District News

Preschool Palooza is Back for a Second Year!

WDMCS Community Education’s Preschool Palooza event will take place on November 8, from 9:30 a.m. until noon at Hillside Elementary School, 713 8th Street, West Des Moines, IA.

This free event is designed for children ages two to six and their grown-ups. Children will be able to play games, have their faces painted, sing and dance with Music-n-Motion, listen to a story, and explore a City of West Des Moines vehicle. Grown-ups will be able to talk with the WDMCS district staff about kindergarten registration, district and community preschool programs, nutrition and transportation staff.

Preschool directors and teachers who participate in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SVPP) will also be present.

Other organizations that are participating in Preschool Palooza include: Apple Tree Children’s Centers (Grand Avenue and Ashworth locations), Creekside Christian Preschool, City of West Des Moines, Drake University Head Start, Safe Kids Iowa, Heartland AEA 11, Music-n-Motion, Sacred Heart Preschool, The Hannah Geneser Foundation, Tiger Cubs Preschools, Walnut Creek YMCA, WDM United Methodist Preschool, and Windsor Heights Lions Club.

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It’s a Great Pumpkin Patch at Jordan Creek

Jordan Creek Teacher Librarian Kristi Skoglund with her pumpkin character, Fly Guy.

Jordan Creek Teacher Librarian Kristi Skoglund with her pumpkin character, Fly Guy.

Jordan Creek Elementary has taken pumpkin decorating and the love of reading to a new level with more than 120 pumpkins lining the bookshelves in the school’s media center.

These aren’t your ordinary decorated pumpkins. Kristy Skoglund, the school’s teacher librarian, asked students and families to decorate a pumpkin as their favorite book character and bring them to the media center to display. The first step in the project, though, was to read the book together.

“It’s all about trying to get kids and families together as a community of readers,” said Skoglund.

One student not only decorated a pumpkin, they created a character and wrote their own book!

One student not only decorated a pumpkin, they created a character and wrote their own book!

She had seen the idea several places online, but decided this year she would take the plunge and see what the response would be. She created her own pumpkin to show students and get their creative juices flowing. She never imagined what the end result would be.

“We have the most creative parents and kids,” Skoglund said. “We have had hot glue guns, felt…one dad said he even brought out the power tools. There is an amazing amount of talent around here.”

Not only was the project a fun one, but it has created some nice side effects. Parents and grandparents are coming to the media center before and after school with their kids to see all the different characters and Skoglund can barely keep the books that go with the pumpkins on the shelves. Even classics like Elmer the Elephant have become popular again.

Elmer the Elephant has become popular once again due to the Jordan Creek pumpkin project.

Elmer the Elephant has become popular once again due to the Jordan Creek pumpkin project.

“It’s all about trying to celebrate reading,” said Skoglund. “It’s odd because Elmer hasn’t circulated for a long time. He is a really old book and can sit on the shelf for a long time and then all of a sudden he’s a big hit again.”

Not only are the pumpkins a hit with the families at Jordan Creek, they’ve become a hit with the authors of the books as well. Skoglund took to Twitter and Tweeted pictures of the students with the pumpkins to a few of the authors and received some excited responses.

One was from Laura Numeroff, author of the series If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If you Give a Pig a Pancake. Skoglund Tweeted “This little guy was so proud of his mouse pumpkin that he based on your Mouse!!”

To which Numeroff replied, “He is absolutely adorable! Please tell him I said HAPPY HALLOWEEN, and I’m thrilled that he chose MOUSE for his pumpkin!”

This pumpkin of Mouse received a reply tweet from the author, Laura Numeroff.

This pumpkin of Mouse received a reply tweet from the author, Laura Numeroff.

You can find more photos of the students with their pumpkin characters on the Jordan Creek Facebook page.


Facebook Album 1

Facebook Album 2


Dates for Public Feedback Sessions on Boundaries Set

The public is invited to give feedback on boundary options at three public forums:

38 Students to Participate in All-State Music Festival

The Valley High School fine arts department will have 38 students participate in the Iowa All-State Music Festival Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

All-state band members:
Flute 1 – Julia Anderson
Clarinet 2 – Bryce Sederburg
Trumpet 1 – Sam Anderson
Trombone 2 – Jacob Bedia
Trombone 3 – Joe Brennan
Percussion, Orchestra – Derek Pham
Alternates – Julian Castillo, oboe

All-state choir members:
Soprano –Claire Maly, Jessica Martens, Nicole Miller, Lauren Pfeil, Elizabeth Watson
Alto – Maria Lind, Beka Conard, Jillian Belieu
Tenor – Keaton Denker, Jared Freiburg, Brook Norwood, Matthew Hrdlicka, Derek Lutt, Josh Miksch
Bass – Luke Dawson, Jake Grittman, Andy Han
Alternate – Gloria Tanui, alto

All-state orchestra members:
Violin – Hannah Willard, Guowei Qi, Tori Cassady, Andrew Yi
Viola – Alexandra Carther, Clara Ortgies
Cello – Michael Stevens, Cayden Codel, Kate Jaros
Harp – Elsa Klein
Alternates – Joe Reck, violin; Travis Smith, viola; Ben Wiese, cello

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the Iowa State athletic ticket office or online at Ticketmaster. For more information on the Iowa All-State Music Festival, visit www.ihsma.org/all_state.shtml.

Life in the WDMCS 10/27/14

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.

District Wide

The Polk County Health Department is sponsoring a flu clinic at Hillside on Monday, Nov. 3 from 4-7 p.m. This clinic is open to the students, faculty, and families of West Des Moines Community Schools. It is also open to all of the community, so feel free to invite family, friends and neighbors!Most insurances are accepted and some students may qualify for a free vaccine.

Clive Elementary

Fourth graders from Clive Elementary visited the Jester Park Blazing Star Prairie near Saylorville Lake to tie into their learning about the history of Iowa and its landforms. Students enjoyed hands-on learning about different plants, animals, people and types of shelter found in the prairie. The visit included opportunities to learn and practice games played by Native Americans and pioneers, understanding about the necessity of bison and other animals found in the prairies, and tool making. Additionally, students learned about the traditions and use for tipis, participated in a nature walk, and became investigators of the prairie through an insect hunt, using nets and books to reference the names for what they found. The day concluded with a picnic lunch, presentations from Naturalists from Jester Park, and student reflections.

Fifth graders at Clive Elementary have been working hard on reading aloud fluently, or making reading sound as smooth as speaking. Over the past few weeks, the class has focused its fluency work on reading with appropriate speed and pacing. They practiced this skill by performing a fun readers theater script in small groups, reading with partners, and choral reading as a whole class. They even practiced with some of the Drake University football players! The football players came to visit the class and listened to each student read individually. We had a lot of fun practicing our fluency skills with the football players!

Crestview Elementary

Crestview Elementary recently participated in Live Healthy Iowa’s Fall Fitness Day and the Healthiest State Walk by walking a one-kilometer path during lunch recess. The students enjoyed walking and playing with visiting parents and our Clive business partners. Thank you to the parents, firefighters, police officers, and Clive civil servant workers for supporting our efforts in adopting a healthier lifestyle through increased physical activity here at Crestview!

Crestview second graders are learning about balance and motion through projects and experiments. Students have been building various structures and objects to demonstrate balance and motion. These experiments also reinforce critical thinking skills and team work.

Crossroads Park Elementary

With the generous support of the PTA, Crossroads Park sixth graders were blessed with having the opportunity to learn in an outdoor classroom. To enhance their wetlands unit in science class, students participated in activities/learning experiences including stream table, enviroscape, shelter building, pond study, watershed observation hike, survival film, animal tall-tales, kayaking, fishing and even a campfire! These hands on learning opportunities not only provided rich education, but the trip also provided lasting memories and community building. This trip would not have been possible without the PTA and also the tremendous assistance of several parents that came along on the trip.

Fairmeadows Elementary

This week Fairmeadows Elementary was rockin’ to Rock in Prevention, a high energy music filled assembly. The focus was on Bully Prevention and feeling good about oneself. During the week, students also focused on the pillars of character by wearing special colors or clothing each day to represent the pillars of character. Students discussed in their classrooms and during weekly guidance classes ways to show responsibility and ways to help our bodies stay healthy and safe. The Fairmeadows PFC purchased small gifts for all students to help celebrate Character Counts and Red Ribbon Week.

 Hillside Elementary

Hillside sixth grade band students participated in the All-District Band Spectacular, part of the annual ValleyFest marching band competition. Band students in grades 6-12 prepared and memorized music for this unique and memorable performance. The event was a huge success, and it was a perfect fall day with beautiful weather!

Character Counts week is happening at Hillside! Students and teachers throughout Hillside demonstrate the six pillars of character each and every day, and Character Counts week allows the school to acknowledge and celebrate all of the great characters in the Hillside community. To help display the greatest super power pillar, each student will get to design their own emblem telling about what pillar of character they feel is their super power.

Jordan Creek Elementary

The Jordan Creek Chorus will soon start rehearsing! The fifth and sixth grade singing group will rehearse once a week (Monday OR Friday) from late October through mid -January; twice a week rehearsals on Monday AND Friday from mid-January through March; and performing two March chorus concerts. The community is invited to attend the concert on Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Jordan Creek gymnasium. Chorus will end for the year after the two March performances. If your student has not yet enrolled in chorus, please contact chorus director Amy Hachmann for more information.

Third grader Theron Castle and first grader Lexie Johnson were chosen as this month’s Jordan Creek Kids of Character. They will each get to choose a friend to have a special Principal’s Lunch Bunch with Principal Graham Jones and Assistant Principal Brian Vaughan.

Jordan Creek reading teacher Susan Healy was awarded the Banker’s Trust ABC5 One Classroom at a Time Education Grant. Healy received $1,000 as part of the award, which she plans to use towards books for her classes.

The Jordan Creek Media Center is celebrating fall with pumpkins this year! Students were asked to bring in a pumpkin decorated as a book character. Some very clever Jordan Creek students and families have been celebrating the love of reading with their pumpkin decorating skills. Throughout the media center you can see Clifford, the Fly Guy, Fancy Nancy, Pete the Cat, Harry Potter, the Lorax, the Pigeon and more.

Western Hills Elementary

First graders from Western Hills Elementary took a trip to Jester Park to complement their insect unit. Polk County Conservation met students to do hands on discovery projects as students explored the woodlands to identify a variety of insects native to the area.

Westridge Elementary

It was an exciting day when 11 Westridge Elementary students took part in the District Special Olympic Bowling Tournament in Des Moines. The students practiced over a period of six weeks. The culmination of hours of practice resulted in four students including Danica Westerhold, Anna Bylund, Brock Berg, and Lauren Simpson earning first place! They will continue on to the State Bowling Tournament in November.

Valley High School

Do you love fresh fruit? Are you looking for a holiday gift that’s unique? The Valley Band is selling fresh, Florida fruit including oranges, grapefruits, pears, tangelos and more! Dates to purchase run from October 20 to November 7 with delivery of the fruit scheduled for the week of December 15. The money raised is used to support band students and activities including buying sheet music, paying entrance fees to competitions and more. If you are interested in placing an order, please contact a member of the Valley Band or send an e-mail to fruit@valleybands.org.

Valley students presented their projects using the autonomous learner model during the annual Iowa Talent and Gifted Conference. The WDMCS had many teachers attend the conference to learn how to best serve our student population. WDMCS teachers also led sessions, with Felicia Twit presenting on math enrichment while Karen Downing and Alena Treat led the Valley students as they presented their projects.

District to Test Phone Notification System Oct. 24

Winter weather is approaching! The district will be conducting a test of its emergency notification system Fri., Oct. 24 at 11 a.m. This is ONLY A TEST.
Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The caller ID on your phone will show the number 515-633-5599.
  • The phone call is made through Infinite Campus Messenger, so your phone number must be entered into IC in order to receive the call.
  • If you do not receive a test call, please contact your school office to let them know you did not receive a call and would like to update your Infinite Campus information. You can also update your information by following the instructions below.

What if I have a phone number that is not listed and I want to add it?
You can call your school office to have them update it for you, or follow these instructions to submit a request for the update: http://wdmtech.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/ic-household-changes.pdf

I don’t have an Infinite Campus account. How do I change my weather notification preferences?
You can call your school office and they can change your preferences for you.

Grammy-Funded Music Class Features Online Learning (Video)

Music from the Civil War era to present day is the subject of a Valley High School course that integrates online learning with in-class instruction.

Boundary Committee Meets October 21

The West Des Moines Community Schools Boundary Committee will continue its study of the district’s enrollment and boundaries at 6:30 p.m. on October 7 in the Community Room at theLearning Resource Center. This meeting is open to observers.

Life in the WDMCS 10/13/14

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.

District Wide

The Polk County Health Department is sponsoring a flu clinic at Hillside on Monday, Nov. 3 from 4-7 p.m. This clinic is open to the students, faculty, and families of West Des Moines Community Schools. It is also open to all of the community, so feel free to invite family, friends and neighbors!Most insurances are accepted and some students may qualify for a free vaccine.

Clive Elementary

Fifth graders in Julie Pargeon’s class at Clive Elementary are practicing their reading pace and expression with Reader’s Theater. The kids enjoy acting out a part in a play and performing it for their classmates. They also focus on how to present effectively by speaking clearly, with appropriate volume, and making eye contact with the audience. Props and costumes are optional and give the students a chance to make the play come alive. They will do skits throughout the year, allowing students to develop fluency and presentation skills while having so much fun!

Clive Elementary had 14 students participate in the Native-Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl at the Learning Resource Center. This quiz bowl is for students in fourth and fifth grades who already know how to speak Spanish. These students played games against other WDMCS schools, all in Spanish, and enjoyed the traditional Mexican dessert of churros for a snack. Congratulations to the following Clive Elementary students for representing their school: fourth graders Julisa Hernandez, Rogelio Barron-Madrid, Gary Grijalva, Hannia Ruiz-Ugalde, Derek Corona, Melina Reverol, Simon Mulford, Briggette Escarino; fifth graders Janet Bustos, Madvin Grijalva, Alexandra Lopez, Karina Suarez, Cesar Martinez, Citlaly Lopez.

First graders at Clive Elementary have been studying insects over the past couple of weeks. They have learned many things including the characteristics of insects, the life cycle of a butterfly, and how insects and humans are alike and different. During this unit, the students learned that insects have three body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. They also learned that they have six legs and two antennae. One of the most exciting parts of this unit was watching our real, live caterpillars form chrysalises and come out as butterflies. It was a great learning experience to watch the life cycle happen!

Crestview Elementary

Crestview fourth graders have been working on Lego Self Portraits in art class. They studied Lego mini figures to identify which geometric shapes could be used to draw a Lego style portrait. Students chose their expression and hairstyle, then designed a background that represented either a favorite place or a goal for the future.

Crossroads Park Elementary

The fourth and fifth grade Native Spanish Speakers across the District were invited to attend the Native Speakers Quiz Bowl. Attendees from Crossroads Park were Ben Lepe-Guerero, Obed Masungu, Alan Chavez, Brian Ruiz-Patino, Kenya Gomez-Rodriguez, Jasmine Villanueva, Evelin Alvarado, Abisai Garcia, Marcelo Carreras, Karime Salamanca and German Sanchez. The students learned a new dance and were treated to games and refreshments to celebrate their culture and language. Grandview University personnel and students were on hand to facilitate the activities. It was a great time to appreciate the Latino culture, learn new things, and make new friends.

On October 17, Crossroads will host its First Annual RACE Day Run/Walk! This event is one of three fundraisers the school’s PTA will sponsor this year. Instead of sales fundraisers, the PTA will be focused on fitness or education for its fundraising, as in the math and reading challenges to follow in February and April. As a result, all proceeds go directly to our school! Students will spend 30-60 minutes running and walking around the designated course. In case of inclement weather, RACE Day will be held on Monday, Oct. 20.

Crossroads Park staff and students are determined to help Iowa become the healthiest state. PE Teacher Chad Barnes mowed a 1K track behind the school. During the Healthiest State Walk on Oct. 8, 455 students and teachers took a turn walking the track.

To promote anti-bullying and a sense of community at Crossroads Park, staff have 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 staff spend time with their CREW participating in activities. The Cool CREW activity for the month of October will revolve around Red Ribbon Week and also talking about the character trait of trustworthiness. We plan on hanging the posters in the hallways and the classrooms with doors will have large paper posters hung on their doors.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Deb Augspurger’s general music class at Fairmeadows Elementary recently hosted Johnny Koenig, a young star accordion player who specializes in polka music. Third grade students were excited to learn how an accordion works and to see Koenig perform. A special treat was when Stephanie Wilson, WDMCS director of curriculum, showed students how to dance the polka. The students enjoyed giving it a try.

Sixth graders from Fairmeadows Elementary had the opportunity to explore the Engeldinger Marsh. At the marsh, they looked for microorganisms found in pools of water. They also did an ecology study where they found numerous crayfish and frogs. The sixth graders came back to school with muddy shoes and clothes but with a higher level of appreciation for the wetland.

Fairmeadows Elementary had 12 students participate in the Native-Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl at the Learning Resource Center. This quiz bowl is for students in fourth and fifth grades who already know how to speak Spanish. These students played games against other WDMCS elementary schools, all in Spanish, and enjoyed the traditional Mexican dessert of churros for a snack. Congratulations to the following students for representing Fairmeadows: fourth graders Ernesto Jurado, Leslie Perez, Raquel Paz, Luca Santana, Santi Tapia; fifth graders Arturo Perez, Anjel Tapia, Alex Bacilio, Adolfo Jurado, Louis Lara, Oscar Lara, Kenneth Yanqui.

Fairmeadows Elementary fourth graders went to the Red Feather Prairie to learn about the prairie habitat – the animals, plants, and grasses – that used to live in Iowa. Students built tipis, caught and released insects and played a game to learn about how the ecosystem stays in balance. We also had the opportunity to see and touch a variety of animal pelts, as well as learn how the pelt was tanned. Many were surprised to learn that the animal’s brain was used to tan the hide and that every part of the bison served a purpose.

 Hillside Elementary

Kindergartners at Hillside recently met with their new Tiger Pals. Each kindergartner was paired with a sixth grade buddy who will be their Tiger Pal for the remainder of the school year. Tiger Pals meet once a month for 30 minutes and complete special activities the kindergartners might not be able to otherwise complete independently. Tiger Pal activities give kindergarten and sixth grade students an opportunity to develop caring and respectful relationships and demonstrate good citizenship skills at school…and who doesn’t love making a new friend!

First graders at Hillside are finding connections to each other, music, art and the world around them. On a recent field trip to Raccoon River they explored the world of insects and how many bugs live in communities just like us. Students spent time outdoors using their senses to connect to nature. The listened, looked, smelled, and felt many living things. Once they returned to Hillside they used what they had experienced to build an environmental soundscape– adding art and music to connect to the sights and sounds of nature.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek third graders have been studying the rainforest as their first science unit this year. They were extremely fortunate to have two culminating activities that brought the world of the rainforest to life. A zookeeper from Blank Park Zoo visited Jordan Creek and brought some of her zoo friends along. The kids were very excited to touch the animals and hear the wealth of information the zookeeper had to share. The entire school also participated in a cell phone recycling drive for the Blank Park Zoo. The zoo will take the old cell phones and recycle the materials. This will benefit the Orangutan Conservation Program to help with deforestation.

Third graders also recently travelled to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Chaperoned by many wonderful parent volunteers and the third grade teaching team, the 3rd graders enjoyed a guided tour of the Lied Rainforest exhibit where everything they had been learning in the classroom came to life. The kids got to see real examples of many of the plants and animals they had been learning about. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Learning to make a tipi, listening to Native American stories, canoeing, and building a shelter were a few of the activities fifth graders from Jordan Creek participated in during their overnight field trip to the YMCA camp near Boone. In correlation with their woodlands unit in science and their Native American studies students were able to participate in activities to reinforce their learning. Naturalist Mike organized the activities with the assistance of fifth grade teachers. Students learned about ecology and taking care of our environment. They were divided into groups and rotated to different stations where they learned the history of the tipi and set one up. They were all able to sit inside and hear how the Native Americans adapted to the world around them. Stream ecology was another area of learning where students found and identified critters in the stream. Wilderness survival had the students creating their own survival hut from lots, limbs, and leaves around them. A discovery hike and canoeing rounded out the stations and kept the students busy during their time. The fifth graders, teachers, and chaperones also participated in a night hike.

Western Hills Elementary

First grade is busy learning about insects! The class went on an insect hunt with its buddy class and found grasshoppers, butterflies, dragonflies and lots of bees. Working with a buddy class gives younger students the opportunity to learn from older students who are also studying insects. It gives the older students the chance to be “experts” and mentors to the younger students. Students then took their insects back to the room to observe them.

Westridge Elementary

Sixth grade students from Westridge Elementary spent two days at Springbrook Conservation Education Center learning about the environment. Students participated in activities focusing on conservation, survival, team building and appreciation of the environment. Students studied the pond at Springbrook finding and identifying many different organisms as well as testing the health of the pond. One of the favorite activates was building survival shelters. The sixth graders also learned about how our daily lives affect the water supply as well as the effects of erosion. The final activity taught the students how to appreciate the trees and to take time to enjoy the beauty around us. Other activities that the students participated in included an Earthwalk, scavenger hunt, deer hike and campfire. Students enjoyed the hands-on learning outside of the school walls. Community and relationship building was a huge objective that was well received by all participants including students, parents, and teachers. This field trip is unique in the sense that the students spend one night away from home with parent volunteers and teachers. They enjoy the time working on academics as well as team building and building character.

Valley High School

Valley social studies teachers Dan Kelly and Kevin Neal recently presented at the Iowa Council for the Social Studies (ICSS) state conference. Their presentation was titled Back Channel, Eash Tech and Devouring Documents.  It focused on using stimulus based materials and accessing interactive web sites to increase student engagement. VHS social studies teacher Kelsey Hudson presented as part of a Primarily Teaching grant from the Library of Congress.  Following a summer institute on using primary documents cosponsored by the Iowa Historical Society, Kelsey’s group prepared model lesson plans that are document intensive.  Kelsey’s session was titled Library of Congress of Workshop.

Boundary Committee Begins Map Development

The district’s boundary study committee held its second meeting on Oct. 6, creating map sketches for the demographers to review as an initial step toward developing boundary options. The committee of 50 was divided into eight small groups with each group submitting a cursory suggestion.