District News

Passion to Help the Hungry Inspires Senior Project

More than 100 students and staff helped package 38,016 meals for Meals from the Heartland.

Meals from the Heartland now has 38,016 more meals packaged thanks to the efforts of Valley seniors Amber Aeilts and Abigail Austin.

The duo coordinated efforts for their senior honors project, enlisting more than 100 volunteers for the event. After a year of planning, students, staff and community members assembled for two hours and were able to surpass Aeilts and Austin’s goal of packaging 30,000 meals.

“They have done a tremendous job,” said Dave Bradley, executive director of Meals from the Heartland. “We ship continuously overseas, but even locally, DMARC is coming to our warehouse to pick up 100 boxes of food to distribute right here in Des Moines through the food pantry system, so it means a lot.”

Both girls have been involved with Meals from the Heartland since its inception. They both believe that hunger is a prominent issue in the world and enjoy making a difference not only in their community but across the globe.

“It feels great being able to know that what we are doing as a school and what we are doing as a community is going to be able to help people both in the Des Moines area and everywhere else in the world,” said Austin. “Because of what we are doing kids will go to bed with food in their stomachs; it’s just a great feeling.”

Sewing for Girls in Sudan

The VHS sewing classes have been putting their talents to work for a good cause. Dress a Girl Around the World is a charity that provides sun dresses to little girls around the world, and the students at Valley have added 45 dresses to the cause with plans to make more next semester.

The class does a service project each year and family and consumer science teacher Kelli King saw this idea on Pintrest. While working out the details of getting the dresses shipped, she discovered that St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Des Moines was also making dresses for the project.

Read more here.

Valley Bullying Prevention Video in Contest

Valley High School is one of 23 schools from across the state that have submitted videos to the Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit Video Contest. The public can vote for its favorite video until Nov. 21 by going here. (more…)

Life in the WDMCS 11/12/12

Life in the WDMCS is a new weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Westridge Elementary
Fourth graders at Westridge Elementary are beginning a Colonial architecture paper structures in art class, inspired from their studies of the southeast part of the United States. They will be making a symmetrical 3D paper Colonial house with key elements such as mullioned windows, dormers, columns and pediments. Students will make a blueprint in their sketchbook and then transform their design into a 3D sculpture.

Fifth grade students at Westridge have been working very hard in General Music class to develop a program in observance of Veteran’s Day that was performed at Camp Dodge November 9. The theme of this year’s program was entitled “Partners in Patriotism.” This was the 13th annual concert for the Veterans. The same program was presented again for students and parents at Westridge Elementary. Joe Padilla, a recreational therapist from the VA, brought several veterans from the VA to the Westridge concert.  (more…)

AC for North Gym, Orchestra Pit Lift Approved

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held a meeting on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, and approved alternate bids for phase three of the Valley High School renovation project. This phase of the project primarily includes a new 1,140 seat auditorium, new performing arts practice space and a renovated north academic wing.

The alternate projects that will be included are: (more…)

Scieszinski Named Living History Farms Teacher of the Year

Indian Hills math teacher Jackie Scieszinski was named the Living History Farms Teacher of the Year on behalf of the Zephyr team. This award recognizes the efforts of a K-12 teacher who strives to bring history to life for his or her students by incorporating a program or tour from Living History Farms into their curriculum.

The Indian Hills Zephyr team has been taking students to Living History Farms for more than 20 years. Scieszinski has accompanied students on the trip for 16 of those 20 years.

“Through the years some of the activities have changed,” noted Scieszinski, “but the basic concept and philosophy behind this experience has remained the same: students are working together and experiencing – hands-on – life before technology.” (more…)

Students Learn About Voting at Phenix

Ana Galvez proudly displays her “I Voted” sticker.

Students at Phenix Elementary learned about the importance of Election Day and the rights and responsibilities of citizens who vote.  Librarian Kristy Skoglund set up a mock election at the Phenix library, complete with ballots and voting booths.  Her students were led in a discussion about ballots, candidates and the importance of voting.  Students enjoyed learning about and participating in the election process.  In Mary Johnson’s classroom, second graders watched a video about the history and importance of voting in America, and discussed why every vote counts.  In Jessica George’s class, second graders worked on different voting activities to help them learn about what it means to be able to vote.  All in all, Phenix students were eager to discover more about the voting process and make sure their vote counts!

Valley Student Helps Make Blank a Little Brighter


Valley senior Katelyn Cinnamon presented five iPads, with plans to add one more, to staff of the Blank Children’s Hospital’s Pediatrict Hematology/Oncology Clinic.

Patients in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Blank Children’s Hospital will be a bit more comfortable thanks to fundraising efforts by  Valley senior Katelyn Cinnamon. She presented the staff of the clinic with five iPads and plans to add one more to make sure each exam room at the clinic has ability for kids to learn and play during their stay.

“The iPad is a tool we use that makes their treatment easier to endure,” said Dr. Wendy Woods-Swafford, a pediatric oncologist at the clinic. “This gives more of them an opportunity to be distracted, so it makes their clinic stay seem less time; it makes painful procedures seem less painful. It’s an incredible gift for us and we are ecstatic to receive it.” (more…)

Life in the WDMCS 11/5/12

Life in the WDMCS is a new weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Westridge Elementary
The kindergarten classes from Westridge Elementary visited Howell’s Tree Farm and Pumpkin Patch. The students had many fun experiences, from playing on the farm, to feeding goats, to observing  the life cycle of a pumpkin first hand while riding out to the pumpkin patch to pick their own pumpkins.

Stilwell Junior High
As part of their earth science unit, Ruth Henderson’s advanced science classes researched the natural history of Iowa during five time periods:  400 million years ago, 300 million years ago, 100 million years ago,  20,000 years ago and 200 years ago.  The students described how continental drift affected the climate and geology of Iowa during these time periods.  They constructed dioramas to depict how Iowa would have looked and what types of landforms had developed as well as the evolution of plant and animal life.  (more…)

VHS Cheer Squad Wins State Title

For the sixth consecutive year, the Valley High School Competition Cheer Squad received first place in the 4A large squad division at the Iowa Cheerleading Championship.

Front row: Bre Nickens, Rebekah Cochran, Caroline Erickson, Jamie Bullington, Courtney Warren, Ashely Yap. Middle row: Coach Ashley Ellingson, Mackenzie Moran, Kaylee Shelton, Haley Melz, Amanda Merck, Carissa Just, Megan Renkel, Meenu Raja, Carter Forrest, Sara Wetzel, and Head Coach Beth Ferguson. Back row: Coach Jason Trost, Madison Castle, Megan Schnoebelen, Kaitlyn Harrington, Leah DeClerk, Bri Hagar, Natalie Lawyer, Maggie Laws, Ashley Joos, Leah Carlson, Samantha Bullington and coach Alyssa Doll