District News

Life in the WDMCS 5/5/14

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

Sixth graders in the WDMCS study Optics as a part of their science curriculum.  One activity of the unit is the dissection of a cow’s eye. Each sixth grader at Clive Elementary gets to dissect an eye to locate the major parts: cornea, pupil, iris, retina, optic nerve, optic disk and sclera.  The cow also has tapetum that gives many animals night vision.  Some students were somewhat apprehensive about this activity, but once they started the process, all were able to successfully dissect their cow’s eye and identify the parts studied.  For some students, this was “the best science day ever!”

Crestview Elementary

Crestview Gives Back, a blood drive in memory of first grader Camryn Storbeck, will be held in the school’s art room on May 27 from 1-6 p.m. Camryn was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma in 2010, and in her fight, had been through numerous rounds of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, a stem cell transplant and radiation treatments. She had received blood and/or platelets every 7-10 days towards the end of her battle. In memory of Camryn and to help those in need of blood transfusions, please sign up to donate at Crestview Gives Back by visiting www.lifeservebloodcoenter.org or calling Bridget Jacobson at 633-5704.

Fourth grade orchestra students are coming to the conclusion of their beginning strings experience. For their final performance of the school year, the beginning strings will perform the musical “At The Ball Game” by Curtis Barr. During the story, all of the musical selections are threaded together through a story narrated this year by Milton Cole, who serves as board member for WDMCS. In the story, twin siblings are treated to a ball game and discover that “if we keep trying, we really can do most anything.” Fourth grade students learn and perform benchmark pieces, “Ode to Joy” (theme from the final movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony), “Can Can” (from the opera Orpheus in the Underworld) and “Allegro” by Shiniki Suzuki, perhaps one of the most renown string teachers in history. In addition to benchmark pieces, students will perform a variety of additional musical selections including “Happy Birthday,” “Old Mac Donald,” “Mission Impossible” which are also integrated into the story as well as sound effects which are fun to play – but actually used to introduce advanced string techniques. We are looking forward to an energetic conclusion to the first year for our beginning string students as they work together to share their accomplishments and the joy of the music!

The Annual 5th Grade Festival was held recently for all orchestra students in the WMDCS. A new piece was commissioned for the occasion and the composer, Brian Balmages, was the conductor in residence for the festival. Students performed perennial favorites “Star Spangled Banner,” “Pachelbel Canon” and “Dragon Hunter” as well as the world premiere of “Velocity” byguest composer/conductor, Brian Balmages.

Fairmeadows Elementary

This year’s District Challenge of the Book event was held April 24  at Jordan Creek Elementary.  Seventeen teams competed in the event and included 137 students from Clive, Crestview, Fairmeadows, Jordan Creek and Western Hills Elementary. The emcee for the event was Betsy Richter, children’s librarian from the WDM Public Library.  Judges for the event were Morgan Miller and Kristy Skoglund, media specialists at Clive, Fairmeadows and Jordan Creek; and Dr. Nancy Moorhead and Beth Thornton, principals at Fairmeadows and Western Hills. After three nail-biting tie-breaking questions Fairmeadows won the final challenge question.

Hillside Elementary

Hillside Elementary had 12 students from fourth, fifth and sixth grade compete at the district’s annual Spanish Quiz Bowl. Alan Lopez, Dany Ponce and Julio Sanchez, sixth grade native Spanish-speakers from Hillside, also helped lead the games. Quiz Bowl participants included Connor Franklin, Emma Linder, Norah Malfara, Ben Ahlrichs, Shayla McMains, Ziona Foley, Bobby Cobine, Henry Shires, Marshall Jarnagin, Jacob Hunt, Dylan Valadez and Brittany Farwell.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek first graders joined together to sing for their families and guests in a Musical Informance on April 29. Music teacher Traci Klein led them in sharing many of the activities and songs they have enjoyed learning and singing throughout this school year.

Western Hills Elementary

As the year winds down, fourth graders at Western Hills haven’t slowed down a bit. In science, they are wrapping up a unit on the human body.  The students have learned all the important bones in the body, and how each of the body systems works.  To explore a little bit more on bones, students dissected owl pellets.  By looking at the bones that were in the pellets, the kids were able to identify what the owl had eaten. In reading, the classes have just celebrated a couple of their favorite readers theatre’s throughout the year.  Parents and relatives were invited to see the performance.  Students made props and created their own actions while demonstrating their fluency skills.

For PBIS, Western Hills is working hard on earning 5,000 tickets to earn a movie party.  To do this, each individual class has a goal that their class feels they need to work on (for example: to be kind).  Throughout the day, the teachers will put tickets in their class bucket every time they see someone demonstrating the class goal.  Those tickets will go towards the buildings goal of 5,000 tickets!  The kids are really excited about this, and are motivated to show how safe, responsible, and respectful they can be!

Westridge Elementary

Westridge fifth and sixth grade ELP students painted the US map on the school playground. Last spring the then fifth graders presented a proposal to the PTA for funding for the project.  They researched the cost of the stencil, chose and priced the paint and supplies, and convinced the PTA that it was a worthy project. Those students plus the current fifth grade ELP students, their parents and three Westridge ELP alums working on Silver Cord spend about three hours painting the map.

Walnut Creek Campus

Walnut Creek Campus students are hosting a plant sale on May 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to benefit the Walnut Creek Food Pantry and further the school’s vegetable garden project. It will be held at Walnut Creek Campus (1020 8th street, WDM) rain or shine. A project based learning group of 12 students have been working on the project, seeding and growing the plants to be sold. The plant sale is also aimed at promote gardening in West Des Moines. Plants will not be priced; instead there will be suggested donation to help the cause.d Pantry and further the school’s vegetable garden project. plants for sale will include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, winter squash, peas, cucumbers, broccoli and herbs.

Walnut Creek Campus Students to Hold Plant Sale


Walnut Creek Campus students are hosting a plant sale on May 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to benefit the Walnut Creek Food Pantry and further the school’s vegetable garden project. It will be held at Walnut Creek Campus (1020 8th street, WDM) rain or shine.

A project based learning group of 12 students have been working on the project, seeding and growing the plants to be sold. The plant sale is also aimed at promote gardening in West Des Moines. Plants will not be priced; instead there will be suggested donation to help the cause.

Plants for sale will include:

  • Heirloom Variety Tomatoes (Cherokee Purple, Kellogg’s Breakfast Tomato’s, German Johnson Pink, Crimson Beefsteak, Tomatillo Green Husk, Andrew Rahart Jumbo Red)
  • Peppers (Kings of the North, Red Mercury, Canary Bell)
  • Eggplant
  • Winter Squash
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Herbs (Purple Petra Basil, Dill, Catnip and Parsley – catnip sales will benefit the Furry Friends Refugee)

wcc-plants2“What started out thinking we would get our feet wet by visiting the Polk County Master Gardeners Greenhouse, and an hour later we left with eight racks of seed trays,” said Walnut Creek social studies teacher Ted Van Deventer. “This led us to start even more seeds and we now have over 150 tomato plants, hundreds of peppers and various other vegetables and herbs.”

Walnut Creek Campus surrounds students who demonstrate need for a smaller, more flexible, individualized learning environment with high quality instruction. All members of the school community are known and nurtured. The school develops informed, contributing citizens who are empowered to advocate and problem-solve throughout their lives.

Tim Miller to be Recommended as Next Principal of Valley High School

millertThe West Des Moines Community School District announces that Tim Miller will be recommended for appointment as the next principal of Valley High School. Miller will begin his duties at Valley on July 1.

“Tim is an extraordinary leader,” Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy said. “He is well respected, knowledgeable and a proven leader.  I am very excited to have him serve as the next principal of Valley High School.”

Miller is currently the principal of Stilwell Junior High in the West Des Moines Community School District and has served in this role since July 1999. He began his career in education 1976 as a special education teacher at Cedar Rapids Prairie Junior High. He taught special education at Waterloo Columbus High School from 1978-1983, at Waterloo East High School from 1983-1986 and Des Moines Lincoln High School from 1986-1992. He served as vice principal of Des Moines Brody Middle School from 1998-1999. He has also been a head varsity coach in baseball and football and served as athletic director at Des Moines Lincoln High School.

While at West Des Moines Community Schools, Miller has been part of several key and sustaining initiatives. He was involved in the development of the district’s Essentials of Effective Instruction (EEI), which provides teachers a framework for effective instructional practices. In addition, he has been involved in the district’s professional development committee.

Miller received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Luther College, his master’s degree in special education from the University of Iowa and his secondary school administrator certification from Drake University.

Current Valley High School Principal Jim Mollison announced his resignation on April 24 to pursue a career opportunity in real estate.

Remy will present the recommendation to the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education at its May 12 meeting. For more information on school board meetings, please visit http://bit.ly/WDMCSBoardInfo.