District News

DECA Students Advance to National Competition

Valley High School had 16 students qualify for the DECA Competitive Events Program at the 2014 International Career Development Conference May 3-6 in Atlanta, Ga.

First through third place finishers at the state and provincial competitions qualify to compete at the international conference. The competitions are designed to simulate real-life business scenarios and test students’ academic understanding and skills development. The DECA International Career Development Conference is the pinnacle of competition where nearly 10,000 students vie for international honors. Last year, nearly $500,000 in scholarships and awards were presented to students and teachers for their achievements.

Valley, which is in its first year sponsoring a DECA program with coach Sarah Bird, had top finishers at state competition in the following categories:

First Place

  • Grant Gustafson and Chase Koschmeder – Sports and Entertainment Team Decision Making
  • Haley Morris and Madeleine Smithey – Marketing Communications Team Decision Making
  • Mason McCoy, Chase Koschmeder and Jack Walsh – Advertising Campaign
  • Mahek Shahid, Madison Foust and Shri Mailachalam – International Business Plan
  • Sam Studer, Tiffany Heeren and Dani Duerschmidt – Sports and Entertainment Operations Research

Second Place

  • Gabe Butler-Klein – Principles of Business Management
  • Mahek Shahid – Principles of Hospitality and Tourism

Third Place

  • Baldeep Dhingra – Automotive Services Marketing
  • Tiffany Heeren – Business Services Marketing
  • Collin Coffey and Caleb Floss – Hospitality and Tourism Team Decision Making

Honorable Mention

  • Jack Walsh – Apparel and Accessories Marketing
  • Mason McCoy – Business Services Marketing
  • Daly Hardy – Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
  • Sam Studer – Retail Merchandising Services
  • Abbey Patterson and Sarah Thompson – Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. DECA enhances the preparation for college and careers by providing co-curricular programs that integrate into classroom instruction, apply learning, connect to business and promote competition.

2014-15 Calendar Approved

The WDMCS Board of Education approved the 2014-15 calendar at a special meeting Feb. 26. Highlights of the calendar are:

  • First Day of School: Aug. 20
  • Winter Break: Dec.22-Jan. 2
  • Finals week before winter break.
  • Teachers teaching DMACC classes that cannot have finals before break shall be given the flexibility to do so.
  • First Semester Ends: Jan. 13
  • Spring Break: March 16-20
  • Last Day for Students: June 2

2014-15 School Year Calendar

Valley Earns IHSSA Sweepstakes Award

The Valley drama team has been honored with the IHSSA All-State Festival’s E. Wayne Cooley Sweepstakes Award, given annually to the school with the most entries in the competition. Valley’s 20 all-state entries, coached by drama director Stacy Hansen, set not only a school record, but a state record.

Each school in the state is allowed to enter up to 23 performances into competition. Valley set a record earlier this year by having all 23 of its district entries advance to state competition.

Another school record was set as three Critic’s Choice Awards were earned at all-state competition in radio news (Cooper Christensen, Jaclyn Warden, Elizabeth Reed and Sarah Phillips, director Glen Biermann and Jake Wheeler), group improvisational acting (Hira Mustafa and Grady Stein, directed by Joe Van Haecke) and musical theatre (Sam Cohrs, Emma Stier, Brandon Devine, Nicole Miller, Abby Hudson, Kara Masteller and Allison Streck, directed by Megan Helmers and Brianne Magel).

The Critic’s Choice Award is given in each category to the group the critic feels best exemplifies that category. The critic in radio broadcasting was Jason Parkin, KCWI, TV Des Moines; improvisational acting critic was Steve Hydeen, 88improv, Council Bluffs; and musical theatre critic was Mike Peitz, IHSSA Hall of Fame, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Walnut Creek Campus junior Gabe Mason, coached by WCC teacher Ted Vandeventer, also advanced to all-state in the solo mime category.

Life in the WDMCS 2/24/14

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.

Clive Elementary

Clive Elementary first graders recently hopped on the school bus to the Des Moines Civic Center where they were treated to the musical “Spirit of Uganda.” First grader Roshan Kumar said, “It was a musical program…with lots of singing and dancing. Well, they tried to raise money for [Ugandans] that don’t go to school every day, and they tried to raise money for people in college.” Linna Vo remarked, “We stand up and dance with them.” Jacob Greene summed up the experience when he said, “I learned about their dances…and their singing. I thought it was good.”

Crestview Elementary

Crestview second graders are currently learning about concepts of balance, counterweights and stable positions through science exploration.

Crossroads Park Elementary

The new Art 101 afterschool club is open to third through sixth grade students, with 15 students so far enjoying the after school sessions at Crossroads Park Elementary. At each session, students get an opportunity to learn about new artists, explore new mediums, and best of all, make art! The students have gotten to explore techniques with paint, oil pastels, and ink, and will get to use charcoal and watercolors as well. Interested participants can find more information at the Community Education webpage at http://www.wdmcs.org/commed/ or by calling 633-5001. Illustration Inspiration is also in full swing. This club is offered to kindergarten and first grade students. The club takes time to study different illustrators and the various styles they use within their illustrations. They then create fun artwork inspired from what they studied. So far students in the club have used watercolors, tempera paint, crayons, colored pencils, created tissue paper collages and practiced the art of sketching. The sketches represented in the picture were created after we studied illustrations by Ray Cruz from “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

Fairmeadows Elementary

UPDATE – this performance has been rescheduled from Feb. 20 to March 6: Fourth graders at Fairmeadows are putting together a garage band. In their upcoming show entitled, “Making the Band,” the class is looking for percussionists, guitar players, bass guitar players, keyboard players and a lead singer. Why not come on out and see! There will be one performance at 3 p.m. for the Fairmeadows students and then another at 6:30 p.m. for family and friends.

On Monday, March 3, the 23rd Street Singers, a lively chorus of 114 fifth and sixth graders who enjoy singing and choreography, will hit the road with performances at the West Des Moines Public Library (9:30 a.m.) and Edgewater Retirement Community (10 a.m.). Then on Tuesday, March 4, the 23rd Street Singers will perform for Fairmeadows students at 3 p.m. and again for the community at 6:30 p.m. in the Fairmeadows gym. The program includes a variety of musical styles and dance choreography including “We Sing Gloria,” Katy Perry’s “Roar,” “Africa,” a ballad called “When I am Silent,” and even a Maori proverb entitled “Tama Tu.” Director Deb Augspurger would like to thank the chorus students and families for making beautiful music and making music beautiful at Fairmeadows!

Hillside Elementary

The first grade Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at Hillside Elementary have been working on Artful Learning models. Journey maps have been a school-wide focus at Hillside this school year, and the first grade PLC completed its work in addition to the SINA requirements. See more here: http://hillsidefirstgrade.wordpress.com/artful-learning-culture/

Over the past few weeks, Hillside second graders have been busy learning about the ocean. Through inquiry centers, they have explored ocean zones and ocean pollution. Second graders are currently researching an ocean animal. Students are reading ocean animal books and searching websites to find out fascinating facts about their animals. Students will organize their research using a graphic organizer and will write a nonfiction piece about their animals. Students will prepare an oral presentation and share their findings with their class. Classes will compile the final products into a class book titled, “Ocean Animals.” Students are very excited about discovering facts about their animals and are working very hard on their reports.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Francis Chan taught Jordan Creek first graders about growing up in Southern Sudan in an African family during the school’s Cultural Day. Wesley Fergus got to dress as the King of Sudan and Carli Hemmingson dressed as the Queen of Sudan. This particular session fit in nicely with the unit on Africa the first graders are presently studying.

Phenix Elementary

First graders have recently begun studying nutrition in Spanish class at Phenix Elementary. They are learning the names of the food groups and several foods. Second graders are studying the Mayans in conjunction with the Native American unit they studied with their regular classroom teacher. They have been intrigued to learn about this wonderfully interesting tribe and can tell you all about the Mayan ball game of Pok-a-tok, as well as how the Mayans counted. Third graders are studying the rainforest, which ties to the third grade social studies curriculum. They have learned about rainforest animals, including a very special tree frog, called coqui, that lives in the Puerto Rican rainforest. They have learned about the levels of the rainforest, rainforest preservation, and products that come from the rainforest…all in Spanish!

Westridge Elementary

Westridge Elementary had 23 students enter the AMC 8 Worldwide Math Contest, with final statistics released in January. Kudos to the following students for top school honors: Carsen Codel and Brogan Kirkpatrick (gold); Justin Toth and Michael Thomsen (silver); and Zachary Schmalz, Eli Jaskolka and Bevan Fogdall (bronze). The team of sixth graders Codel and Kirkpatrick along with fifth grader Toth, placed seventh in the state out of 18 older middle school teams. Codel and Kirkpatrick were awarded special merit certificates for scoring exceptionally high worldwide against older students. All of Westridge’s gold, silver and bronze winners, along with classmates Mari Wharff and Andrew Simpson, outscored the worldwide average for their grade levels. School winner Codel placed in the top 9% of the world of all age-groups. This is the fifth year Westridge has participated in the contest under the coaching of parent Tracy Codel.

Valley High School

xperience new cultures, foods and support a good cause! Come to One World, One Heart International Night on Friday, February 28 from 5-8:30 p.m. in the Valley cafeteria. Tickets are $3 each or two for $5, so bring a friend. There will be cultural exhibits, ethnic food vendors, cultural performance show and fashion show. All proceeds go to the Helping Hands Fund to provide relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The Central Iowa High School College Fair will be held at Valley High School Monday, March 3 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Student Commons. Approximately 90 colleges and universities will be in attendance. All students are encouraged to attend, as well as parents. Students are required to register prior to the event at: www.gotocollegefairs.com. For more information, contact Karla Hardy (633-4128, hardyk@wdmcs.org) or Polly Maly (633-4210, malyps@wdmcs.org) in the Counseling Center.

Second Calendar Hearing Monday; Aug. 13 Start Date

MicrophoneWPeopleThe West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will hold a public hearing on a revised proposal for the 2014-15 school year calendar on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, during its regular meeting. This is the second public hearing to be held on the 2014-15 calendar.

A change is being proposed due to feedback gathered, including comments presented by the public at the previous hearing held Feb. 10.

The February 24 hearing will be the time when interested individuals can express their views, both orally and in writing, on the proposed 2014-15 school year calendar, which is based on instructional hours instead of days and sets an early start date of August 13, 2014. Features of the revised calendar include:

  • First Day of School: Wednesday, Aug. 13
  • End of Semester 1: Friday, Dec. 19
  • Winter Break: Dec. 22 – Jan. 2 (Jan. 1 for teachers)
  • Spring Break: March 16-20
  • Last Student Day: Friday, May 22

A full month at-a-glance calendar will be posted on Friday, Feb. 21 here Hearing Information (Page 120).

Event: West Des Moines Community Schools Public Hearing
Date: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Community Room, Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines

Hearing Information (Page 120)

Life in the WDMCS 2/17/14

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.

Clive Elementary

The Clive Elementary first graders attended “Spirit of Uganda “at the Des Moines Civic Center. The performers were ages 8-18 and were ambassadors of Uganda’s orphans. They sang and danced to traditional native songs and played drums and a xylophone that was played by six people at one time because of its size. This group has been touring in the United States since December. Students had the opportunity to dance to the African music during the performance and ask the performers questions at the end.

Sixth graders at Clive completed their job interviews for JA Biztown, and they have all been placed in their jobs. They are spending this week preparing for their new job which they will do when they go on their field trip later this week.

Crestview Elementary

Sixty singers participated in the Crestview Tiger Choir Valentine’s Day rehearsal and party on February 14 in the Crestview music room. Due to several cancelled rehearsals in January, singers made up for lost time, working on the songs and choreography for their spring show entitled “Seize the Day!” The concert will be held on Tuesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Crestview gym and will feature songs from famous musicals about orphans. Selections will be included from the musicals “Annie,” “Newsies” and “Oliver.”

Fairmeadows Elementary

Fourth graders at Fairmeadows are putting together a garage band. In theirupcoming show entitled, “Making the Band,” the class is looking for percussionists, guitar players, bass guitar players, keyboard players and a lead singer. Why not come on out and see! The show is scheduled for Thursday, February 20 in the Fairmeadows gym. There will be one performance at 3 p.m. for the Fairmeadows students and then another at 6:30 p.m. for family and friends.

Hillside Elementary

Kindergartners at Hillside are exploring their second Artful Learning Unit of the year. They spent some time in late January exploring the concept of communication and getting to know the work of our featured artist, Norman Rockwell. Students are now in the inquiry stage, investigating the many ways we communicate with one another. Artful Learning allows students to learn many of the Common Core State Standards under the umbrella of a unifying concept. The focus statement for this unit explains: “We use communication to share with and learn from the world around us. We communicate to express what we know and feel, and to understand the knowledge and feelings of others. All living things communicate through many forms. Kindergartners come to school able to communicate verbally and nonverbally. Improving verbal skills and awareness of nonverbal cues is critical to educational development. The first year of formal education provides opportunities for children to communicate through writing and to read the writing of others. Improving skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening is essential and at the core of kindergarten learning.” Hillside kindergartners will conclude their inquiry with an original news report from a Norman Rockwell scene, using verbal, nonverbal and written communication to tell their stories.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Music students at Jordan Creek have been busy singing and playing instruments. First graders have been playing xylophones while singing about winter. They played notes of the pentatonic scale, improvising and saying what they liked to do in the winter. Each student had a turn. Then a group of students played chords while the whole class sang the verse of the song. Jordan Creek third graders have been working on a piece of music that incorporates movement and instrument playing. They are playing a chord bordun on the bass and alto xylophones, with wood block and glockenspiel accompaniments. The classes are divided into small groups that create actions and movements to a special poem. They put it all together making it into a RONDO form. For the finale, they will be presenting it to their kindergarten friends. Kindergartners have been singing fun Valentine’s Day songs. Fourth graders have been singing African American spirituals. They have been learning how to sing and clap various rhythm patterns with eighth notes and sixteenth notes. Second graders have been singing solos about winter and have enjoyed the Chicken Soup with Rice song by Maurice Sendak and Carole King.

Thank you Jordan Creek for your generosity in supporting our J.C. Kids Care Club Heart Connection Collection this past week as the February service project. The donations of shampoo, soap or body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, chapstick, deodorant, toilet paper, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer and facial tissues were greatly appreciated. The school collected a total of 792 items that will be donated to the WDMCS Heart Connection Collection.

Phenix Elementary

After school on Tuesdays students have the opportunity to be a part of the Lego Club. Students from different schools signed up meet at Phenix Early Childhood center to work on problem solving, comprehension and retelling, and social skills, all through the exploration of Legos. Ronna McGrann, the facilitator, reads the group a story. They work together to retell the story and find the big ideas. After brainstorming something they could build from the story, the creations start to take shape. At the end, each student shares their product, and how they built it. The figures are put on display in the case each week.

Westridge Elementary

Westridge Elementary is participating in a jump rope unit in physical education class during the month of February. During this unit, the students may raise funds for the American Heart Association and participate in Jump Rope for Heart. Jump Rope for Heart is a fun effective way to teach heart-healthy living. The money raised will be due February 21. Since students are jumping in class, we are only accepting flat donations and not worrying about pledge per minute. Online donations are encouraged this year by visiting www.americanheart.org/jump.

Stilwell Junior High

Students from Stilwell’s HyperStream club with their mentors from FBL Financial showcased their projects and interest in technology at the STEM Day at the Capitol on February 13. STEM Day at the Capitol has become an annual tradition as a means for communicating to Iowa’s lawmakers and the general public the many impactful ways that the excitement and opportunity of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are being brought to youth. Governor Branstad and Governor’s STEM Advisory Council co-chair Lt. Gov. Reynolds along with Council member Senator Schoenjahn reinforced their commitment to STEM education by speaking at this event.

Valley High School

Rae Gernant won a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her poem, “The Crystaline Palace.” Gernant’s entry was selected from 250 writing entries from grades 7-12 from the Iowa Region.

Hannah-Kate Fox will be representing Valley High School at the state Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. She will be performing three poems at the competition held at the Historical Building on March 5 at 1 p.m.

Valley debaters attended the National Qualifying Tournament at DM Lincoln High School, with six advancing to the Grand Nationals. They were junior Gina Scorpiniti in Lincoln-Douglas , freshman Trent Gilbert in Lincoln-Douglas, the team of juniors Brody Diehn and Rishi Shah in policy debate, and the team of juniors Alexis Takla and Tanner Barkley in public forum.Valley qualified more students than any other school in the West Iowa district and won the Team Sweepstakes award.

Budget News: Parent Forums & Phenix

Budget_2Over the past several months, the WDMCS district has been sharing information about the need for the district to reduced $3 million from its budget this year and again next year.

In January, the district gathered more than 150 total cost-saving suggestions submitted by staff, teachers, parents, community members, building principals, district administrators, the employee unions and School Board members. The list of options were shared last week during a public School Board meeting and through an email to all district parents. The list of options is available here  Budget Reduction Options (page 12).

On the list of suggestions is closing Phenix Early Childhood Center next year. It is estimated that this would save the district $1,126,646.

Please be aware of the opportunities available for you to provide your input on this option:

You may:

  1. Attend one of the Parent Forums. The two remaining meetings are Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 21 from 12-1:30 p.m. Both will be held at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines. These meetings are being held specifically to provide information about the district’s budget and the reduction options and to gather feedback.
  2. Fill out the online feedback form available here through Monday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. (CST) Budget Reduction Option Feedback Form.
  3. Email WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy at remyl@wdmcs.org.
  4. Attend the Monday, Feb. 24 School Board meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

For more information, please visit http://www.wdmcs.org/2014/02/budget/.

Budget News: Staff Meetings Set

The West Des Moines Community Schools is providing its employees the opportunity to provide feedback on the list of budget reduction options.


Online Form

An online form is now available!

  • Click on the link to access the form>> http://ow.ly/tvjut
  • The form will be open until Monday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. (CST).

Please feel free to use this form to submit answers to the questions, “If the district chooses this option, what could go wrong?” and “What can we do to prevent or adapt to the perceived risk?”


Staff Meetings Scheduled

There will also be several meetings for staff members for to gather feedback on proposed budget-reduction options.


The staff meetings will be approximately one hour long and are scheduled for:


Certified & School Building Staff

  • Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in the VHS Forum
  • Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 4:45 p.m. in the VHS Forum
  • Friday, Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. in the LRC Community Room
  • Friday, Feb. 21 at 12:00 p.m. in the LRC Community Room
  • Friday Feb. 21 at 3:30 p.m. in the LRC Community Room


Operations/Learning Resource Center Staff

  • Feb. 18 at 2:00 p.m. in the LRC Community Room
  • Feb. 18 at 3:30 p.m. in the LRC Community Room


Transportation Staff

  • Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m. in the Operations Break Room


If you were unable to make a voluntary meeting scheduled for your group, please check with your supervisor about attending another scheduled meeting.

Budget News: Parent Forums Scheduled – Be Informed, Share Feedback

Nine Valley Students Named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

All nine of the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from Valley High School were upgraded to National Merit Scholarship Finalists this week. Seniors Chloe Goodman, Grant Gustafson, Catherine Leafstedt, Ashwin Madhan, Alicia Meng, Neeve Sivagurunathan, Jason Smith, Corrine Smolen and Jeffrey Swegle will be notified in June if they have been selected as a National Merit Scholar.

These students will be among 15,000 nationwide in competition to become a National Merit Scholar, earning a $2,500 scholarship. National Merit Scholars are chosen based on abilities, skills and accomplishments. Academic records, school curriculum, test scores, an administrative recommendation, information about activities and leadership as well as an essay are used in the judging process.