District News

Working Committee on Boundary Study to Meet

The West Des Moines Community Schools Boundary Committee will begin studying the district’s enrollment and boundaries on September 30.

Life in the WDMCS 9/29/14

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 fourth annual Clive English Language Learner (ELL) Potluck was held recently for families and staff. Families were able to meet other Clive families that speak additional languages other than English and share some delicious foods. Over 175 people were in attendance. There was time to informally meet and talk with temporary principal, Dr. Diebel, many of Clive’s teachers, Clive’s PTO representatives and resource people from our community: DMACC ( adult ESL classes); Evelyn K. Davis; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Unity Point; West Des Moines Human Services; Hispanic Educational Resources; and district representatives. The student winner of a MP 4 Multimedia Player was Maryan Said. It was a great time where staff and families were able to meet, talk, and share dinner together in a relaxed atmosphere.

Crestview Elementary

Crestview’s Spanish teacher Tammy Dann, 2nd grade teacher Tonya McCarville and the school librarian Ann Reynolds collaborated to raise and launch 10 Monarch butterflies this fall. With handmade screen covered tomato cages in McCarville’s classroom and a hallway display case, students watched the caterpillars munch on milkweed, spin their chrysalis’ and transform into butterflies. Senora Dann utilized the opportunity to discuss the process in Spanish and students of all grades watched the daily progress between classes in the hallway display. Students of various grades saw these delicate creatures take their first flight over the course of several weeks’ time.

Kindergartners at Crestview Elementary have been busy learners. They are getting to know their new classmates and learning the routines of school. They have been learning new mathematical vocabulary, with our Everyday Math curriculum. Some activates they have been doing include measuring and comparing, sorting, learning how to create and extend patterns, and introducing the concept of volume with sand and water. Through literacy rotations, students are strengthening their knowledge of letters of the alphabet and the letter sounds. The class is also discovering how letters go together to make words and words form sentences. Learning how to draw and write a story with a main idea and details are other fun projects for the kindergartners.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek fourth graders recently enjoyed a day at Red Feather Prairie by Saylorville Lake. The naturalists from Polk County Conservation led the group in a variety of activities to teach students about the plants and animals found on the prairie, and how the Native Americans and early pioneers experienced prairie life. They saw first-hand some of the most common prairie grasses in Iowa, Big Blue Stem and Indian Grass. They enjoyed going on an insect hunt and playing the Thicket Game. Fourth graders also learned about animals that live on the prairie, including animals that no longer live in Iowa, such as the bison and wolf. They learned how the Native Americans used every part of the bison, even the buffalo “chips.” One of the favorite activities was working with a small group to build a tipi, and then sitting inside an actual tipi. Even though Red Feather Prairie is small, 173 acres, it gave us a good idea of how Iowa once looked when our state was once part of the Tall Grass Prairie.

Western Hills Elementary

First graders at Western Hills have been learning about insects. They have learned that insects have three body parts and six legs. They also know there are many different kinds of insects all over the world. Laura Axman’s class was visited by a classroom parent, Jennifer Burton, who brought items to share from her work as an urban beekeeper. The children learned about being a beekeeper and the work you have to do to take care of the bees. She also brought honey and some live drones, which do not have stingers. The class enjoyed her visit and is looking forward to learning more about insects in the weeks ahead.

Human Growth and Development Parent Previews Oct. 6

Human Growth and Development curriculum, per senate file 2094, is required in the K-12 curriculum of Iowa schools. WDMCS students in grades four, five and six are shown videos as part of this curriculum that address topics such as puberty, body changes, adolescence, hygiene and healthy living.

Fourth Grade – “Just Around the Corner”
Videos are presented in gender separate classrooms. Boys watch the boys video and girls watch the girls video.

Fifth Grade — “Always Changing”
Both girls and boys see the same video, but in gender separate classrooms.

Sixth Grade — “Straight Talk About Puberty”
Girls and boys see the same video in their gender combined science classroom.

Parents are invited to a video previewing October 6 at the Learning Resource Center.

  • 4th Gr. Girls Video at 6:30 p.m.
  • 4th Gr. Boys Video at 7 p.m.
  • 5th Gr. Girls/Boys Video at 7:30 p.m.
  • 6th Gr. Girls/Boys Video at 8 p.m.

Any parent who cannot make the Oct. 6 previews are welcome to watch the videos at any time at the Learning Resource Center. Please call 633-5062 to set up an appointment.

Important Notes

  • Students are provided an opportunity to ask questions anonymously or verbally. Instructors respond to questions in a fact-based, non-judgmental or value-oriented approach.
  • Each elementary building will schedule a specific date and time to show the videos. Please check with your child’s teacher for details.
  • Parents may request that their child be excused from viewing the video or provided an alternative learning experience. If you elect NOT to have your child view the video please contact your child’s teacher in advance.

10 Tips for Getting Your Child to School

School is in full swing and many families are into a routine for the school year. This is the time when habits and attendancepatterns are set that affect school attendance.

Did You Know? Attendance is an important life skill that will help your child graduate from college and keep a job.

School attendance greatly affects academic success, starting as early as kindergarten. And it doesn’t stop in elementary. Even though your high school student may be more independent, families can still help make sure teens get to school on time and safely.

Here are some tips for parents that our WDMCS Learning Support and Family Engagement Coordinators Danette Rieper and Randy Dohmen have found that may help.

For Elementary Students

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
  • Don’t let your child stay home unless she is truly sick. Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
  • Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent.

For Junior High and High School Students

  • Talk about the importance of showing up to school everyday, make that the expectation.
  • Help your child maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Find out if your child feels engaged by his classes and feels safe from bullies and other threats. Make sure he/she is not missing class because of behavioral issues and school discipline policies. If any of these are problems, work with your school.
  • Stay on top of academic progress and seek help from teachers or tutors if necessary. Make sure teachers know how to contact you.
  • Stay on top of your child’s social contacts. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
  • Check on your child’s attendance to be sure absences are not piling up.

Source: www.attendanceworks.org

School Board Sets 5 Boundary Criteria

On September 22, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education set criteria for determining possible changes to school attendance boundaries in the district.

Board Elects Brown as President, Lipman as Vice President

On Monday, Sept. 22, the West Des Moines Board of Education elected David J. Brown as its president and Andi Lipman as its vice president.

Brown was elected to the Board in 2011. He is vice president of compliance at David BrownPrincipal Financial Group. He is a graduate of Valley High School. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. He and his wife, Julie, have three children: Ross is a 2010 graduate of Valley; Keegan is a 2012 graduate of Valley High School; and Chase is a ninth grader at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School. Brown has served on the board of directors of Youth Emergency Services & Shelter and on the board of directors of Hospice of Central Iowa. He is also a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

Andi LipmanLipman was also elected to the Board in 2011. She is an attorney in West Des Moines. She is also a graduate of Valley High School. Lipman holds a bachelor of science honors degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. She and her husband, Jeff, have four children: Arielle is a 2010 graduate of Valley High School; Dani is a senior at Valley; Meier is a sophomore at Valley; and Asher is a fourth grader at Western Hills Elementary. Lipman has served as Western Hills PTA president and Valley PTO volunteer coordinator. She also served on the district boundary committee, school improvement team and School Community Network.


Life in the WDMCS 9/22/14

Life in the WDMCS 9/22/14

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

Kindergartners at Fairmeadows Elementary had an Open House Event for students to show their families around the classrooms and meet other families.Students in Joan Miller’s kindergarten class had an opportunity to take home their completed book boxes. The book boxes will be used to store the many types of reading that is sent home each week for practice. Students had a surprise in their boxes as they found special sharing bags sewn by their teacher associate, Anne Baumhover. These bags will be used to carry their weekly sharing item.

 Hillside Elementary

Students in Physical education have started the year learning about teamwork, how to be a teammate and good sportsmanship. The students have participated in various team building challenges in their Physical Education classes. Some of the activities have been Team Cheer, Mission Impossible, Centipede and Team Juggle. These activities help the students develop relationships and build confidence working with their classmates.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek first through third graders have been learning how to think like detectives. As a part of the Extended Learning Program, students in the primary grades are introduced to different types of thinking. Jennifer McLaughlin, the ELP teacher, teaches lessons in each of the primary classrooms. The lessons have a specific type of thinking as its focus. To begin the year, students have been introduced to Dudley the Detective. He represents detective thinking. Which consists of organizing clues, taking time to think about the clues and coming up with one correct answer. Throughout the year the lessons will focus on inventor, scientist, magician and storyteller thinking. These classroom lesson reinforce the higher level thinking that is emphasized in the primary classrooms.

Valley High School

Congratulations to Ojes Pradhan who was awarded a scholarship during the Greater Des Moines National Council on Youth Leadership (NCYL) 22nd Annual Youth Salute. Other Valley students honored during the ceremony were Hanna Anderson, Julia Anderson, Jillian Belieu, Andrew Denkinger, Jacob Goetz, Jeffrey Goetz, Daly Hardy, Benjamin Kruse, Allison Levis, Maria Lind, Hira Mustafa, Kayla Phalen, Elizabeth Reed, Jake Rodgers, Aimee Rodin, Dominique Senteza, Katherine Smoldt, Miranda Strelecki, Arun Velamuri, Ravjot Virdi, Annie Weinberg, Satya Yaramati and Brianne Zbylicki.

Board to Consider Boundary Criteria Sept. 22

This year, the West Des Moines Community Schools will study trends in student enrollment and review the location of school boundaries.

Students Teach Educators on Professional Development Day

District Tech PD Day_1 WDMCS students Quinn Kelly, Lauren Dettbarn and Abigail Bishop were supposed to have Monday, Sept. 15 off from school because it was a professional development day for teachers in the district.

The three girls were in class instead. In fact, the Jordan Creek Elementary sixth graders were teaching a class to educators from across the district.

“It was definitely different,” said Dettbarn, who admitted she was a little nervous at first. “But Mr. V says all the time that adults listen to kids more than adults listen to adults.”

District Tech PD Day_4Mr. V is Jordon Creek fifth grade teacher Jeff Ver Helst, who organized the session on using Google Docs in fourth through sixth grade classrooms. He asked the students to join him because knew his co-workers would want to see how technology can affect student learning from the student’s perspective.

Teachers attending the session learned how students can create, collaborate, edit and discuss writing through Google Docs, which is an online word processor that lets users create and format text documents and collaborate with other students in real time. Teachers also learned how to provide comments on student writing and check student progress.

“They were excellent learners,” said Bishop of her adult pupils.

Teachers liked having students help lead the class. “They took time to explain what they were doing while they District Tech PD Day_5showed it to us, which is like the reciprocal teaching that we want them to know how to do,” said Fairmeadows fourth grade teacher Karen Sipfle.

The class was one of 45 one-hour sessions focused on technology training for more than 600 WDMCS teachers and administrators. There were 37 simultaneous sessions and teachers chose at least five sessions to attend. The training was primarily on Google applications, but also other technology options related to differentiation in instruction.

The sessions were led by more than 55 trainers, who included district teacher leaders, Heartland Area Education Agency employees, and Google certified trainers. Ver Helst’s sessions were the only ones with students as trainers. His morning session on iPad apps included sixth-grade student instructors Jonah Cutler, Will Cooper and Gabe Schebel.

District Tech PD Day_3All three girls said they would do it again, even if it meant giving up another day off from school.







District Tech PD Day_2

Life in the WDMCS 9/15/14

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 Kindergarteners at Clive Elementary are off and running to a great school year!  They have learned so much about being safe, respectful, responsible and caring at school.  Kindergarteners have talked about three ways to read a book and have practiced read to self, A LOT!  This is what good reading looks like!

Crestview Elementary

It’s that time of year again!  We’re returning to school, filling out forms, and needing all sorts of information and papers. One place that collects a lot of your child’s information is the Nurse’s Office. Two of the most important pieces of information collected are your child’s immunization record and a yearly health update.  The immunization record is required by the State of Iowa and helps keep your child up to date with their immunizations.  It is very important to provide the nurse with your most recent immunizations and health information.  The health update form informs the nurse of important updates to your child’s health such as recent surgery, new allergies, new medications and more.  If you haven’t filled one out this year, please ask your school nurse for a form or find it at www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schools/registration/forms. Stop in and get to know your nurse!

Crossroads Park Elementary

The first Crossroads Park Tiger Council meeting was spent preparing the decorations for the school’s homecoming float. The students chose a jungle theme and had every child in the school trace and cut out their hand on a different color of construction paper to create the leaves for the jungle. Council members spent the morning putting them together and creating other decorations.

The Crossroads Park Fourth and Fifth Grade Book Club also held its first meeting of the school year. It is sponsored by the PTA and is held once a month on a Friday morning before school. At the meeting students made bookmarks, ate bagels and chose their first book to read, Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

 Hillside Elementary

Hillside Elementary students are sharing their artwork with the community.  Student artwork is being showcased at the Barnes and Noble on University Avenue in West Des Moines.  The first gallery show features fifth and first grade artwork. Fifth graders created abstract compositions inspired by the innovative work of the Italian futurist movement.  First grade artists painted expressive sunflowers like the artist Vincent Van Gogh. Featured artwork will be displayed through the month of September in the stores cafe and children’s section. Hillside art teacher, Pamela Ballard said, “We are really excited for the opportunity to have such a wonderful public display!  Congratulations to our artists for having their work selected.”

Students whose work is on display include fifth grade artists Teghan Bennett, Belinda Boafowah, Baillee Dawson. Talang DutTalang, Ian Gaunt, Lauren Jones, Norah Malfara ,Sophia Nelson, Madison Sandel, Olivia Stout, Jordyn  Reed and Zayah Williams; and first grade artists Annabelle Gallagher, Gabriel Hart, Audrina Jones, Ellie Logsdon, Sammy Mendoza-Vasquez, Eden Miller, Sofie Molina, Hayden Pottorff, Ariana Salcido and Addison Schnieders.

Jordan Creek Elementary

There is always something fun and exciting going on in the Jordan Creek Elementary Physical Education classes.  Over the past two weeks fourth through sixth grade students in Luis Suarez’ classes have been combining teamwork, problem solving and physical skills to complete some unique challenges.  Students must work together to solve such problems as “The Great Wall of Jordan Creek,” the “Earth ball,” the “Grand Canyon” and the “River Crossing.”  All of the challenges have some physical requirements such as balance, strength or flexibility.  Each challenge also requires teams to problem solve and work together as they would using the scientific method or solving for variables in math.  A large part of the focus centers on using positive encouragement, compliments and celebrating the team’s accomplishments.  It is a perfect opportunity to use the six pillars of Character Counts that are taught in all classes.  Parents were invited to come observe and many did, as did Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy, board member Milton Cole and various teachers from the building and the district.  Students also complete a summary which asks them what strengths, skills or qualities they bring to their team.  If they cannot think of one, their team members are quick to chime in and point out their talents.  During the River Crossing, team members are not allowed to touch the river of lava with any part of their body.  They have a scooter, a cone, a rubber ring and a rope to figure out how to get across.  Fourth grader Rylie Lewis, who is in a wheel chair, discovered this was a day she could use it to her advantage and became the “tow truck” for her team as they attached the rope to the scooter and she pulled them across the river.  One of the goals is to get off to a positive start and realize that all students are important to their team, their class and their community.  Most of the teams worked through the challenges and enjoyed the process.

Valley High School

Congratulations to the 2014 Homecoming Court: Moustafa Abdalla, Bailey Zoss, Sammy DeHaai, Samantha Danielson, Ali Baumann, Whitney Fuller, Keller Prien, Daniel Soto, Chase Koschmeder and Derek Pham. Mark your calendars for the Homecoming Parade, BBQ and Carnival beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday. Friday’s football game with kick off at 7:30 p.m. with the King and Queen crowned at halftime. Stay tuned for fireworks after the game! Homecoming Activity Schedule