District News

Life in the WDMCS 4/28/14

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 was represented by 11 FLES students at the district’s annual Spanish Quiz Bowl for non-native Spanish speaking students. Four students were selected from fourth, fifth and sixth grades based on Spanish language achievement, citizenship and participation in class. Students competed in teams, playing Spanish vocabulary games. Clive students participating were: fourth graders Mary Hanson, Noah Goeders, Whitney Nanyonjo, Daniel Simpson; fifth graders Kail Hassoun, Lauren Huffman, Liana Sampson and Keaton Kelly; and sixth graders Hisham Nasereddin, Grace Feeken, Jake Reck and Emma Brown. Miguel Gallegos also participated as a table leader.

Kindergarten students at Clive Elementary are learning all about plants. The kindergartners began their Seed to Plant science unit and have been able to open up seeds to study the inside of a seed, as well as plant sunflower seeds. Over the next few weeks, students will keep a plant journal and record their plant observations. Kindergartners will also learn about how stems help a plant, the role of leaves and roots, and how to take care of plants.

Crestview Elementary

Fourth graders stay in touch with their friends Matteo and Tommaso Calviello who attended Crestview until last year when their family moved back to Europe. Skyping through the year at home and school have bridged their ability to stay in touch. The boys enjoyed lunch together in the library and ESL classroom this week as they are here for a visit.

Families and students may shop the Crestview Book Fair starting after school May 2 and on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m.- noon. Free bagels and cookies will be served Saturday courtesy of Bruegger’s and HyVee! The book fair will continue before and after school May 5-9.

Come visit the Crestview library this summer! The library will be open on Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. throughout the summer starting June 10. This year’s theme is music: Rockin’ in My Summer Shoes!

Crossroads Park Elementary

Crossroads Park Elementary students recently enjoyed a special visit from children’s book author Coach Sloth. With his unique background as an Iowa State and Iowa Barnstormers football player, Coach Sloth offers a different look into the world of writing children’s books. His presentation included anecdotes from his experiences playing football as well as how he got started writing children’s books when he was in high school. His books about the adventures of Sammy Sloth encourage positive character traits like patience, self-acceptance, and persistence.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Each spring, fifth graders at Fairmeadows have the opportunity to complete a community service project by sharing their time and talents to help make a difference in the world.  The students have chosen many creative ways to help others in our community and surrounding communities. In addition, several students have chosen to help Fairmeadows teachers by making boxes and labeling furniture in preparation for our school’s upcoming remodel. The fifth graders are making a difference in our world, and are certainly making a difference in the lives of their teachers at Fairmeadows!

In observance of National Poetry Month, Fairmeadows fifth graders have been writing poetry. They have learned that poetry can be written about any topic from seasons to sports and inanimate objects to nature. The students worked through the writing process to draft, revise, edit and publish their poems. The fifth graders celebrated their success with poetry by reciting their poetry for others on Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Students at Fairmeadows have been learning about ways to show kindness to others. On May Day, the Fairmeadows students will be participating in an all-school wellness and character counts walk to share kindness seeds with our Fairmeadows neighbors. The flower seeds are fun to deliver, and the students have a wonderful time surprising our neighbors with a May Day act of kindness.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek third grade classes had a fun field trip downtown to the Iowa Hall of Pride. This activity ties in with a Notable Iowan’s Unit. During classroom lessons, students were given a list of famous Iowans to research. They picked who they wanted to know more about, researched them and presented the information to the class. During the Hall of Pride trip, students were able to share some of the famous Iowans that they were familiar with then they got to go explore different exhibits throughout the Iowa Hall of Pride. All exhibits are interactive and engaging. They challenge the students physically and mentally.

Jordan Creek students did very well at the district’s annual Spanish Quiz Bowl. Fourth grade Gwen Campbell won three out of four games, fifth grader Lauren Graff won three games and tied on a fourth and sixth grader Wyatt Eiler won three of four games. Other participants were fourth graders Thomas Knudsen, Noah Pins and Elliott Sanders; fifth graders Sarah Norwood, Alexa Cheguer and Sam Harper; and sixth graders Arun Ganga, Elizabeth Knudsen and Jadann Gilbert.

Valley High School

Congratulations to the Valley Symphony Band, Concert Band, and Southwoods band who all gave outstanding performances at the Adventureland/Drake University Festival of Bands.  Special recognition was given to the Symphony Band, which in addition to receiving a Division I rating, was awarded the Don Marcouiller Best of Class Trophy.  Congrats to all of our outstanding musicians.

VSW’s Lara to Compete in National ACT-SO Competition

VSW-lara-artworkValley Southwoods freshman Antonio Lara will have his artwork appear in the National ACT-SO competition, representing the ACT-SO Des Moines Branch in the drawing category for visual arts. The 2014 “Olympics of the Mind” National Competition will be held July 17-21 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Drawings must receive a score of 95 points or better to advance to nationals. Lara submitted three drawings to the Des Moines competition and all three scored better than 95. Only one piece per artists can advance, so Lara’s work that received the highest score will move on in the competition.

Lara was honored at the West Des Moines Rotary meeting in April for his achievement.

ACT-SO includes 26 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, business, and performing and visual arts.

Students Give Back on Earth Day

Students around the district spent Earth Day beautifying their own little spot in the world.

Crestview Elementary fifth graders celebrated Earth Day by beautifying their school grounds. Students raked leaves, picked up garbage and, with the help of a special guest, planted a tree. Wright Outdoor Solutions donated a sugar maple tree to the school and Dave Leighton, an employee at the company, also helped Crestview students plant the tree. He explained it needed five gallons of water twice a week for the next few weeks in order to survive. The class plans to bring in milk jugs to be able to send students out to water the tree each week.

At Clive and Westridge, students sang Earth Day songs and discussed ways to reduce, recycle and reuse. Clive sixth graders enjoyed cleaning up the school grounds, filling five trash bags with debris. Some Westridge students even went outside to hug a tree!

Walnut Creek Campus participated in an all-school Day of Service. Staff and students spent the day in conjunction with the City of Clive cleaning up green spaces and planting trees in celebration of both Earth and Arbor Day. Students and staff worked at four different sites along the Clive greenbelt that included 86th Street at Park Trail, ff of Maddox Parkway, near the Clive Aquatic Center (by the walking bridge)and Campbell Park.


Life in the WDMCS 4/21/14

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.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Fairmeadows sixth graders have been learning about various economic concepts throughout the JA BizTown unit.  Students have been running practice businesses, in order to prepare themselves for their field trip.  The sixth graders learned concepts such as supply and demand, goods and services, and other various elements of business when they managed a simulated city. JA BizTown, part of the social studies curriculum, is part of the Junior Achievement program.

Hillside Elementary

Hillside’s Student Council has had a busy year.  The group’s motto is “We are here to serve you, our community and our world.” The theme this year was UNITY, with two arts based activities to show off unity at Hillside.  In the fall, there was a birthday party for Hillside to celebrate 10 years as a school.  Next, Student Council raised money for the Red Cross and the people of the Philippines. They held a can drive for the Food Pantry and a book drive for Festival of Trees. During the winter, students enjoyed decorating doors with various technology and movie themes.  To also help everyone through the winter, they had a Go for the Gold Olympics Reading.  Attendance Bucks contest continued this year to celebrate days when classrooms have everyone in class. When the class has 25 days, they get $25 to spend as they like. This spring, Student Council is planing the Whole School Bingo around the Unity Theme. Prizes include ways for classrooms to clean up the playground and the school’s neighborhood.  With Buddy Classrooms, students are celebrating Earth Day around the theme The Lorax. And so another year of Student Council comes to an end.  We look back and celebrate that we have been good stewards of our motto.

Second grade students at Hillside Elementary have started their final Artful Learning Unit on Adaptation.  Over the next few weeks, students will determine how the environment influences the way of life.  Students will be able to develop a deeper meaning of this concept by learning about how different plants and animals adapt to survive in their habitat, how Native Americans adapted their lives to survive in different climates, as well as how architects adapt their structures to meet the functional needs of a building.   Students will also learn about different adaptations of the classical story, Cinderella. To help students attain an understanding of the concept of adaptation, students partook in a Purposeful Walk, an Arts Based Skill.  Students were asked to adapt their movements to changing situations such as wading through sinking mug, walking through a thick forest, trudging over snakes, and strolling on a hot sidewalk.  Afterwards, students reflected on how their bodies adapted to what their minds were “pretending”.  The students were then able to make connections with how adaptation affects their own lives.  Students were very excited to apply their new learning in other adaptation investigations.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Fourth grade students at Jordan Creek Elementary participated in a Russia Day Celebration as part of their study of Russia. Students completed activities centered around Russian history, economics, culture, the arts, geography, animals and literature. As part of their study of literature students performed a series of plays based on the Russian fairy tale character, Baba Yaga.

Phenix Elementary

This year the West Des Moines Community Schools will be holding its 31st annual Math Quiz Bowl.  The competition gathers third through sixth graders from the elementary schools across the district and challenges them through a math test based on their grade level.  Only the top performing students from each grade are selected.  Phenix is proud to announce that Aisha Abdirahman, Jorie Mikels and Paige Bernard will be representing our 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!

Westridge Elementary

Should nine-year-olds be able to vote?  Should third graders have cell phones?  Should third graders read “Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog?”   Third graders might just convince you that the answer is YES!  Currently, Westridge third graders are studying persuasive essays, learning that writers give reasons and details to support their opinions.  They have also learned that writers organize their writing in paragraphs and they use signal words. Students will publish their essays using Microsoft Office Word.  Pieces will be collected in a class book and shared.  We look forward to hearing other people’s opinions.

Indian Hills Junior High

Indian Hills students in the English Language Learners program received bikes and helmets from the West Des Moines Rotary Club.  The initiative was organized in a large part by Abdiel Quiroga, the new school liaison. Paula Bilo-Dickman, Mary Guzman and Natalie French helped find students, send home permission slips and communicate with the Rotary Club.  The Valley West Drive Target donated a gift card to purchase bike locks and Principal Shane Christensen donated money from the Indian Hills fundraising account to purchase the remaining locks.  Janna Day from Blank Children’s Hospital taught the students bike safety, including the importance of wearing a helmet, the proper way to fit a helmet and bike hand signals.

Valley Southwoods

Valley Southwoods freshmen TJ Foley, Arjun Ganga and Brian Gu along with social studies teacher Luanne Baker, were selected to attend he World Food Prize Foundation annual Iowa Youth Institute held on the campus of Iowa State University.  In order to participate, a student must research, write and submit a paper investigating a specific issue and population challenged by food insecurity of some kind.  More than 230 students from across the state of Iowa gathered for the centennial year of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birth, the founder of the World Food Prize Foundation.  Students were required to share their insights during roundtable discussion groups led by experts from both the business and academic arenas.  After lunch with these experts and both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, students then spent time in immersion sessions of their choice where they worked through specific issues with teachers from Iowa State University.  The purpose of the Youth Institute is to inspire and help develop the next generation of leaders who will strive to make our world a better place for all of its citizens. For more information, consult the Foundation’s website at:  www.worldfoodprize.org.

Valley High School

The Valley Mock Trial team finished in the top five in the state for the second consecutive year at the Iowa High School Mock Trial State Tournament. Mock Trial coach Scott Brennan noted that “this is a remarkable accomplishment for a bunch of students who participate in many activities in addition to Mock Trial.” Team members are Thomas Leafstedt, Brooke Beatty, Madison Tuttle, Alexandra Brennan, Rae Gernant, Catherine Leafstedt, Kyra Cooper, Mason. Congrats!

Six Valley High School students were recently selected to exhibit their photography at the CIML State Art Show in Marshalltown. The students’ work was entered in the Digital Photography – Unaltered and Digital Photography – Altered categories. Koral Glenn, Hira Mustafa and Carter White each received honorable mention honors. The students were sponsored by Tory DeVries, who teaches both photography and multimedia at Valley.

Life in the WDMCS 4/14/14

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

Preschoolers are always curious about how to use blocks and other materials to build towers, houses and other types of buildings. They ask many questions about how to make doors, windows, etc. Because of high student interest in the blocks center, Tiger Cubs preschoolers at Clive Elementary have begun a unit of study on building and construction. During this study students have taken walks outside to explore the different buildings in the school neighbor. They have compared and contrasted buildings by height, color, materials, etc. This has also sparked students interest in machinery and tools needed to build. We have read many books about our favorite building machinery: excavators and dump trucks. The students have learned to use many tools such as tape measures and levels while playing with them in the classroom. This study has taught students how to investigate, solve problems, measure and so much more.

The Northside Band performed for Clive Elementary students and staff recently.  The Northside Band is made up of 97 6th grade students from Clive, Crestview, Crossroads Park and Westridge. The students rehearse before school twice per week. As a beginning band, the Northside Band focuses on fundamentals of musicianship such as tone, articulation, fine motor skills and reading skills.  Working toward the mastery of these fundamentals allows the students to play many types of music including, but not limited to, marches, ballads, jazz and popular music. This performance allowed students to showcase their solo pieces as well as prepare for solo competitions.

Crestview Elementary

Crestview Elementary had 18 fifth graders participate in a grade-level Math Bowl with Cael Elmore being crowned class champ.  Students were given problem solving questions and had to solve them accurately on a white board.  If students missed two questions, they were eliminated.  The process continued until a fifth grade Math Bowl champion was crowned.  Students had a lot of fun and loved the competition.  The top six students will represent Crestview at the district Math Bowl in May – Cael Elmore, Caleb Corbin, Alex Drotzmann, Eliza Sheffield, Sara Feiz, and Drew Peterson.

More than 60 families attended this year’s Food, Fun, Family Night at Crestview Elementary. After a tasty meal of walking taco’s, families enjoyed challenging and fun math games in the preschool, kindergarten and first grade rooms along with fraction games in the gym. Capping off the evening, families followed a recipe involving fractions to compile a snack.  Each child also received a free book.  The evening was sponsored by the WDMCS Title 1 program.

Jordan Creek Elementary

The second grade students at Jordan Creek are learning about plants.  They are learning about the life cycle, plant parts and the importance of plants.  The students enjoy collecting data, measuring the growth of their plants, and will eventually harvest new seeds at the end of this unit.

Western Hills Elementary

The Western Hills PTA/Fine Arts Committee has been awarded the inaugural Creativity Champion AWE (Art Within Everything) Award by the Metro Arts Alliance Board of Directors. The award was presented during the A Taste of Spring celebration at the John Deere Financial Worldwide Headquarters.

Valley High School

The jazz combo made up of Nick Behrends, Zane Gedler, Stephanie Hansen, Taylor Igram, Lauren Johnson and Joe Peterson took top honors at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival combo division.

Valley’s varsity jazz choir, Vocalese, took home first place honors for the second year in a row at the Iowa Vocal Jazz Championships, also known as Best of Iowa.  Valley’s prep jazz choir, Vocal Point, placed fifth.   Iowa All-State Jazz Choir auditions were held the same day and the following Valley students were selected to perform in this prestigious 20-person vocal jazz choir:  Jared Freiburg, Abby Hudson, Lauren Pfeil and Caroline Stump.  Nicole Miller and Linda Tong were chosen as first alternates. Stephanie Hansen was chosen for the All-State Jazz Choir for the third consecutive year and was chosen as the competition’s Best Female Vocalist.   Vocalese also placed first at the Emmetsburg Jazz Competition, and Vocal Point placed fourth.   Vocalese is directed by Haley Gibbons and Vocal Point is directed by Ryan Deignan.   Pianist Julian Castillo, bassist Lauren Johnson and drummer Zane Gedler accompany both choirs and Brandon Devine and Melanie Taylor are the sound technicians.

The VHS Orchestra earned a Gold rating and the Adjudicator’s award at the Heritage Festival in Chicago. The orchestra has received an invitation to participate in a future Festival of Gold competition.  In addition, Bailey Cook was named Queen of Love and Beauty at Medieval Times.  Congratulations to the Orchestra and to Bailey!

Team BETA, Valley’s FTC robotics team, will have the opportunity to defend its World Championship title after advancing in the FTC North Super Regional. Only the top 7 percent of teams in the nation were invited to advance from a state championship to compete in a Super Regional Championship. FTC teams in the North Region advanced from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia. BETA was recognized with the Judges Commendation. The World Championships will be held April 24-26 in St. Louis, Mo., hosting the top 128 teams from around the globe.

Valley Jazz Orchestra Wins Iowa Jazz Championship

The Valley Jazz Orchestra won the 2014 Class 4A Iowa Jazz Championship during the 15-band competition at the Des Moines Civic Center. Four Outstanding Performer Awards are given in each class, with Valley earning two – senior Saketh Undurty (West Des Moines) on trumpet and sophomore Taylor Igram (Clive) on alto saxophone.

Bands are evaluated using a 100 point scale, earning up to 30 points for the wind section (saxophones, trumpets, trombones), 30 points for the rhythm section (bass, drums, piano, vibraphone, auxiliary percussion), 30 points for improvisation and 10 points for overall effect and music selection.

The Valley Jazz Orchestra, directed by Greg Simmons and Dave Kobberdahl, has a proud tradition of participation in Iowa Jazz Championships. In the past, Valley Jazz Orchestra has participated in many festivals including Jazz at the Meadows, the prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition and the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. This past weekend, the entire Valley jazz program participated in the Eau Claire Jazz Festival and members of this ensemble earned a first place finish in the combo division.

The Valley Jazz Orchestra will be performing at the upcoming West Des Moines Jazz Festival on April 24 in the VHS cafeteria and at the Spring Fling Wing Ding on May 9.

Jazz Orchestra members are Sam Anderson, Nick Behrends, Joe Brennan, Julian Castillo, Joe Erickson, Zane Gedler, Sean Graves, Stephanie Hansen, Taylor Igram, Lauren Johnson, Matt Johnson, Todd Johnson, Andrew Novitskiy, Jared Paine, Derek Pham, Joe Petersen, Parker Reed, Abi Roach, Orlando Sanchez, Will Swanson and Saketh Undurty.

Valley Orchestra Directors Receive National Recognition

senger-micheleValley orchestra directors Michele Senger and Phil Peters have been selected as NEH Summer Scholars from a national applicant pool to attend one of 22 seminars and institutes supported by the National Endowment for t

he Humanities. The Endowment is a federal agency that, each summer, supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions so that teachers can study with experts in humanities disciplines.

Senger and Peters will participate in an interdisciplinary Institute entitled “Mozart’s Worlds: The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.”  The three-week

program will be held in Vienna, Austria, and directed by Dr. Richard Benedum, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton.


The 25 teachers selected to participate in the program each receive a stipend of  $2,700 to cover their travel, study, and

living expenses.

Topics for the 22 seminars and institutes offered for teachers this summer include the Acadian experience in Maine; archaeology in the Upper Mississippi River Valley; Berlin’s cultural diversity across two centuries; the trail of tears: a view from the Cherokee homeland;

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; communism and American life; Dickens in literature and film;

Existentialism; the immigrant experience in California through literature and theatre; Johann Sebastian Bach; World Wars I and II in France today; Mesoamerican cultures and histories; the national anthem in American life; philosophers of education; the political theory of Hannah Arendt; punishment, politics, and culture; race and politics in the American Civil War; religious worlds of New York; teaching Shakespeare; theatricality and reality in modern French drama; understanding Muslim cultures through poetry.

The approximately 460 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach almost 57,500 American students the following year.


Indian Hills Drama Students Give Back

Indian Hills drama director Angela Youngers and members of the cast of the recent Indian Hills play “John Lennon and Me,” Liz Napier, Katie Derouin, Preston Hayes and Lauren Johnson, present $500 to Blank Children’s Hospital Director of Development Alissa McKinney.

Indian Hills drama director Angela Youngers and members of the cast of the recent Indian Hills play “John Lennon and Me,” Liz Napier, Katie Derouin, Preston Hayes and Lauren Johnson, present $500 to Blank Children’s Hospital Director of Development Alissa McKinney.

The Indian Hills drama department recently presented the school play “John Lennon and Me,” which was set in a children’s hospital. To give the students more accurate and authentic information, drama director Anglea Youngers brought in a Child’s Life Specialist from Blank Children’s Hospital to talk to the students. They also donated some props for use in the play.

As a thank you for the kindness of Blank Children’s Hospital, Youngers and the cast put together a silent auction to raise funds for both the drama department and Blank. From the proceeds, the cast was able to donate $500 to Blank Children’s Hospital.

“This money will go to help fund the Child Life department,” said Blank’s Director of Development Alissa McKinney. “It’s really important we get dollars for this program because it makes a huge difference for our patients and families.”

Students, Staff Recognized for Outstanding Achievements

The Board of Education of the West Des Moines Community School District is pleased to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of district students and staff.



Fairmeadows Elementary fifth grader Elaine Greer won second place for her grade division in the state-wide 2014 MLK Essay Contest. She received a $25 prize and was honored at the State of Iowa Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

Several WDMCS students were among the 470 students from Iowa and throughout the nation who were recently invited to be honored at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony. Additionally, recognized students were given the opportunity to honor a teacher they credited for having a profound influence on their lives. Students honored were: Explore Test – Carsen Codel, David Gaunt, Savannah Hunt, Kyle Juist, Dorothy Junginger, Nora King, Cynthia Quito, Alana Scherer, Darrell Smith, Ryan Staub and Radha Velamuri; ACT – Cayden Codel, Gabriel Mintzer and Samuel Throm; Blank Summer Institute – Elizabeth Ash and Marcus Chew. Teachers the students chose to honor were Ann Ellinger, Westridge; Deb Flagg, Jordan Creek; Nancy Foley, Westridge; Holly Gilmore, Hillside; Betsy Hrdlicka, Western Hills; LuAnn Link, Stilwell; Tami Loge, Valley; Tim Miller, Stilwell; Felicia Twit, Western Hills; and Aaron Witt, Jordan Creek.

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.

The WDMCS is among five Iowa districts to be named to the College Board’s 4th Annual Honor Roll Districts. The AP Honor Roll recognizes and honors those outstanding school districts that simultaneously increase access to Advanced Placement® course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

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. 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.

Valley’s 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.

Valley’s 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.

The Valley First Tech Challenge team, Beta, finished in second place for the Inspire Award and also earned the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award at the RTC State Championships. The Inspire Award is given to the team that is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field. The Innovate Award celebrates a team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. Beta won five of six qualifying matches and finished competing in the first round of division semi-finals that pitted the top 48 teams from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The 2013 Valley Tiger Tales Yearbook was recognized for excellence and featured in the Herff Jones IDEAS THAT FLY showcase book. There were only two schools from Iowa selected for this honor. The Valley yearbook has been selected for inclusion four years in a row. The Editor in Chief is Katelyn Brower and  Diane Hicks is adviser.

Eleven students were recently inducted in to the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists.The students have all shown initiative and produced superior work in writing, editing or photography for the student newspaper or yearbook and are in the top third of their class academically.  New inductees include Sarah Bell, Camryn Dreyer, Connor Ferguson, Annie Fredericksen, Katie Galles, Allison Kacer, Emily Kacer, Taylor Mankle, Cole Schulte, Cooper Warner and Claudia Athens. Officers Ashley Skokan, Madison Ward and Jenna Baldus presided with adviser Diane Hicks.  Valley High School has had a Quill and Scroll chapter since 1940.

The Valley Mock Trial senior team advanced to the state competition. Congratulations to team members Brooke Beatty, Alexandra Brennan, Kyra Cooper, Rae Gernent, Catherine Leafstedt, Thomas Leafstedt, Mason McCoy and Madison Tuttle.


Grant Gustafson and Catherine Leafstedt of Valley High School were among the top students in the country selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, which drew 1,500 people from more than 65 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues.

The Western Hills Kids Care Club, a volunteer club of over 120 kindergarten through sixth graders, was chosen to be a GenerationOn Joy Ambassador.  This honor is given to 100 organizations and individuals (two from each state) each year by GenerationOn and Hasbro.  The Western Hills Kids Care Club was selected based off of “the amazing things they have been doing to make a mark on the world through volunteer action.”  As Joy Ambassadors, the club was given 100 brand new toys from Hasbro and a $100 gift card to use towards a special holiday service project.

The Rotary Club of West Des Moines honored Walnut Creek Campus students Kirk Phillips and Sarah Beck as Outstanding Students of the Month for November for providing leadership, making a difference and going above and beyond in their school.

Valley’s Tej Akavaram and Isabelle Pierotti-May were recognized as Youth of the Year by the Chinese Association of Iowa. Both of them have been in the VHS Chinese Lion and Dragon team for the past three years and participated in community performances and Mid-West Competition, where the team won second prize. They are currently in Chinese III and Tej has won the study abroad scholarship in 2013 summer to spend six weeks intensive study over China. Youth of the Year recognizes the young people who serve and make a difference in our community and they will be honored for their selfless acts and character development.


Junior high debaters attended the Davenport West tournament. Seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis of Stilwell was the tournament champion in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate, while sixth-grader Animesh Joshi of Jordan Creek Elementary was the runner-up in LD. Both debaters were undefeated in the tournament.

Valley attended the Millard West High School tournament in Omaha, Neb. The team as a whole placed second in the Team Sweepstakes. Individual accomplishments were topped off by ninth-graders Alex Carther and Meta Miller winning the novice policy debate division without dropping a ballot.

The team of senior Carolyn Hoemann and junior Grady Stein were octofinalists (top 16) at the Dowling Catholic Invitational, which earned them their first bid to the national debate Tournament of Champions (TOC), which is held each spring at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Teams need two bids to be fully qualified. In Lincoln-Douglas debate, senior Jason Smith placed second in varsity LD, earning his fourth TOC bid. Junior Gina Scorpiniti was a quarterfinalist, while freshman Trent Gilbert was an octofinalist. This is the best performance by a Valley freshman at Dowling in the past 10 years.

Valley junior Sam Basler and Nolan Dahm won the varsity policy debate at the Iowa City City High debate tournament. In public forum, the team of seniors Mackenzie Copley and Ashton Woiwood placed second. The teams of senior Carolyn Hoemann and sophomore Manuel Smith, as well as juniors Lexy Takla and Grady Stein, were quarterfinalists. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas, the final round was closed out by co-champions, freshmen Trent Gilbert and TJ Foley. Third place was taken by Stilwell seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis, and fourth place was freshman Evan McKinney. In novice LD, freshman Siena Cabbage placed second, while Jordan Creek sixth grader Animesh Joshi was a semifinalist. In novice policy, the team of freshmen Nora Raine and Katy Green placed second.

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.

For the sixth consecutive year, Valley debate has won the state championship in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Valley senior Jason Smith closed out the final round with junior Gina Scorpiniti, and the two were declared co-champions. The team of juniors Nolan Dahm and Sam Basler were semifinalists in policy debate. Valley also won the team sweepstakes award in Lincoln-Douglas debate and placed second in the overall sweepstakes. Other elimination round participants included Rishi Shah, Brody Diehn, Trent Gilbert, TJ Foley, Evan McKinney, Jackie Chu, Conal Thomas-McGinnis, Manuel Smith, Lexy Takla, Grady Stein, Brian Gu, Alissa Smith and Ashton Woiwood.


Valley High School and Walnut Creek Campus sent a record 21 performances to the Iowa High School Speech Association’s All-State Festival. Valley’s 20 all-state entries set not only a school record, but a state record as well. Each school in the state is allowed to enter up to 23 performances into competition. Valley also set a record 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 Valley drama team was 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.

Gabe Mason was Walnut Creek’s entry to all-state with his performance of “Quarter Horse Dreaming.” Walnut Creek’s One Act Play group received a II rating at districts with members Ashley Stolz, Raechel Lewis, Michael Wyble, Hector Sanchez, Juan Castro, Mauri Castro, Wyatt Mylan, DeAntre Kelly, Sam Mooreland, Monica Haes, Siobhan Williams, Kyle Shepard and Cassidy Cannon.

Valley junior Dani Lipman, Valley sophomore Alex Johnson and Valley Southwoods freshman Grace Barker were selected to perform at the Iowa High School Speech Association’s Individual All-State Festival. Seven students received a I rating from each of their three judges at the state competition – Taylor Mankle in Spontaneous Speaking, Hannah Kate Fox in Acting, Dani Lipman in Solo Musical Theater, Bre Katcher in Expository Speaking, Kenzie Hamlett in Oratory, Henry Parizek in Radio News Announcing and Alex Johnson in Review.


Zane Gedler, Lauren Johnson and Todd Johnson were selected to All-State Jazz Band. Taylor Igram was also selected as an alternate.

Choralation was named Grand Champion of the Waukee Star Struck Show Choir Invitational. Other honors included Best Vocals, Best Show Band and Best Female Soloist to Emma Stier. Ignition also had a great showing, placing second out of 10 choirs in the prep division. Choralation was also named Grand Champion at the Emmetsburg Show Choir Invitational. Choralation is coached by Ryan Deignan and Ignition is coached by Haley Gibbons.

Valley and Valley Southwoods were represented very well at the Perry Band Olympics.  Out of 169 total performances, 109 received Division I ratings.  Of those, 11 soloists and three ensembles were recognized as Top Performers in their center.  They include: Taylor Altemeier, Sam Anderson, Natalie Bantz, Nick Behrends, Joe Brennan, Susannah Crichton, Todd Johnson, Jared Paine, Derek Pham, Noah Welch, Symphony Band Flute Ensemble, Symphony Band Percussion Ensemble and Concert Ensemble Saxophone Ensemble. In addition to those top placements, 34 additional soloists were recognized among the top five in their respective categories.

The following students received a I+ rating at the elementary band solo festival:
Clive (Instructor – Greg Simmons): Farah Hagen, Elea Cooper, Hazel Johnson, Imma Reineke, Quade Keenan, Emily Nicewarner, Max Simmons, Nathan White, Seth Croonquist, Isabelle Graham, Taryn Guthrie, Lauren Huffman, Elli Reel, Liana Sampson
Crestview (Instructor – Jerilyn Kobberdahl): Hailee Jorgensen, Tommy Weissenburger, Gwyn Chilcoat, Isabella Nadel, Kenia Flores, Cesilia Guzman, Zoey Weick, Nathan Willcockson, Jordyn Hayes, Grace Hoepker (2), Yajaira Triana, Kyle Elmore
Crossroads Park (Instructors – Jerilyn Kobberdahl, Karla Killinger): Jailyn Brewer Chapman, Melanie Wallace, Kelly Dulaney, Emmy Richardson, Katie Richardson, Katie Richards (2), Jake Stegman, Justin Hua (2), Alivia Fergus, Samantha Greene, Emily Collins
Fairmeadows (Instructor – David Kobberdahl): Isaiah Aldiano, Joslin Bawek, Kaitlyn Bebensee, AJ Bleskacek, Kaleb Clarke, Gracie Coleman, Jake Coleman, Austin Crawford, Aidan Drake, Madeline Echternacht, Nicholas Feingold, Cade Hoffman, Ayden Johnson, Jet Langel, Alex Ling, Kaitlyn Miller, Anthony Murdoch, Annalyn Poulsen, Jake Umble, Vitali Kittle
Hillside (Instructors – Jacob Strachan, Karla Killinger): Lesly De La Cruz, Avi Gedler, Melanie Isenhoff, Anna Borisenko, Abbie Clark, Zak Fleischman, David Gaunt, Angelika Baker
Jordan Creek (Instructor – Tony Garmoe, Roxianne Scott): Megan Weis, Halle Norton, Peter Erickson, Henry Leaders, Gracia Koele (2), Sam Hall, Elyse Porter, Landon Denker
Western Hills (Instructors – Jon Lewis, Roxianne Scott): Alanna Scherer, Alise Kuennen, Adelaide Frohardt, Nicholas Lucht
Westridge (Instructor – Tony Garmoe, Roxianne Scott): Conner Niland, Patrick Niland, Sophie Hixon, Jacey Spann, Eli Jaskolka, Brogan Kirkpatrick, Lauren Gilbert, Sarah Montgomery, Mari Wharff, Jacey Spann.


Senior Adam Morse was nominated to the Dexter/USBC High School All-American Boys Bowling Team, which will be announced in May. Five male and five female USBC high school members are selected annually to the All-American team, earning a $1,000 scholarship. Selection is based on bowling accomplishments, academic achievement, letters of recommendation, extra-curricular and community involvement, submitted essays and resumes.

The boys bowling team ended its season with a 9-4 record and a 3-0 mark in the CIC Western Division, finishing in second place at the conference meet. The team was the district champion and qualified for the state meet, placing fourth. The team is coached by Chris Amundson.

The Competition Cheer Squad placed fifth nationally at the National Cheerleaders Association Jr. and Sr. High School Nationals in Dallas, Texas. Team members are Sammie Bullington, Leah Carlson, Carter Forrest, Ashley Freeman, Taylor Glade, Bri Hagar, Jenna Hanson, Kaitlyn Harrington, Ashley Joos, Carissa Just, Maggie Laws, Natalie Lawyer, Makenna Lloyd, Haley Melz, Amanda Merck, Mackenzie Moran, Kayla Phalen, Meenu Raja, Bre Reeves, Megan Renkel, Megan Schnoebelen, Kaylee Shelton, Claudia Stewart, Jessica Studer, Sara Wetzel and Taylor White. Coach – Beth Ferguson.

The boys and girls basketball teams each advanced to the state tournament. The boys finished in second place after falling in the championship game. The boys are coached by Jeff Horner, Josh Frey, JR Angle and Kevin Pearce. The girls dropping out in the quarterfinals. They qualified for their first state tournament since 2007. The team broke the school’s single game scoring record twice this season, scoring 97 points and 99 points, en route to setting the single season total points record at 1,573. The team won the CIML Central Iowa Conference title outright, as senior Madi Agey took over the school’s career assists (345) and single season assists (119) records this season. The girls team is led by head coach Josef Sigrist, Chris Larson, Monique Jones, Seth Hagarty and Ross Bower.

The boys’ swimming team earned the district championship as Sam Gorham was named District Swimmer of the Year with four first place finishes.  The team ended the year with a third-place finish at the state meet: 200 Medley Relay (Carl Skoog, Bradley Rhein, Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek) second place; 200 Free Relay (Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek, Carl Skoog, Sam Gorham) second place and All-American consideration; 400 Free Relay (Carl Skoog, Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek, Sam Gorham) second place, new school record and All-American consideration; 50 Free – Sam Gorham, third place and new school record; 100 Butterfly – Ethan Eiler, fifth place; 100 Free – Sam Gorham third place, Carl Skoog fifth place, Beau Blazek 18th; 500 Free – Nick Fox 12th; 100 Breaststroke – Nick Fox 23rd. Coaches are Shawn DeBoef, Stephen Davis and Sue Boyle.

The wrestling team ended the season as district champions after placing second in the conference tournament. Six individuals qualified for the state meet (honors below). Coaches are Travis Young, Jeff Dyer, Chris Novak, Thad Loeb and Tony Wieland.

Conference/District/State Honors

Name Sport Honor(s)
Adam Morse Boys Bowling All-American nominee, CIC individual champion, 3rd place at state
Sean Graves Boys Bowling 12th place at conference meet
Turner Scott Boys Basketball first-team all-CIML CIC Western Division
Quinton Curry Boys Basketball second-team all-CIML CIC Western Division
Ted Brown Boys Basketball honorable mention all-CIML CIC Western Division
Madi Agey Girls Basketball Des Moines Register Elite All-State Team, first-team all-conference, firs-team all-division
Grace Vander Weide Girls Basketball Des Moines Register Elite All-State Team, first-team all-conference, firs-team all-division
Hannah Fuller Girls Basketball second-team all-division, second-team all-conference
Kasey Feldt Girls Basketball second-team all-division
Whitney Fuller Girls Basketball honorable mention all-division
Jake Koethe Wrestling 2nd place finish at state meet, conference champion
Jack Koethe Wrestling 8th place finish at state meet
Rocky Lombardi Wrestling state qualifier, 2nd place finish at conference meet
Brady Smith Wrestling state qualifier, 2nd place finish at conference meet
Tristan Cobb Wrestling state qualifier
Zach Matt Wrestling state qualifier


Valley orchestra directors Phil Peters and Michele Senger have been selected to participate in Mozart’s Worlds, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute. The institute will take place June 16-July 4 in Vienna, Austria.

Interim Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Carol Seid received the Drake University School of Education’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Valley girls basketball coach Josef Sigrist was named the Western Iowa District Class 5A Coach of the Year as well as the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.


Life in the WDMCS 4/7/14

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

April is National School Library Month and there will be many celebrations including why students think libraries are important, what students want their library to look like, and a party in the library! Kindergartners through third graders are working on making connections to books from the Iowa Goldfinch Awards. Students will also be making spine label poetry since April is National Poetry Month. Happy reading!

Crestview Elementary

Fourth grade student, Finn Nadel, recently presented an independent project on the history of the Olympics. His presentation was given to the entire fourth grade. It focused on the history of the Olympics leading up to this year. A few highlighted information was the USA men’s hockey win over Russia, Canadian coach giving skis to a Russian cross country skier and the recent Olympic Ring malfunction. To conclude the presentation, U.S. Olympic Bobsledder, Karlos Kirby, spoke to the students. He shared the background about how he became a bobsledder, the training involved, his experience on the team and his message, “The road to success starts with you: eat right, exercise and say no to drugs!”

Crossroads Park Elementary

This month, some students at Crossroads Park Elementary had the unique opportunity to experiment with African drums. Each student in fifth and sixth grades had the chance to try their rhythm on these fun and exotic instruments. Music teacher Angie Loney taught the students different drumming patterns then had them accompany fun songs like the Macarena and Kung Fu Fighting. Up to three drumming patterns were played at a time. Students from Sheila Hudson’s sixth grade class shared their feelings about these instruments. Alivia Fergus loved being able to play such a unique instrument since she has attended schools in other districts that did not provide these types of opportunities. Neal Sura thought they were fun to play, but found that pounding too hard could hurt your hands. The instruments are part of the WDMCS music program and are available for each school in the district to use.

To promote anti-bullying and a sense of community, Crossroads Park has involved every student in a Cool CREW (Crossroads Respects, Everyone Welcome). Every faculty member at Crossroads Park has a CREW of about 12 children made up of students from every grade. Each month they spend time with their CREW participating in activities. The first month the CREWs played fun getting to know you games. This past month each student created a small poster telling about themselves. The CREW leaders assembled them into a large poster to display in the school hallways. Next month students and staff are looking forward to writing a rap or a cheer with their CREWs to continue building team spirit. They are also looking forward to participating in Live Healthy Iowa Spring Fitness Day by exercising with their CREW. Ask your child about their CREW today!

Hillside Elementary

Second graders from Hillside Elementary recently visited Ballet Des Moines to observe the dancers rehearse the first stages of their performance of the Cinderella story. This performance helped students develop a deeper understanding of the concept of adaptation. Hillside is an Artful Learning School which allows teachers and students to bring the arts into the classroom. Students experience an overarching concept over the course of a trimester within the interdisciplinary studies. Arts based skills and strategies are embedded throughout the entire unit. Students are exposed to a masterwork and a significant question that aligns with the concept. They are able to deepen their understanding through experiencing, inquiring, and reflecting upon their new learning. Hillside second graders will begin their Adaptation Artful Learning Unit. They will be focusing on the significant question “How does the environment effect the way of life?”. The masterwork is a photograph taken by Dorothea Lange portraying a mother and her children during the Dust Bowl. Students will explore the concept of adaptation as it relates to the environment, architecture, people, literature and performance. Ballet Des Moines invited Hillside second graders to observe a dress rehearsal onstage at the Civic Center to help us gain a better understanding of the concept of adaptation. Students will learn about how the dancers have adapted their dances to tell the story, as well as their costumes, make-up, and overall performance from the first time we watched them perform in January.

Jordan Creek Elementary

The fourth grade students in Jan Bergman’s class are learning about fractions, decimals, and percents. They will learn how to convert the “easy” fractions such as 1/4, 1/2 and 1/5 into decimals and percents. They will also use a calculator to convert any fraction into a decimal and then into a percent. They will be doing an activity in which they compare the results of a class survey and also compare population data that is reported as percents. Finally, they will learn to multiply and divide with decimals. In Reader’s Workshop, they have been practicing evaluating text in the books “Diamonds” and “Sports Math” to determine whether statements in the text are facts or opinions. They learned to look for signal words such as “think” or “believe” to help tell whether the statement is an opinion. They also learned that facts can be proved to be true. During Writer’s Workshop they have researched and written an informational book about Russia. In their lessons, they learned about the basic features of a non-fiction book: sub-heads, sidebars, captions, bold print, the Table of Contents, the Index, the glossary, etc. They learned how to take notes on note cards, and how to combine information from multiple sources into a report. In Social Studies, they have enjoyed learning about Russia from all four of our fourth grade teachers.  They have learned about Russian land and animals from Miss Bratkiewicz, Russian culture from Jan Bergman, Russian History from Betty Anderson, and Russian literature and language from Deb Flagg. On April 4, they celebrated Russia Day. They played Russian Jeopardy, watched a video about the Russian circus, danced the troika (a Russian folk dance) and participated in or watched several plays about Baba Yaga, the evil Russian witch!

Students at Jordan Creek Elementary are having a Walk-A-Thon called Rock the Walk to raise money for their school. The kids will take pledges for their participation. A “red carpet” assembly was recently held for the kick-off of this great event. There were 48 sixth grade dancers and several teachers who performed in the assembly. Principal Graham Jones played L.L. Cool J.  The walk will be held on Friday, April 25.

Phenix Elementary

During library time at Phenix Early Childhood Center students participated in musical chairs. As music was played, students moved around the circle. When the music stopped students sat in the nearest spot and read the book that was on the chair. This gave students an opportunity to look at several books and expose them to different genres and authors.

Westridge Elementary

Students at Westridge celebrated Diversity Day on March 13. First graders had guest speakers from the Philippines, Togo, Africa and Japan. Students learned about different cultures and lifestyles. They enjoyed playing games familiar to children from the Philippines. Students listened to stories from Africa and practicing dancing. Students learned about Japanese families and learned some new vocabulary. They also enjoyed learning wrapping techniques using a square cloth called Furoshiki.

Valley Southwoods

Valley Southwoods Drama proudly presents: THE SECRET GARDEN.  Performance dates are Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 13 at 2 p.m.  The performances will be held in Stilwell Auditorium.  Tickets will be sold at the door: $3/$5.  We hope to see you there!