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Archive for October, 2017

Informaline—Oct. 16, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual 

Important Dates
Oct. 16: Career and Apprenticeship Showcase, 4-6:30 p.m.
Oct. 16-20: CogAT Testing for Third Grade
Oct. 17: School Community Network Meeting, 9:15 a.m.
Oct. 20: Second Quarter Transportation Fees Due
Oct. 23: School Board Workshop Session, 5:15 p.m.
Oct. 23: School Board Regular (Business) Meeting, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: End of First Quarter

Winter Weather! Notification System Test Oct. 24
 West Des Moines Community Schools is getting ready for winter. To help keep students and staff safe, we provide notifications of inclement weather or emergency situation school closings. We will be conducting a test of this weather notification system at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Read more about the test call.

You’re Invited to Preschool Palooza!
Join us for Preschool Palooza on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Hillside Elementary!

Children ages 2-6 will enjoy activities, while their grown-ups gather information about early childhood opportunities and kindergarten registration in the West Des Moines Community Schools.

WDMCS Students Explore Equity in Arts-Based Program
More than 50 students from Valley High School, Walnut Creek Campus, and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School had the opportunity to attend their first equity training session on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Learn more about the arts-based equity training. Students will participate in three total days of training during the 2017-18 school year in order to build a greater understanding of equity, diversity, and issues of social justice.

National School Bus Safety Week: Bus Payments Due!
National School Bus Safety Week is taking place Oct. 16-20! To make sure all bus riders continue to have safe transportation, take this chance to make sure your transportation plans are in place for the second quarter. Second quarter transportation fees are due Friday, Oct. 20. Fees can be paid at your child’s school or through the online payment system.

This is also a good time to change your child’s ridership details, if needed. Please complete and submit the “Make Change to Current Ridership” form if you would like to make changes. You can also contact our Transportation Department at 515-633-4902.

Remember to thank your bus driver and practice safe bus riding this week during National School Bus Safety Week!

Flu Shots Available Oct. 17 and Nov. 14
As we head into flu season, two West Des Moines Community Schools buildings will host flu shot clinics open to the entire community:

  • Oct. 17: 3:30-7:30 p.m. at Crestview School of Inquiry, 8355 Franklin Ave., Clive
  • Nov. 14: 4-7:30 p.m. at Hillside Elementary School, 713 Eighth St., West Des Moines

All students, families, and community members will be able to receive flu shots at either clinic.

Dual Language Immersion Program Seeking Native Spanish Students
The WDMCS Dual Language Spanish Immersion program will start with incoming kindergarten students for the 2018-19 school year at Western Hills Elementary. It will be a 50/50 program where students learn in English and Spanish. We are still seeking to fill the 13 open slots for Native Spanish speakers. The deadline to indicate an interest in this program is Dec. 15, 2017. Learn more about the program and how to register.

WDMCS Teacher Kelsey Hudson Wins Award for “Impact of Islam” Lesson Plan
Valley High School social studies teacher Kelsey Hudson received the Don Fett Award for Outstanding Lesson Design at the Iowa Council for the Social Studies Conference on Oct. 2. Hudson’s lesson plan, “The Impact of Islamic Iberia on Western Civilization,” seeks to help students understand the importance of medieval Andalusian achievements through a Document-Based Question. Congratulations to Hudson on her accomplishment and her continued commitment to the students at Valley High School. Learn more about her award. Watch for more information about this lesson as Hudson prepares to teach it in her classes this November.

We Want Your Input!
Facilities Planning Framework Timeline Set
WDMCS will be working with administration, staff, students, families, and the community this fall to gain feedback in laying the groundwork for the development of a 10-Year Facilities Plan. Topics include preschool needs, whether to move sixth grade out of elementary buildings, project-based learning environments, and other key initiatives. The resulting framework is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Education in early January. If you are interested in being part of a parent or community focus group either Nov. 14, 15, or 16, please RSVP at by Friday, Nov. 3.

Survey Seeks Input Regarding Principal Replacement
Valley High School Principal Tim Miller will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. WDMCS has hired a search firm to support the search and recruitment of the next Valley High School principal. Part of the process includes gaining community feedback on the desired characteristics of the individual who will fill this role. To participate in this survey, visit

Fall Classroom Party Ideas
With the changes this school year to the district’s wellness policy, we wanted to send helpful ideas for planning your fall parties. You can order Harvest Cookies that meet the nutrition guidelines through WDMCS Nutrition Services. We also encourage non-food celebrations, which can include games, music, and physical activities. Get fun ideas to help make your fall party a hit!

Adding Tools to the Toolbox: WDMCS Teachers on How Professional Development Helps Students
West Des Moines Community Schools teachers spent Oct. 9 learning and collaborating in a variety of ways to improve student achievement. See what they had to say about the professional development on Oct. 9:

Topics: Informaline

WDMCS Students Explore Equity in Arts-Based Program

More than 50 students from Valley High School, Walnut Creek Campus, and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School had the opportunity to attend their first equity training session on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The students took part in Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!), an arts-based education program that is part of the Deep Equity framework chosen to guide the West Des Moines Community Schools’ equity work.

Youth Equity Stewardship Co-Founder/Executive Director Benjie Howard—son of Deep Equity creator Gary Howard—and Creative Director Wade Colwell-Sandoval led students through discussions and activities designed to help them examine their personal cultures and journeys. Songs, poems, and interactive activities supported the students’ learning.

In order to establish Tone and Trust, the first phase of Deep Equity training, students first worked together to create community agreements, guidelines for discussion that help to create a welcoming environment. WDMCS students’ community agreements included respecting the golden rule, assuming good intent, listening to understand, and collaborating. They also discussed stewardship and their personal strengths and growth areas as stewards in the community.

The students then completed an activity district staff experienced during their training in July. Students examined the statement “We, the people,” from the U.S. Constitution. They compared and contrasted the groups of people it represented in 1787—white, male property-owners—with the people present in the room. Then, they evaluated on a scale from zero to 100 percent how well the country has done making Constitution ideals accessible to all people. WDMCS students were approximately spread from 10 percent to 60 percent. They discussed social progress in small groups before representatives presented their thoughts to the entire group. The workshop ended with a discussion about what diversity is and a reflective poetry-writing activity. Students were given the opportunity to share these poems with the entire group. It was a powerful and emotional way to culminate the day’s activities.

Students will meet again on Jan. 24 and April 18 to continue their training. They will participate in three total days of training during the 2017-18 school year in order to build a greater understanding of equity, diversity, and issues of social justice.

Topics: Equity

Informaline—Oct. 2, 2017 Issue

PDF | en español | Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Important Dates
Oct. 9: Professional Development—No School for Students
Oct. 10-13: National School Lunch Week
Oct. 26: End of First Quarter

Dunnwald Elected School Board President
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education elected Melinda Dunnwald as its president and Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.  as its vice president on Monday, Sept. 25.

The Board also appointed Dunnwald to serve as the Board’s representatives on the district’s School Community Network, which is a committee of parents, teachers, and administrators. Board member Vicky Poole, Ed.D., was appointed as the Board’s representative on the West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation, and Liz Cox was appointed as the Board’s representative on the Iowa Association of School Boards’ Delegate Assembly.

Learn more about our 2017-18 Board of Education.

How To: Authorizing Google Drive in Canvas
So teachers can easily share Google Docs with students, student Canvas accounts can access Google Drive. As more classes start to use Canvas, some students have had difficulty authorizing their Google Drive in Canvas.

To help students authorize Google Drive accounts through Canvas, West Des Moines Community Schools Online Learning Coordinator Carrie Jacobs has provided a detailed how-to complete with screenshots. Students and families can access these instructions at

If these steps do not complete the authorization, or if you need assistance, please contact Jacobs at 515-633-5159 or

No School for Students Oct. 9 While Teachers Collaborate
Students have the day off from school on Monday, Oct. 9, while teachers spend the day learning and collaborating in a variety of ways to improve student achievement.

Teachers serving students in grades 3-12 will be involved in training with Canvas, our district’s online learning system where course information and resources are stored. Teachers serving students in grades K-2 will be participating in learning around small group reading instruction. In addition, some New Tech project-based learning facilitators will be engaging in learning centered on Echo, the learning management tool supported by New Tech Network, as well as engaging in project development and building professional learning. Some secondary facilitators will also experience a project simulation with the support of community partners from Shive-Hattery and Food Dudes.

Teachers will be able to put their learning directly into action when students come back to school on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Read more about teachers’ Oct. 9 learning.

Join Us for National School Lunch Week Oct. 10-13!
To recognize the National School Lunch Program and the 30 million children it serves every day, the West Des Moines Community Schools will celebrate National School Lunch Week from Oct. 10-13. Families are invited to eat lunch with their children during National School Lunch Week. If you would like to join your child, please call your child’s school to reserve a meal and find out specific meal times. Students will also be able to participate in these activities throughout the week: “I Tried It” Bingo Tuesday, Wacky Meal Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and Frozen Fruit Cup Friday.

Learn more about how WDMCS is celebrating National School Lunch Week at

Mediacom Denying WDMCS Campus Messenger Emails
Mediacom is blocking families with email address from receiving emails from Infinite Campus Messenger. This includes daily announcements, the “Informaline” newsletter, and other messages from

We have an open ticket with Mediacom tech. support and are waiting for a resolution to the issue. In the meantime, families can add an email address that does not use to Infinite Campus or access announcements and “Informaline” online.

We plan to communicate with affected families using methods other than Infinite Campus Messenger. Please watch the WDMCS Technology Department blog for updates at

Heart Rate Monitors Provide New Data for Supporting Student Health
This school year, students in grades 4-12 have been introduced to a new physical educational technology and curriculum system called the Interactive Health Technologies Spirit System. This new technology engages students in the latest heart rate monitor and assessment technology available today.

The heart rate monitors are worn during P.E. and are designed to help students gain instant feedback on their effort. This program also engages and educates students on a variety of fitness activities that optimize fitness, coordination, and self-confidence.

Data collected through the monitors will assist P.E. teachers and families as they help students develop and attain health goals. Learn more at

You’re Invited to Preschool Palooza!
Please join us at our fifth Preschool Palooza, 9:30 a.m to noon, Saturday, Nov. 4, at Hillside Elementary! Children ages 2-6 will enjoy fun and educational activities while their grown-ups gather information about early childhood opportunities, such as preschool programs and kindergarten enrollment in WDMCS. All activities and snacks are free.

For more information, visit


Topics: Informaline