goals. “I want to feel like I accomplished everything that was within my reach.”

Youth Classes Survey WDMCS Community Education would like your input to help us better plan our future Adventures classes. These youth classes are offered after school, in the evenings, or on the weekends during the school year. Your input is very valuable to us, so please take a few moments to offer your suggestions.

The survey should take less than five minutes to complete and can be found online:

Walnut Creek Campus Celebrates Earth and Arbor Days Walnut Creek Campus participated in an all-school Day of Service on April 22, 2015. Staff and students spent the day in conjunction with the City of Clive cleaning-up green spaces and planting trees and wildflowers in celebration of both Earth and Arbor Day. Students and staff worked along the Clive Greenbelt Trail and around the Clive little free library they constructed for a previous service learning experience.

Shelley Clayton is the service learning coordinator for Walnut Creek Campus and coordinates the Day of Service. Service Learning is a program of WDMCS Community Education.

Jordan Creek Kids Care Club Earns National Recognition The Jordan Creek Elementary Kids Care Club was recognized by the National Kids Care Club and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) in November 2014. The club has since collaborated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign AAF chapter to develop a campaign promoting kindness and respect.

Inspired by a TeacherTube video, the club and the ninth-grade guests wrote positive messages in colorful footprints on the sidewalk outside the school in October 2014. The group also wrote on cut-out paper footprints, which they posted in the school hallways. Students now walk on the outdoor footprints every day, and many of the indoor footprints have stayed up as well. Tigges’ door is still covered in footprints.

“The whole idea was making a positive footprint,” she said. “You never know who might read your message.”

That positive focus attracted the attention of the National KCC. It was looking to support a student group as part of a partnership with the AAF. Students from Urbana-Champaign’s AAF chapter and their adviser, Steve Hall, visited Jordan Creek to learn more about the club and its impact. The AAF students observed the Jordan Creek KCC and interviewed Jordan Creek students, staff, and parents. The 500-person chapter, the largest in the country, brainstormed ways to support the Jordan Creek KCC. They envisioned using Jordan Creek to pilot a campaign, before spreading it to larger audiences.

“This is a huge opportunity for our district,” Dunnwald said. “Yes, this is a starting point, but they wanted to take it even further, to the district and the city.”

WDMCS Students Earn Top Ratings at Solo/Small Ensemble Festival Students in band, orchestra and vocal music at Valley High School and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School participated in the Iowa High School Music Association Solo/Small Ensemble Festival on April 18-19.

There were 15 entries from the Valley and Valley Southwoods band students. Ten of the entries were awarded the top rating of ‘Superior,’ and three received an ‘Excellent’ rating. Senior Derek Pham was recognized as the Center Nine Outstanding Performer for his performance of Keiko Abe’s “Frogs” on marimba.

More than 100 Valley vocal music students participated in the festival. Fifty performances received the top ‘Superior’ rating, and 25 performances received ‘Excellent’ ratings. Twelve performances received ‘Good’ ratings.

Thirty-six Southwoods vocal music students also participated in 28 events. Eight received ‘Superior’ ratings, 17 received ‘Excellent’ ratings, and two received ‘Good’ ratings.

There were 24 orchestra entries from Valley High School and Valley Southwoods, with 15 soloists and nine ensembles. The students performed a variety of music from notable composers, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

All nine ensembles and 12 soloists received the top rating of ‘Outstanding.’ The three remaining soloists received ‘Excellent’ ratings. Senior violinist Hannah Willard also received ‘Best of Center’ recognition for her performance of the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto.

No School On May 25 There will be no school for students on Monday, May 25, as it is Memorial Day.

Reminder: Last Day Of School June 3, 2015 School was not in session Jan. 7 due to severe cold and low wind-chill values. The last day of school is now set for Wednesday, June 3, which will follow the early-out schedule.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities and programs from Blank Children’s Hospital, the West Des Moines Public Library, and more!

Virtual Backpack  

Topics: Informaline