District News

Life in the WDMCS 3/4/13

Life in the WDMCS is a 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.

Jordan Creek Elementary
The Jordan Creek archery team is ranked third in the state! Student rankings are here: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/shootingsports/leaguestandings_indsummary2_11.pdf. The team recently placed second overall in the elementary division at the Iowa Games Shoot with a team score of 2659. Members who participated in the Iowa Games Shoot with the National Archery in Schools Program included sixth graders Will Golay, Kyle Westhoff, Austin Emans, Cooper Johnson, Carson Brown, Benji Renken, Jackson Froscheiser, Blake Grevengoed, Griffin Satre & Tyler Johnston; fifth graders Jack Temme and Sam Hall; fourth graders Hunter Edgington, Will Fox, Adam Hisel, Nathan Buzzell, Pierce Blazek and Neal Marlett. Congratulations to all the archers who participated in the competition!

Fourth graders at Jordan Creek Elementary have been studying the Western Region of the United States. Students have made power points, posters, clay models, dioramas, puppet shows and presentations depicting the Transcontinental Railroad and the Gold Rush. The students have shared their knowledge of how these events changed the land and the people in the Western Region. Our students have struck gold!

Phenix Elementary
Tuesday Tastings are held the last Tuesday of every month at Phenix Elementary.  Kindergarten through third grade students at Phenix Elementary tasted three colors of bell peppers for their February Tuesday Tasting.  Each grade level listened and participated in a nutrition lesson taught by Jessica George, the school’s wellness coordinator and second grade teacher, about the benefits of eating vegetables, specifically bell peppers.  Students learned the difference in flavor and health benefits between bell peppers of different colors.  At the end of the lesson, they smelled and tasted a bite of each of the three colors: green, yellow and red.

Western Hills Elementary
Students at Western Hills had fun celebrating Valentine’s Day with their classes!  Each classroom had their own party which of course included exchanging Valentine’s!  Students played games, made hats, and ate goodies.  Students and teachers really appreciated all the help from Homeroom parents a well as parent volunteers.

Westridge Elementary
The 6th Grade Math Club had a great finish to their fall competitive season. Westridge students sat for the AMC 8 Worldwide Math Contest with the following students receiving top school honors: Connor Parnau – Gold; Jane Berg and Shuchi Srivastava – Silver; and Carsen Codel, Kyle Juist, Braedon Kirkpatrick and Brogan Kirkpatrick – Bronze.  The team of Parnau, Berg and Srivastava placed 11th out of 21 (older) middle school teams.  Codel and Brogan Kirkpatrick had the second highest scores in the state for fifth graders.  All of Westridge’s gold, silver and bronze winners outscored the worldwide average for their grade levels along with their teammates Grace Maller, Haley Losh, and Sasha Wallace. The Math Club finished their fall season with a fun Amazing Race Competition.  Congratulations to the following teams: Kyle Juist, Jon Shaner, and Connor Parnau for fastest finishing time and Brogan Kirkpatrick, Austin Letsch, and Hunter Underwood for highest score. The math club is continuing to practice and most recently compete in the February Mathcounts chapter competition.

Fifth grade students at Westridge Elementary had the opportunity to help out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  They were in charge of a fundraiser called Pennies for Patients, which collects money to be donated to helping those with leukemia.  The kick-off assembly for the fundraiser was on February 14 and included costumes, student speakers, a skit and a special speaker, Jessica Elwell of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each day of the donation week, students brought in generous monetary donations from home to help contribute.  Parent volunteers took the money to the bank to be counted and returned with class totals.  First, second, and third place were announced each day along with a reminder for what the following day’s dress-up attire would look like. The dress-up days were as follows:  Monday was 80’s Day, Tuesday was Senior Citizen Day, Wednesday was Team Day, Thursday was Hat Day, and Friday was Book Character Day (in coordination with the PTA’s Reading Rocks Fundraiser).  We had lots of fun participating in the dress-up days and getting everyone excited and pumped up to help out with this fundraiser! Westridge Elementary has raised over $4,900 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  There was a tie for first place in Mrs. Jaros’s third grade class and Mrs. Bruening’s kindergarten class and both classes will get to take part in a class pizza party. The fifth grade students did a great job working hard on this fundraiser, and all the donations and volunteer help is greatly appreciated!  Thanks to all who helped make this year’s Pennies for Patients fundraiser a success!

Indian Hills Junior High
On February 27, students in Shannan Belden’s eighth grade ELP class at Indian Hills arrested Natalie French for theft and arson. For the last six weeks, the students at Indian Hills have been working on solving a crime, a fire set in the media center to cover up the theft of a iPad. Students were working on a CSI unit and they had to collect evidence from the crime scene. They were required to interview all of the faculty in order to narrow down the suspects. Through interviews and analysis of the evidence they were leaning toward another suspect as the criminal. After examining all the evidence and the crime scene they found enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Mrs. French. It is believed that through negligence Mrs. French broke one of her classroom iPads and stole one from the media center to replace the broken one. Sargent Vern Lukehart, Indian Hill’s police liaison, assisted in making the arrest and reading Mrs. French her Miranda Rights.

Stilwell Junior High
The Stilwell archery team has completed its regular season.  Their record this year was as follows: third at Cornell, first at Johnston, first at Diagonal, second at the Iowa Games and second at Stilwell’s own Tiger Shoot Out.  Several Stilwell archers were in the top five individually for their age division.

On February 20, students in Shannan Belden’s eighth grade ELP class at Stilwell arrested Nicole Crawford for fraud and vandalism. For the last six weeks, the students have been working on solving a crime, the theft of a laptop in the drama room. Students were working on a CSI unit and they had to collect evidence from the crime scene. They were required to interview all of the faculty in order to narrow down the suspects. Through interviews and analysis of the evidence they were leaning toward another suspect as the criminal. After reexamining all the evidence and the crime scene they found the “smoking gun” that proved they had enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Mrs. Crawford. The motive for the theft appears to be fraud in order to collect insurance money to spend on the school play! Detective Jeff Lyon, Stilwell’s police liaison, assisted in making the arrest and overseeing that Mrs. Crawford was read her Miranda Rights!

Stilwell’s eighth grade boys’ basketball season has come to an end, and what a great season it was!  It was full of individual improvement, team unity, and sportsmanship for the 65 student-athletes who participated.  Many of the participants this year have been playing for years, while a handful of others were playing organized basketball for the first time.  The players were organized into A, B, C, D, E, and F teams and all had many moments of success.  The A-Team finished with an 11-1 record, while scoring an impressive 52 points per game and holding their opponents to under 29.  The group was very unselfish and brings a lot of talent to Valley next year.  The B-Team finished with an 8-4 record, the C-Team  11-1, the D-Team  5-0, the E-Team 4-0, and the F-Team 1-3.  This gave Stilwell an overall record of 40-12. Over the course of the season, the boys showed a lot of growth individually and as teammates.  Most importantly, they were often complemented on their focus and respectful demeanor.  It was a group full of leaders and they represented Stilwell well.   Thank you to all who have supported the team this year. The team is coached by Rob Wedebrand.

Ten Stilwell students participated in the MATHCOUNTS Chapter Competition, a national program designed to improve math skills among U.S. students. The local/chapter competitions take place in February, followed by the state competitions in March. The grand finale is the national competition in Washington D.C. in May. Over 275 students from Central Iowa and Des Moines area schools participated in this year’s Chapter Competition. The top five teams and top six individuals advance to the state competition to be held March 22 at the Olmsted Center on the Drake University Campus in Des Moines. The Stilwell team placed 11 overall out of 35 teams, and eighth grader Gabriel Mintzer placed first and will advance to the state competition as an individual competitor. The Stilwell MATHCOUNTS team is coached by Celeste Richardson.

Valley High School
Two of the three Valley Mock Trial teams who competed in regional playoffs will be advancing to state competition which takes place after spring break. Team members are Dylan DeClerck, Caitlin Edwards, Lucy Korsakov, Ben Kruse, Joel Kruse, Emma Lind, Megan Nubel, Rishi Shah, Grady Stein, Ben Weinberg, Katie Apland, Brooke Beatty, Lexi Brennan, Kyra Cooper, Rae Gernent, Catherine Leafstedt, Thomas Leafstedt and Abby Pepin.

Clive Elementary
Sixth grade students at Clive Elementary in Heidi Marean’s homeroom incubated and hatched 12 baby chicks. The students documented the chick’s embryonic progress and recorded the different stages of their 21 days of development. The students also made connections and noted similarities and differences between human and chick development using information learned through their unit about genetics and human growth and development in science class.

Crestview Elementary
Congratulations to Gwyn Chilcoat, a fifth grader at Crestview Elementary for reading and reporting on all Iowa Children Choice books. She noted that “CandyMakers” by Wendy Mass is her favorite.  An avid reader and frequent reviewer of the books she reads at Crestview, Gwyn wrote in her review of the book, “There are four main characters.  Each of them are working together, but each trying to win for himself. There is a candymaking contest. Who will win? There is some creepy spyness added for extra zest.  Sure, it’s a long book, but boy is it great!”

Crestview Elementary will host its annual school-wide Food, Family, Fun Night alongside the school’s Open House March 28 with a choose your own adventure style.  Families will enjoy a free taco supper, visit with teachers and enjoy planned activities.  Iowa State University engineering students will join Lego Team members and Crestview staff to help.  Each family will receive math take home materials and will have the opportunity to win educational games too.  All activities are designed to encourage reading while promoting mathematics.  All children in attendance will receive a free book.  The goal for the evening will be to show parents what their children are learning in school and how to help at home in an engaging way!  (Sponsored by WDMCS Title 1)

Crossroads Park Elementary
Crossroads Park Elementary will host its annual chorus concert March 11 at 6:30 p.m. Students in fifth and sixth grade are excited to present their concert to family and friends. The concert will feature a variety folk songs, songs in Hebrew and French, nonsense songs and pop songs.  There will also be band and orchestra solos and ensembles, selected by the instrumental instructors.  And of course it wouldn’t be a chorus concert without the annual singing of a “Hot Cup of Cocoa!”

Sixth grade students are involved with an economics study called JA BizTown, a hands-on learning facility combined with an eight-week curriculum. Sixth graders spent a full day running a city, learning how natural resources contribute to a community, the interdependency of jobs, production patterns, how the stock market works. election and campaign management and check book maintenance and how a bank works. Students held jobs such as mayor, bank president, disc jockey, accountant and sales manager. Students received paychecks for their work and spent their money at the city. A number of parents volunteered to help make this a success.  A big thank you to Mr. Stewart, Mr. Williams, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Shelton, Mr. House, Mr. DeTaeye, Mr. Maher, Mr. Paine, Mr. Blanchette, Mrs. Blanchette, Mrs. Paine, Mrs. Onsrud, Mrs. Bartlett, Mrs. Salloum, Mrs. Abeling, and Mrs. Johnson for volunteering their time to help with field trip.

Kindergarten Roundup Information

If your child will be five years old on or before September 15, 2013, he/she will be eligible to start kindergarten in the fall. In April, parents of 2013-14 kindergartners are invited to Kindergarten Roundup at each elementary school. Check the district website or call your school for times.

School Parent Meeting Kdg. Story Time
Clive April 4  PPD to April 17
Crestview April 2 April 9 and 10
Crossroads Park April 11 April 11
Fairmeadows April 11
Hillside April 11 April 15
Jordan Creek April 4 April 12
Phenix April 4 TBA
Western Hills April 9 April 30
Westridge April 3 April 11

If you have not yet signed up your 2013-14 kindergartner, follow the steps listed at the below link to get your child’s name placed on our list. If you are not sure which building attendance area you live in, please call 633-5101.

How do I register my child for kindergarten?


Schools are assigned based on the student’s home address. Our kindergarten classrooms are limited to 26 students per class. Because of this, some of our buildings do get full. By getting your child’s name placed on a kindergarten list now, you will hold a spot for the 2013-14 school year.

Any students put on our list after a building is full will be assigned — or “capped out” — to another elementary building in our district.

Parents should note that a school is responsible for placing students who live within its boundary area and any capped out students from another building before placing students who may voluntarily come from a different district or school. Parents are welcome to request a voluntary transfer or an open enrollment application. However, we cannot guarantee placement at a specific school and will not know if there is space at a requested school until August.

  • A capped out student is a child who lives in one school boundary area in the WDMCS, but because the kindergarten classrooms (which are limited to 26 students per class) were full at that building, was assigned to another elementary building in our district. Students who are capped out receive free transportation.
  • A voluntary transfer student is a child who lives in one school boundary area in the WDMCS, but requests to attend a school in another boundary area within the WDMCS. Parents who are approved for a voluntary transfer agree to limited transportation options from the district.
  • An open enrolled student is a child who lives in one district, but requests to attend another.  Parents who are approved for an open enrollment agree to limited transportation options from the district.

If you have questions about cap outs, voluntary transfers or open enrollment, please call the office of school/community relations at 633-5022.

Forney Earns President’s Volunteer Service Award

news-rachel-forneyRachel Forney, a sixth grader at Jordan Creek Elementary, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was presented by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Program on Behalf of President Barak Obama.

Rachel Forney, her mom and two siblings composed songs for a Christmas CD called “Not Too Little.”  The CD honors the life of four-year-old Jacob Graen, who wasn’t too little to share his love with others during his short time on Earth.  Proceeds from the sale of the CD helped to benefit children at YESS, Blank Children’s Hospital and families in the Sandy Hook School community. For every CD  purchased, Rachel and her family donated one to a children’s charity at Blank,  YESS and to the families of the Sandy Hook School Community.

Applications were distributed last September through all public and private middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of HandsOn Network. After local honorees were named, state-level judges selected stat honorees, distinguished finalists and certificate of excellence recipients. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.


Board Meeting Summary 2/25/13

The West Des Moines Community School District Board of Education held a meeting on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 and took the actions listed below. It also heard a report on Hillside Elementary school’s school in need of assistance status under No Child Left Behind.

Hillside is in its fourth year of being identified as a School In Need of Assistance (SINA) for Reading under NCLB. SINA schools that receive Title I funds – such as Hillside – must write a corrective action plan, offer school choice to parents and more, depending on how many years the schools have been identified. Schools identified for four years must develop a plan for restructuring the way they are governed. Schools that have been identified for five years must implement the plan for restructuring. While these steps have always been part of NCLB, the state education department has not rigorously enforced the requirement to restructure. This has changed, and now the state has told schools across Iowa that they must comply. Hillside was just told two weeks ago that it must start planning to change how it is governed. What does this mean? It means that planning needs to occur this year for changing how decisions are made regarding student achievement at Hillside next year. There are many options, but it is clear they “must be fundamental and substantial change in governance and oversight that has the greatest potential to improve achievement in Reading.” The next step in the process is for the Hillside and district administration to work together to study Hillside’s  test scores and other data and determine a process for planning a change in how Hillside is governed next year. Everyone in the Hillside community – the principal, parents, teachers and staff – will have a role in the process for planning.

The following are actions taken by the board at its Feb. 25 meeting:

  • approved substantial completion of work completed by Jensen Builders, Inc. and DeVries Electric, Inc. on the Valley High School Phase 1A project;
  • approved final acceptance of work completed by DeVries Electric, Inc. and Lansink, Inc. on the Valley High School Phase 1A project;
  • approved final acceptance of work completed by Corell Contractor, Inc. on the Valley Tennis Complex;
  • approved final acceptance of work completed by Academy Roofing & Sheet Metal Co. on the Westridge Elementary Exterior Renovations Project;
  • approved final acceptance of work completed by Poindexter Flooring on the Stilwell Phase III Project;
  • approved a contract ($14,350) with the National School Public Relations Association for a communications audit of the district, with a portion of the project to be paid for by Community Education;
  • approved a storage space lease agreement with  R&R Investors ($1510.50);
  • approved the bills for payment dated Feb. 25, 2013 in the amount of $7,830,043.28;
  • held a closed session as provided in section 21.5 (1) (e) of the open meetings law to consider whether to suspend or expel a student; reconvened into regular session; suspended a student for 45 school days;
  • approved the consent agenda including personnel resignations, recommendations, support staff new hires, certified staff initial contracts, minutes from the Feb. 4, 2013 and Feb. 12, 2013 meetings, a change order ($8,045) from Nikkel and Associates, Inc. to the Valley High School Phase 2 Project to change from single phase to three phase electrical and add a breaker for a salad cutter/mixer equipment, to change from 208V to 120V for a refrigeration unit relocation, to furnish and install drop down cord reels for food warmers in a kitchen, changes orders to the Stilwell Phase II project from Nikkel and Associates  ($5,148.17) for a back-charge by Olympic for repair of damaged ceiling tile in kitchen, a back-charge to Central Iowa Mechanical for replacing VFD damaged by leaking pipe, and a back-charge to Hansen for repair of conduits damaged by Hansen’s concrete contractor in kitchen, from Hansen Companies Inc. (-$1,153.50) for a back-charge to Central Iowa Mechanical for cost of removing two trees that were removed for installation of grease interceptors and to temporarily protect gas pipe in mezzanine, a back-charge from Nikkel and Associates for repair of conduit damaged by Hansen’s concrete contractor, from Olympic Companies Inc. ($926.99) for a back-charge to Nikkel and Associates for the cost of repairing damaged ceiling tile, a back-charge to Central Iowa Mechanical for repair of ceilings, a back-charge to Boelter for repair of ceilings, from Central Iowa Mechanical (-$4,321.33) for a back-charge from Olympic Companies for repair of ceiling, a back-charge from Hansen to replace two trees that were removed for grease interceptor installation and for protecting gas pipe at mezzanine, a back-charge from Nikkel and Associates to replace VFD that was damaged by leaking pipe, from Boelter (-$600.33) for a back-charge from Olympic for the cost to repair ceiling where damaged by Boelter;
  • approved to amend the minutes of the Feb. 12, 2013 meeting;
  • approved to accept the amended Feb. 12, 2013 minutes.