District News

WDMCS Facilities Planning Update

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.

Update Oct. 20, 2017
The November parent/community focus groups are full. To have a survey on this topic emailed to you, please submit your contact information to http://bit.ly/facilities-survey-request.

Survey Seeks Input Regarding Principal Retirement

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 bit.ly/valley-principal-survey.

Adding Tools to the Toolbox: WDMCS Teachers on How Professional Development Helps Students

Valley Teacher Kelsey Hudson Wins Award for “Impact of Islam” Lesson Plan

Kelsey Hudson

Valley High School social studies teacher Kelsey Hudson.

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.

She designed the lesson after noticing growing concerns regarding misinformation and bias towards the contributions of Islam to our world. The lesson challenges students to analyze multiple sources from and about Al-Andalus in order to form an argument about how the achievements of Islamic Iberia diffused and eventually influenced European History.

“Islamophobia is a trending issue at the state, national, and international level,” Hudson said in her application. “In order to dispel inaccurate information about Islam, (students) need to be aware of not only the history of Islam and of the actual religious practices of Muslims but also of the outstanding achievements made during the ‘Islamic Golden Age’ Caliphates.”

Congratulations to Hudson on her accomplishment and her continued commitment to the students at Valley High School. Watch for more information about this lesson as Hudson prepares to teach it in her classes this November.

(Valley High School teacher Lori Hinton contributed to this article.)

Join Us for National School Lunch Week Oct. 10-13!

NSLW2017 Salad

National School Lunch Week 2017 graphic.

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
    • Pick up a bingo card in the school office or cafeteria on Tuesday. Try the food items listed and mark them off on your card. Then, turn it in to a cashier or lunchroom helper to receive a prize!
  • Wacky Meal Wednesday
    • Eat a wacky meal with wacky names to celebrate National School Lunch Week! Cafeteria staff will also dress in wacky clothes and hats.
    • Menu: pig in a blanket made by the Valley High School bakery, smashed pumpkin potatoes, jiggly wiggly jello with fruit, and a fruit and veggie bar
  • Throwback Thursday
    • For Throwback Thursday, West Des Moines Community Schools will serve a meal that was popular in the district years ago.
    • Menu:  hot beef sundae (shredded roast beef and gravy served over a slice of bread and mashed potatoes), peas, and a fruit and veggie bar
  • Frozen Fruit Cup Friday
    • Get a 100% Fruit Frozen Juice Cup with your lunch purchase when you eat school lunch on Friday.

Stilwell Junior High Named National Blue Ribbon School

Stilwell Junior High was named one of 342 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday, Sept. 28. Stilwell is one of five Iowa schools and the only junior high school in Iowa to be recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.

“This is an award celebrating our Stilwell community past and present,” Principal Eric Boyle said during a schoolwide assembly. “We have a wonderful culture here at this school, and it’s the people before us and currently here who have put these cornerstones in place that mean so much to this school…. I’m so excited for everyone and extremely proud to be a Stilwellian today.”

Learn more about Stilwell’s award.

How To: Authorizing Google Drive in Canvas

Canvas logo

So teachers can easily share Google Docs with students, student Canvas accounts can access Google Drive. As more classes are starting to use Canvas, some students have had difficulty authorizing their Google Drive in Canvas. This information and the following message will be shared with families in Monday’s “Informaline” newsletter and on the district website.

Google drive logo new

To help 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 bit.ly/authorizedrive.

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

Heart Rate Monitors Provide Data for Supporting Student Health

This school year, WDMCS students from fourth grade through high school 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.

Welcome to IHT – Intro Video


The heart rate monitors are worn during P.E. class, 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 cardiovascular endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed, core strength, power, coordination and self-confidence.

The IHT Spirit System is designed to lend a hand to both teacher and student. Goals include helping students understand their own health and take ownership of their overall well-being for life. 

Tracking Progress

Student and teachers will be interviewed throughout the year to gain feedback on the benefits of this new program. In addition, data collected through the monitors will assist P.E. teachers and families work with their students to develop and attain health goals.

Questions related to this program can be directed to the student’s P.E. teacher or contact Brian Rhoads, K-12 Physical Education Curriculum Leader, at 515-633-5158 or email rhoadsb@wdmcs.org.

Valley Hall of Honor Nominations Open

Valley High School is excited to announce a new set of honors rolling out this school year. The Valley High School Hall of Honor will celebrate alumni, retired staff, and volunteers who have made…and continue to make…a positive impact on the Valley community.

The nomination period is open now through November 15, 2017. Click below to learn more and nominate someone today!

Learn More

Brennan, Poole, Wells Elected to School Board

Incumbents Elizabeth Brennan and Vicky Poole, Ed.D., and Jennifer Wells were elected to three open seats on the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education in the Sept. 12 school board election. The official vote canvass took place on Friday, Sept. 15.

Learn More