District News

School Board Highlights from May 13 Meeting

At its recent regular meeting, May 13 the School Board:

  • approved the consent agenda including personnel resignations, recommendations, support staff new hires, certified staff initial contracts, bills for payment and change orders
  • approved that the board accept statements of interest from candidates interested in the position of interim superintendent and those statements must be made to the Board president or Vice President by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20
  • approved the district’s Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan
  • approved the 2013-14 Board meeting calendar
  • approved 87 Walnut Creek Campus students for diplomas contingent upon the completion of all graduation requirements;
  • approved the low bid for the Jordan Creek 2013 improvement project
  • approved the tentative agreement with the West Des Moines Educational Support Personnel with updates to contract language and a total package increase of 2.96 percent
  • approved the tentative agreement with the West Des Moines Education Association with updates in the contract language and a total package increase of 3.96 percent
  • approved student teaching agreements with Drake University, Grand View College, Iowa State University, Luther College, Simpson College, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and Upper Iowa University
  • approved a contract with the Des Moines Arts Center to provide reduced-price class credits to WDMCS students
  • approved a contact with Drake University for rental of the Knapp Center for VHS commencement rehearsal and graduation
  • approved a contract with Global Reach Internet Productions to design, develop and host a new website for WDMCS Community Education with a searchable database to provide community with information about opportunities, activities, programs and services for all ages
  • held two closed sessions as provided  in section 21.5 (1) (e) of the open meetings law for student discipline matters

The WDMCS Board meetings will be held primarily at the new Walnut Creek Campus (1020 8th Street, WDM) through September while the LRC is being renovated. Follow live informal Board highlights on Twitter @WDMCS and see a more detailed informal meeting summary on our website at


Mintzer Receives Perfect Score on National Math Exam

news-mintzerStilwell Junior High eighth grader Gabriel Mintzer had a perfect score on the American Mathematics Competitions 8 (AMC 8) exam, the best score in the state of Iowa.

Mintzer is one of just 153 students nationwide with a perfect score on the test, putting him in the top 0.1 percent of students taking the test. Across the country, there were 2,436 schools that participate in the competition with 152,670 total students taking the test.

The AMC 8 is a 25 question, 40 minute multiple choice exam in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development and enhancement of problem solving skills. The exam provides an opportunity to apply the concepts taught at the junior high level to problems which not only range from easy to difficult but also cover a wide range of applications. Many problems are designed to challenge students and to offer problem solving experiences beyond those provided in most junior high school mathematics classes. Calculators are not allowed.

Visit http://amc.maa.org for more information.

WDMCS Staff Recognized for Service

The Staff Recognition Committee, an independent committee of community members, held its annual Staff Recognition Reception May 9, honoring this year’s district retirees as well as employees with 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service to the WDMCS. A list of retirees and honorees can be found in the program.

As a thank you from the community, district staff members are treated to hors d’oeuvres and a short program before a door prize drawing. All door prizes are donated by community members and local businesses and the event is paid for through sponsor donations to the committee.

Thank you to committe co-chairs Susan Bridge and Teresa McLaughlin and committee members Tammy Cline, Amy Kuennen, Rhonda McCoy, Kelly McQueen and Karla Simon for their hard work and planning of this event.

A special thanks to Pamela Ballard and the third grade student artists at Hillside Elementary for today’s table centerpieces.

Life in the WDMCS 5/13/13

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.

Valley High School
This is a call to all former actors, mimes, techies, choir members and musicians who would like to say goodbye to VHS Auditorium on Saturday May 18 at 5:30 p.m.  Come and share some memories and see old familiar faces.  There will also be a premiere showing of a documentary featuring the Valley High School Auditorium.  Hope to see you there!  If you have any questions, please email vandeventert@wdmcs.org.

Clive Elementary
Clive Student Council is wrapping up another successful year.  This year nearly 80 second through sixth graders met monthly to help work to improve the school.  Among the projects this group undertook were a winter clothing drive, improving lunch room behaviors, decreasing bullying, counting box tops that raise valuable money for Clive programs and being role models for the rest of the student body.  The council members were led by presidents Maura Ortner and Brantley Cox, both sixth graders.  As a reward for successful year the members will be walking to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream treat.

Crestview Elementary
The Crestview halls have been filled with music as students prepared for spring concerts and the sixth grade Honor Music Festival. This concert was held May 7 in the Valley Auditorium. Many Crestview students were involved in this concert because of their hard work and commitment to their various ensembles. Congratulations to the following students on a job well done and being chosen to be a part of the sixth grade Honor Band: Alexa Nelson, Gabe Lockin, Natalie Bullard, Barbara Nicholson, Lauren Stetson, Austin Anfinson, Alison Whitaker, Anya Finkelshteyn and Abby Ringgenberg.

Crossroads Park Elementary
The Crossroads Park Cougar Council held their annual Movie Night recently, raising more than $700. The Council is proud to donate $500 to the WDMCS Student Scholarship Fund and will use the rest for future events.  Many students stayed after school to set-up the event, worked vigorously in concessions helping the 200+ people who attended and then cleaned up to make the gym and kitchen spotless.  We are very proud of their hard work, leadership, and excellent example of good character. Student planners and workers were Cam Mears, Hanna Marcus, Greta Stewart, Samantha Morris, Emily Anders, Brett Shelton, Christina Melendez, Emma DeJong, Katie Richards, Kelly Dulaney, Ava Neppl, Lauren Schulze, Quinn Emison, Emily Strawn, Callie Kreps, Dakota Hayes-McCoy, Nate Bell, Shreya Gaddi, Derek Nguyen, Jessica Erickson, Ariel Corona, Leah Thomas and Malini De Jong.

Hillside Elementary
Hillside had 13 students chosen to participate in the sixth grade Honors Festival May 7 at Valley. The students auditioned to be a part of the select groups and participated in morning rehearsals beginning in March. The concert features sixth graders from the around the district collaborating in band, orchestra, choir and handbells.  Honor Choir students from Hillside were Lawrence Byerly, Chloe Shoepke, Kendra Thompson, Cole Strelecki, Victoria Moreno, Amariah Williams, Kadin Kees, Erika Gomez and Isabella Garza; Honor Band students were Valerie Sihavong and Isabella Garza; and Honor Orchestra students were Kendra Thompson, Chloe Schoepke, Chloe Beem, Rose Blobaum and Adler Goodhall.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Second grade students worked hard to honor their mothers for Mother’s Day.  Thank you to Dahl’s Grocery Store for providing letter writing papers and frames, as well as giving posters to each class to fill out to hang in our neighborhood grocery store.  We appreciate the donation of these supplies. Students also made special cards that included a drawing of their mothers, a poem, and a picture of each student holding a vase of colorful flowers that we called a “forever bouquet.”  Everyone is very thankful for their mother, and all she does to help make the days go well!

The 13th annual WDMCS Math Bowl was held on May 2 at Indian Hills Junior High.  Jordan Creek was represented by third graders Andy Haugen, Anika Jain, Noah Pins, Rahul Reddy, Layne Slater, Tyson Trimble, Ryan Wirtz and Elaine Wang; fourth graders Pierce Blazek, Jimmy Hall, Segal Jain, Andy Kuster, Heather Nguyen, Gabe Schebel, Aditi Tripathy and Jalyn Wu; fifth graders Veda Amalkar, Avery Merkley, Caroline Ash, David Carpenter, Animesh Joshi, Clara Mintzer, Elyse Porter and Kevin Qi; and sixth graders Jackson Froscheiser, Jessica Haugen, David Head, James Meng, Shuvethan Sivagurunathan, Evan Porter, Nicky Trane and Radha Velamuri. The district recognizes students who scored in the top 10 percent of the district in their grade level test.  James Meng and Veda Amalkar both received recognition for this honor.

Phenix Elementary
The cast of “Seussical, the Musical” from the Des Moines Playhouse visited first and second graders at Phenix Elementary. The cast shared some of their favorite lines from the play, showed the students some of the props used and even sang some songs from the show.  The visit ended with the cast giving every student their own copy of the book “Horton Hears a Who” for their keepsake.  The cast then read the book with small groups of students.  Phenix took a field trip to see the live performance on April 29.  After the performance, students wrote letters to the cast.  Each student will receive a written response from the actors.  What a great opportunity these children have had seeing literature brought to life!

Westridge Elementary
Second graders at Westridge Elementary have several things to look forward to in the month of May. They will travel to the Botanical Center where the students will explore and learn about fascinating plants. This trip will be the culminating activity for a plant unit where they have been studying and growing plants of their own.  While in Des Moines, the second graders will also tour the State Capitol. Some of the highlights will include the State Senate and House of Representatives Chambers, the Law Library, the doll case, Westward mural, mosaics, interior dome and a model of the USS Iowa. To celebrate a love for reading, the second graders will also enjoy their last Book and Bag at the park. The Book and Bag celebration is a reward for completing independent reading throughout the month. Students will have the opportunity to enjoy great literature, play games with their classmates and have a picnic in the park.

Stilwell Junior High
Congratulations to Stilwell Team I’s Pam Chander for being the eighth grade Iowa winner in the “Letters about Literature” contest.  Over 1,400 letters were entered in the junior high level and Pam took the top prize.  She received $75 and her letter was moved on to the national level.  On May 3, Pam read her award-winning letter during a recognition ceremony held at the Des Moines Public Library.  Team I also had semi-finalists in Catie Judge and Garry Reineke, and Guowei Chi was a finalist. Their teacher is Kay Woods. From Team T, Alanna Maxwell was a semi-finalist and Sam Cole was a finalist.  Their teacher is Katie Seiberling. From Team G, Maddie Perdue was a semi-finalist and her teacher is Kerry Bootsma.

WDMCS Announces Separation Agreement with Superintendent

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education today announced a separation of employment agreement with district superintendent, Dr. Peter Ansingh.

“On behalf of the school board, the parents, faculty and staff, I would like to thank Dr. Ansingh for his service to the students and teachers of our district,” said Mark Lagomarcino, vice president of the WDMCS Board of Education. “He carried out his responsibilities as superintendent professionally and ethically, and we appreciate his contributions to our district.”

The board approved the separation of employment agreement with Dr. Ansingh at a special session Thursday evening. The Board of Education will immediately begin developing a transition plan, including naming an interim superintendent.

Ansingh served as superintendent for two years. Prior to West Des Moines Community Schools, he was superintendent of the West Valley School District in Yakima, Wash.


Valley’s Freund Receives Highest Score in State for National Spanish Exam

news-freundValley High School junior Harry Freund recorded the highest score for level four students in the state of Iowa on this year’s National Spanish Exam. On the level five test, Kendall Neuberger placed third, Kylie Boeve placed fifth, Caroline Erickson placed sixth, followed by Kimberly Sorensen and Daniel Malina in ninth and tenth, respectively.

In addition to placing well in the state rankings, students from Valley High School earned a total of three silver and one bronze medal along with five honorable mentions in the national awards. Silver medals are award to those students scoring between the 85th-94th percentile and bronze to those scoring between the 75th-84th percentile. Honorable mention is awarded to students scoring between the 50th-74th percentile. Silver medals went to Freund, Neuberger and Boeve with Erickson receiving the bronze.

“Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious,” said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, National Director of the Exams, “because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States with over 156,000 students participating in 2013.”

Students from Valley have a long history of high achievement on these exams and were taught by Valley Spanish teachers Sue Boyle, Krista Cooley, Tara Friedley, Suzanne Herr and Piet Van der Meer as well as Lisa Sobotka, Josiah Brandt and Betty Baum-Ferree at Valley Southwoods.

The National Spanish Examinations are administered each year for sixth graders through seniors, and are sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

More information on the National Spanish Exam can be found at www.aatsp.org or www.nationalspanishexam.org.

Life in the WDMCS 5/6/13

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.

Valley High School
Chloe Matthews, Lydia Saggau and Melissa Shepherd have been selected to participate in the Senior All-Start Track & Field Spotlight Meet on June 7-8 in Joliet, Ill.  The meet spotlights the senior talent from Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois as the three states compete against each other.  This marks the 15th year of this meet and the first time that Valley has had three girls selected to participate in the same year. Congratulations!

Congratulations to Yan Chan, Dani Lipman, Jimin Park and Autumn Seo, who won first prize at the Chinese Speaking Competition this Saturday at the University of Iowa.  This followed the Chinese Lion Team of Suryatej Akavaram/ Tej, Isabelle Pierotti-May, Ashley Segura, Cassandra Merrell and Ben Wade that opened the competition. The Chinese Speaking Competition is organized by Confucius Institute at University of Iowa every other year and this is the first year for high schools in Iowa to participate. The participating teams are from Central Campus, Ankeny, Bondurant, J. F. Kennedy, Marshalltown and Northview school districts.

Clive Elementary
Sharon Hart’s second-grade class has been studying the ocean.   During this unit, her students have been writing letters to Seashell Girl, a friend of Mrs. Hart’s who lives in Florida.   In their letters, the students have asked questions about the ocean and seashells.  Seashell Girl has been writing letters back to them answering their questions and teaching them more about the ocean around Florida.  She sent each student a packet of Florida seashells to keep. The class has been studying each of the seashells, using a reference book on Florida Seashells.  This has been a wonderful addition to our study of the ocean.

Clive Elementary held its Third Passport to Learning family event for 62 ESL students and family members at the Urbandale Public Library.  Families started the evening with a pizza dinner and a tour of the library.  Each student took their own passport and with their families and visited four stations: Story Time, All About the Library, Learning Activities You Can Do at Home and How to Use the Card Catalog.  At the conclusion of the evening, each family received a magnetic whiteboard, magnetic letters, dry-erase marker and two books to take home.  Families were also able to apply for a library card and check out books at that time. The Urbandale library staff, Clive ESL teachers (Sonya Coy, Kelly McCulley, Crys Messer, Leah Taylor and Ken Sims), Clive staff (Rachael Binder, Jenni Jones, Catherine Michl, Anne Olson, and Abby Boruff) and Spanish Interpreters (Rosa Pagan and Belen Warnemunde) all worked together to plan and implement this event. Clive Principal Brandon Pierce, Superintendent Peter Ansingh and Assoc. Superintendent for Curriculum Laurene Lanich also attended.  Learning and fun was had by all!

Fairmeadows Elementary
Staff and students at Fairmeadows are focusing on being people of good character.  The staff at Fairmeadows chose students they felt were showing the pillars of character in all parts of the school day.  These students showed the staff they are responsible, respectful, trustworthy, fair, caring and good citizens. Students received a special certificate, pencil and had their picture taken to be displayed in the front hall of the school. Students included in our May celebration are Frankie Hassler, Laney Schultz, Ian Kearney-Regnold, Josh Meyers, Connor Helm, Cecelia Stegh, Holly Fess, Emily Croft, Luck Pike, Ella Leistner, Juliett Kelly, Dominik Baftiq, Jordan Dewes Olivia Jacobsen, Faith Triana, Annalise Tucker, Jaselle Myers, Neil Madigan, Jaedon Hennessy, Liam Bechman, Adrien Hart, Camyrn Benz, Cohen Kooker, Ben Fess, Emerson Drake, Zachary Basart-Morse, Ally Hoffa, Brianna Carenza, Kyle Tu, Justin Zarate, Nicole Jordan, Kelsey Erickson, Kyra Brown, Alex Bacilio, Oscar Lara, Louis Lara, Sophie Weedman, Maren Stegh, Caden Moore Ella Gallagher, Kate Kelly, Laura Kipnusu, Alyana Horn, Euron Bajrami, Delaney Grant, Nick Feingold, Kate Cairney, Hailey Carenza, Logan Kha, josh Yencer, Brandon Lee, Gracie Coleman, Connor O’Ryan, Trisha Bedwell, Sarah Kanehl, Evan Armitage, Morgan Tyma, Jordan Andrus, Owen Smith and Noah Micka.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Fifth graders at Jordan Creek visited the State Capitol and Iowa Historical Building recently. They toured the Capitol, learned about its history and had a chance to see where our state government works.  At the Historical Building students had a chance to tour exhibits featuring the Civil War, Iowa’s Natural Resources and Iowa History. It was a educational-and fun-day for all!

Phenix Elementary
This year the West Des Moines Community School District will be holding its 30th annual Math Quiz Bowl.  The competition gathers third through sixth graders from across the district and challenges them to a math test based on their grade level.  Only the top performing students from each grade are selected.  Phenix is proud to announce that Emma Fetters, Sophia Nelson and Brooklyn Johnson will be representing the school.  The students are very excited to show off what they have learned so far in third grade and to compete with children from other schools.  Each student participating will earn a ribbon and certificate of achievement.  Good luck to all participating!

Stilwell Junior High
Stilwell Men’s Choir and Show Choir embarked on their annual tour of elementary schools on April 29, visitng Jordan Creek, Western Hills, Hillside and Fairmeadows.  For a breather, students ate lunch at Jordan Creek mall.  The students enjoyed singing at their alma maters and seeing their elementary teachers.  The performances also serve as a way to prepare for the upcoming concerts in May.  Men’s Choir meets one morning a week before school hours, and show choir usually practices twice weekly. All students are members of the 7-8 grade Stilwell school choirs. The tour is a yearly tradition for the school groups.

Stilwell’s Team R set out on its second annual fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa the month of April.  Seven Tiger Times participated in their community service project to raise over 600 items for the ARL here in Des Moines. The majority of items donated came in the form of needed bath towels for the ARL.  When rescues occur, many animals are in such dire need of bathing that the ARL nearly depletes their supply.  Some students brought in as many as 20 and 30 towels each.  Others donated kitty litter, dog food, cans of cat food, paper towels as well as other needy items on the ARL donation list. It took a SUV and another van to accommodate the boxes of donations.  Five ARL workers greeted the delivery with smiles and shrieks of pure joy, joining in hauling the contributions.  Somewhere in the echoes of the rescue league we heard barks of joy and meows of thanks, we’re sure.

Every month students who demonstrate the three cornerstones of Stilwell in their behavior are nominated by staff members to be featured in the Celebrating Stilwell Students program.  Students receive a coupon for a free lunch or a la carte menu item in addition to having their photo and accomplishments posted in the display case at school. The cornerstones are do your best, do the right thing and treat others with respect.  Students now being honored are Bella Trane, Taylor Jones, Ben Peters, Tommy Anderson, Quinton Curry, Piper Wood, Beth Hammond, Brad Severino, Andrew Ramer, Kyle Kopf, Maggie Baughman, Ryan Roberts, Lanny Reed, Christian O’Connor and Mia Klarec.

Phenix Wins USDA Award for Healthy School

Phenix Elementary wellness coordinator and second grade teacher Jessica George talks to students about healthy food choices during Tuesday Tasting. At the February tasting, students got to sample red, green and yellow bell peppers.

Phenix Elementary wellness coordinator and second grade teacher Jessica George talks to students about healthy food choices during Tuesday Tasting.

Phenix Elementary School has been honored with a Gold Award of Distinction through the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge, a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Iowa Department of Education officials will participate in a student assembly on Friday, May 3, to celebrate the national award received for efforts to support and improve the health of children and the community.

Phenix Elementary has worked to put in place healthy choices for meals, nutrition education, and physical education and activity.  Phenix students and staff participate in several wellness activities throughout the school year, including Pick-a-Better Snack nutrition education, Tuesday Tastings held once a month, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and Live Healthy Iowa. The school also organizes Wellness Wednesday, a time for all students and staff to participate in physical activities together.

Friday’s event marks a school celebration with the Valley High School Cheer Squad, a special appearance from Power Panther, brain breaks, and remarks from local school officials as well as Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass.

In addition to the celebration, the entire student body will go for a walk as part of Iowa Sports Foundation’s Go the Distance Day and will participate in taste testing provided by Chef Burrows from Hy-Vee.

Hutton and Undurty Chosen for ACE Mentor Program

news-vhs-ACEawardUPDATE 3/7/13 – The team claimed the top prize of $5,000 this week in the
Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT)/ACE Mentor Program National Design
Competition.  The student group traveled
to Washington, D.C., where Joseph Bahnsen of DM East High School presented their
mock design for a Modular Education Addition to a panel of judges that included
CEOs from top national design and construction firms.


Valley students Jordan Hutton and Saketh Undurty have been chosen as members of the ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa (ACE C-IA). ACE is sending a team of Des Moines-area high school students to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT)/ACE Mentor Program National Design Competition.  Their design submission of a Modular School Addition was recently selected as one of three finalists out of 43 entries from ACE affiliates nationwide.  The students will present the project at the CIRT Spring Conference on April 30 in Washington, D.C.   As a finalist, the Central Iowa team will have the opportunity to compete for the top prize of $5,000 before a panel of distinguished judges from the CIRT, including CEOs from top design/construction firms.

In the fall of 2012, ACE C-IA established a select team of veteran students who were seeking a deeper, more-focused exploration of architecture, construction, and engineering to form the Competition Team.  National Competition team members include:

  • Jordan Hutton, WDM Valley HS
  • Saketh Undurty, WDM Valley HS
  • Nicole Bramow, Ankeny HS
  • Sirina Reed, Ankeny HS
  • Joseph Bahnsen, DM East HS
  • Ross Nickey, DM Lincoln HS
  • Eric Cole, Southeast Polk HS
  • Katie Smithart, Southeast Polk HS

In addition, professional mentors from local businesses have contributed over 250 hours of volunteer time to help guide the competition team through the design process.  These mentors include:

  • Josh Ridgely, SVPA Architects
  • Mike Dean, INVISION Architecture/Planning
  • Stacie Ellickson-Hastie, Confluence
  • Jonathan Vaage, Charles Saul Engineering
  • Brant Bristow, Tometich Engineering

About ACE:  The ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa is an affiliate of the ACE Mentor Program of America.  Since 2006, over 375 Des Moines-area high school students have been introduced to the integrated construction industry.  Further, through the generous donations by local architecture, construction, and engineering firms, The ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa has awarded 40 students a total of $79,000 in scholarships to further their ACE-related education.  In addition, the ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa was recognized as an exemplary STEM Program by Governor Branstad’s STEM Advisory Council in 2012.

The ACE Mentor Program of America, established in 1995 in New York, currently has a presence in over 200 cities across the US, including affiliates in Des Moines and in Mason City, IA.  This year alone over 8,000 students and almost 5,000 mentors are participating in the program; 70% are minorities and 40% are young women.  The ACE Mentor program of America received a 2010 Presidental Award from President Obama for Excellence in Science Math and Engineering Mentoring.  For more information on the ACE Mentor Program of America visit http://www.acementor.org.