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Archive for Topic: 'Student Achievements'

Valley Graduate Tanner Stine Stars on Nickelodeon

When Tanner Stine was eight years old, he told his mom he wanted to be a movie star. jc_TannerStine_1

The 2013 Valley High School graduate is on his way to reaching his goal. This fall he is starring as “Oyster” in Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans.”

  • Click here to see Tanner Stine as “Oyster” in Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans.” The show airs Saturdays at 8 p.m.
  • See his return to Valley High School here.

Now living in Los Angeles, the 19-year-old Stine recently returned home to watch the premiere of his appearance in the TV show, and to stop by Jordan Creek Elementary to have lunch with his younger brother Dawson. He also visited his friend Abbie Kliegl at Valley High School and younger brother Chase, who is a senior at Valley.

Coming back to school was nostalgic for Stine.  “The biggest thing I noticed is how much smaller it is,” Stine said of Jordan Creek Elementary compared to when he was younger.

Although Stine knew early on he wanted to be an actor, it was not his only interest. After being in plays at the Des Moines Playhouse in fifth and sixth grade, he changed his focus in seventh grade and started to play football.

jc_TannerStine_lunch2“I love football and I still watch it today and wonder if I should have played football instead of coming out to L.A.,” Stine said. He was a junior when Valley High School won the state championship in 2011. Stine said he has great memories of playing football, but it wasn’t easy. He worked hard to improve while playing second string for most of high school.

Things changed his senior year. He become a starter for the Valley football team and competed in the IMTA (International Modeling and Talent Association) in Los Angeles, where he won Junior Male Actor of the Year and Junior Male Model of the Year.

Stine was signed right away with an agent. He moved to California and started attending Santa Monica College. He also started auditioning and got a part for one episode on Nickelodeon’s “The Haunted Hathaways.” He later auditioned for the “The Thundermans.”

“It was like a one audition deal,” Stine explained of his audition for “The Thundermans.” “They filmed it and the casting directors in the room liked what I did. A few days later they called and said you booked it. I said, ‘No call back?'”

He was initially hired for only two episodes, but the show kept calling him back. He ended up filming eight episodes.jc_TannerStine_teacher

In addition to acting, Stine attends Santa Monica College. Looking back on his education, Stine said what has helped him the most is learning that hard work leads to success.

“I think that was the biggest lesson for me in school was learning that the effort you choose to put into things is what you are going to get out,” he said. “I believe that you can do whatever you want to do — it’s just a matter of how hard you work to get it.”


Topics: Student Achievements, Uncategorized

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Board Highlights from Feb. 24

More WDMCS Students Proficient on State Test
According to a report released Monday, Feb. 24, students attending the WDMCS performed better in reading, math and science on the Iowa Assessments in 2013 than in 2012.

The Iowa Assessments are tests the state requires students to take in grades 3-8 and grade 11. In WDMCS, students take the tests in the fall.

“I am very optimistic about the data,” said Dr. Laurene Lanich, associate superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the district. In fact, the district met 16 out of its 17 annual improvement goals. “This is a significant achievement for our district and the students attending our schools.”

The data also shows:

  • 5 out of 8 grade levels saw an increase in the percentage of proficient students in math
  • 5 out of 8 grade levels saw an increase in the percentage of proficient students in reading

In comparison to students across the state, the WDMCS has a greater percentage of proficient students in mathematics, reading, and science in grades 3-11. The exception of in science for grade 11.

Lanich said while there are many variables that determine student performance on standardized tests, the district has implemented several strategies to improve instruction and student proficiency. These include district-wide professional development focused on:

  • Learning Targets: Written statements that provide clarity about what a student is supposed to know or be able to do.
  • Differentiation: A way of teaching; it’s not a program or package of worksheets. It asks teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning.
  • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): Groups of educators that meets regularly, share expertise and work collaboratively to improve instruction. Our PLCs work on answering the following essential questions to achieving effective instruction –
    • What is it we want our students to learn?
    • How will we know if each student has learned it?
    • How will we respond when some students don’t learn it?
    • How can we extend and enrich the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency?

For more information, please see the “West Des Moines Community School District Student Achievement Report 2013-14” on the district website.

Topics: Education, School Board News, Student Achievements

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 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. (more…)

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