District News

Health Screenings

The WDMCS onsite Health Screenings are just around the corner!  Appointment scheduling is NOW available on the wellness portal at www.bebetter.net.  Log in, and then select ‘Schedule Screening’ in the left hand navigation to schedule your screening appointment.  We will offer screenings on the following dates:

Screening Site Screening Location Screening Date
Clive Media Center Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Hillside Hearth Room Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Indian Hills Library Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Crestview PreK 4 Room 1105 Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Jordan Creek Community Room Thursday, January 29, 2015
Fairmeadows Media Center Thursday, January 29, 2015
Operations Training Room Friday, January 30, 2015
Western Hills Media Center Friday, January 30, 2015
Walnut Creek Media Center Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Stilwell Media Center Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Valley High School Media Center Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Westridge Community Room Thursday, February 5, 2015
Crossroads Band/Orchestra Room Thursday, February 5, 2015
Valley Southwoods Media Center Friday, February 6, 2015
Learning Resource Center (LRC) Stilwell/Indian Hills Room Friday, February 6, 2015

For assistance with login, email support@bebetter.net or call 866-900-5325, ext 3507.

Employee Family Resource (EFR) Orientation Webinar

Employees, learn about all the great EAP services available to you and your family members, including:

  • Confidential telephone or in-person counseling
  • Legal & financial services
  • Elder care resources
  • Web resources
  • And more!

Two times are available:

January 7 from 8:30-9:00 a.m. CDT


January 7 from 12:30-1:00 p.m. CDT


You will receive log-in information after you register.

View a recorded webinar. A recorded version of the employee orientation webinar is available on our website. View the recording.

Performing Arts Center: Winter Concerts Feature Candy, Magic Flutes

The new Valley High School Performing Arts Center will come alive this month with winter concerts that news_pianoplayerfeature musical interpretations of sweet treats, magic flutes, dragons and more. These events are free and open to the public.


Fifth & Sixth Grade Orchestra Winter Concert – Tuesday, Dec. 2

The winter performances begin Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. with the annual Fifth & Sixth Grade Orchestra Winter Concert. The concert brings together 160 fifth-grade and 135 sixth-grade orchestra students from across the district to perform selections such as “Sweet Petite Winter Suite” by Brian Balmages. The suite pays tribute to favorite winter treats with its four movements — “Candy Canes,” “Hot Chocolate,” “Peppermint Bark” and “Gingerbread Man.” Students will also embark on an adventurous musical journey with the epic “Dragon Slayer” written by Rob Grice. District elementary orchestra students are under the tutelage of music instructors Jeanne Caldwell, Curtis Barr, Abby Meyer, Matthew Meyer and Anne-Marie Webster.


Valley Orchestra Fall Concert – Thursday, Dec. 4

Musical interpretations of firebirds, magic flutes and more will fill the Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. during the annual Valley Orchestra Fall Concert. This event is free and open to the public.

The evening will include the Valley Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the Overture to “The Magic Flute,” the Berceuse and Finale from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” and Mars from Holst’s “The Planets.” The Valley String Orchestra will present Andante & Allegro by Mozart and Rondeau/La Rejouissance by Mouret & Handel. The evening’s selections will also include the Bourree movement from “Water Music Suite in F” by Handel and Allegro in D for Strings by Vivaldi performed by the Valley Southwoods Orchestra.


Valley High School/Valley Southwoods Band Concert – Tuesday, Dec. 9

The Valley High School and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School  Band Departments present the 2014 Winter Concert on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines. This event is free and open to the public.

The Valley Concert Ensemble will feature Symphonic Highlights from “Frozen” by Stephen Bulla. This dramatic and exciting medley showcases the best musical moments from the hit animated movie. The ensemble will also perform the Emperata Overture by Claude T. Smith, On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss by David Holsinger and Greensleeves arranged by Alfred Reed.

The Valley Symphony Band will perform American Overture by Joseph Wilcox Jenkins, Vientos y Tangos by Michael Gandolfi and Christmas and Sousa Forever arranged by Julie Giroux.

Legends and Heroes by Pierre La Plante, Strawberry Blonde by Josh Gottry and American Folksong Suite No. 1 are just a few of the selections that the Valley Southwoods Band will feature.


Valley High School/Valley Southwoods Vocal Music Concert – Thursday, Dec. 11

Nearly 400 high school choir students will sing “Hope for Resolution” on Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines. The work by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory is a deeply moving celebration of diversity that combines divergent musical styles and illustrates our innate potential for peaceful coexistence.

Students will perform the piece during the Valley High School and Valley Southwoods Freshmen High School Choir Departments’ Winter Concert. This event is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature several works that are both energetic and reflective in nature, including pieces in French, Creole, Latin and Russian. Accompanying instruments will include soprano saxophone, timpani, djembe, piano and a string quartet.

Those attending the concert will also experience a unique performance-art collaboration between the Valley High School Concert Choir and Valley’s Functional Art class. Students will musically and visually present Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.”


Indian Hills Vocal Concert – Monday, Dec. 15

Voices of more than 325 students will fill the Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Avenue, in West Des Moines on Monday, Dec. 15 starting at 7:00 p.m. for the Indian Hills Winter Choir Concert. This event is free and open to the public.

The evening performances will feature five choirs under the direction of Cassie Carpenter.  The choirs include the:

  • 7th/8th Treble Clef Choir
  • 7th/8th Bass Clef Choir
  • 7th Grade Mixed Choir
  • 8th Grade Mixed Choir
  • Indian Hills Singers


Stilwell Eighth Grade Vocal Concert – Thursday, Dec. 18


Life in the WDMCS 11/24/14

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Elementary

Clive fourth graders attended their annual art field trip to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and Des Moines Art Center with art teacher Alecia Eggers.  It was a beautiful day to learn about color and movement in art!  Students were extremely excited to learn about our local art, and have the amazing opportunity to see some of Andy Warhol’s artwork, in person, at the latest exhibit: Silver and Suede: Halston & Warhol.

Sixth Grade students at Clive Elementary have been meeting with Officer Woods of the Windsor Heights Police Department for Code 411. Each week Officer Woods talks to the students about a variety of topics including drugs, alcohol, stealing, harassment, and law enforcement. During each class, sixth graders were expected to take notes about what they learned.  The final week culminated with the students creating PowerPoint presentations about their learning. Clive students enjoyed every week when Officer Woods was in the school. They really liked the detailed question and answer opportunity she gave them each week.

Clive Elementary would like you to consider helping a child in your neighborhood, by granting a holiday wish. Clive Family Outreach is a program designed to help our children in need. Currently there are 120 students in our program.  We have a Giving Tree in the entry way of our school with student wishes attached. If you would like to help, simply take a leaf from our bulletin board and return it attached to the item you are donating. We will be collecting holiday items in the school office located at 1600 73rd Street in Windsor Heights. Please drop off your donation by Dec. 12.If you would like further information on how you can help please contact Clive Elementary 633-5800. Thank you for making the holidays a special occasion for our students.

Crestview Elementary

Crestview fifth grader Grace Derouin, recently completed reading all 17 of this year’s Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominees.  An avid reader, Grace has a life-long love of dogs, so it’s no surprise she’d choose “Saving Zasha” by Randi Barrow (a WW2 story about a German Shepard) as her personal favorite.  Grace plans to read the sequel, “Finding Zasha,” as soon as she can.

Three more fifth graders have finished reading all 17 of the Iowa Children’s Choice award nominees.  Jasmyn Tran, Anna VanWyngarden and Natalie Thomas each chose different titles as their favorites.  Jasmyn liked “Ninth Ward” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, while Anna picked “Hold Fast” by Bue Balliett and Natalie selected “Eight Keys” by Suzanne LaFluer.  In March, all students who’ve read at least two ICCA’s may vote with students from across the state for their favorite.  Natalie, Anna and Jasmyn will be able to recommend titles to their friends since they’ve read them all now.

Crestview fifth grader Marina Mihura recently finished reading (and reporting on) all the Iowa Children’s Choice books.  She chose “Athlete vs. Mathlete” by W.C. Mack as her personal favorite.  Congratulations to you Marina, we’re proud of you!

November is a busy month in PE for students at Crestview Elementary.  The sixth grade is preparing for the district wide sixth grade volleyball tournament at Valley High School.  Crestview’s boys and girls will compete against all the other schools in the district.  The kids are very excited and hope to bring the sportsmanship trophies back to Crestview!

Also, the running club has had a fantastic start.  In just over two months, second through sixth grade students have run more than 1,200 miles and five students – third grader Avery Davenport, second grader Piper Broderick, fourth grader Elle Peterson, third grader Gaby Lombardi and third grader Ireland Broderic – have joined the 50 mile club.  Good work Crestview!

Crossroads Park Elementary

Crossroads Park sixth graders performed at the Des Moines Art Center for the annual Day of the Dead Celebration.  Omar Moreno, Blake Tighe, Margret Rachuy, Ellie Penink, and Annalyce Click told about cultural traditions of the holiday (all in Spanish!) and shared the calacas they created.  They rehearsed with Spanish teacher, Allyson Day, for about 6 weeks prior to the performance.  The students served as excellent representatives of our school.  Crossroads fifth graders created beautiful skull masks under the guidance of art teacher, Christie Engelbert, which were on display in the performance area.  They were most popular with the Art Center patrons.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Fourth grade students from Fairmeadows Elementary performed at the Des Moines Art Center for a Day of the Dead celebration.  They sang a song and talked about their paper skeletons all in Spanish.  The students that participated included Haley Munoz, Sage Boyt, Allison Honz, Katelyn Rose, Isabel Serio, Emerson Drake, Allyson Hoffa, Addyson Kastli, Gunner Schmidt, Jake White

Fifth graders at Fairmeadows Elementary honored our veterans on Veteran’s Day by putting on their annual Veteran’s Day assembly.  The scouts of pack 280 did the flag ceremony and led the pledge for the school.   The program started with essay readings about why we honor our veterans.  Students in fifth grade wrote essays and three were chosen to be read at the program.  The essay readers were Isaac Bartusek, Kelsey Erickson and Jackson Tharp.  The fifth grade then sang a patriotic song directed by music teacher, Mrs. Augspurger. Guest speaker, Dan Gannon from the Iowa Commission of Veteran Affairs, told the school how much he appreciated all of the cards the Fairmeadows students made for Veteran’s Day.  Over 500 cards were delivered around Iowa to various veteran hospitals and homes.  The program ended with a slide show, which included pictures that had been submitted by Fairmeadows students of their veteran family members.

 Hillside Elementary

The Hillside Girls Club meets every Monday after school and is open to all sixth grade girls at Hillside Elementary. In addition to attending meetings, members volunteer for Girl Club projects at school and in the community.  The Club’s goals are to increase the girls’ self confidence and self esteem, encourage them to work toward goals, and accept diversity.

Hillside’s Student Council’s focus this year is helping others and making a difference in the community they are a part of.  Each month the group concentrations on one organization that they would like Hillside to help.  Students at all grade levels rallied to support the causes. In October students collected $2,247.68 during a Penny Harvest for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Currently Hillside is supporting Food Bank of Iowa’s Combat Hunger Campaign.  More than one-thousand items have been collected in the past two weeks.  Students get to vote for their favorite Iowa college football team by placing the items they bring in the team’s collection box.  Each item is a vote of support for their team. “Student Council really wants to help the students understand that giving back is an important part of who Hillside is,” said Kayla Woodke, student council sponsor. “We want them to feel good about helping others and know that when we work together as a school we can help our community.”

Jordan Creek Elementary

The Jordan Creek Kids Care Club was named Club of the Month by its national sponsoring organization, generationOn Kids Care Clubs for its activities during Anti-Bullying Month. In October, the club participated in National Bullying Prevention Month in a variety of ways. On World Day of Bullying Prevention, they wore blue shirts in solidarity with bullying victims. In addition, club advisor Melinda Dunnwald led a discussion about respect during which club members were asked to reflect upon the meaning and importance of respectful behavior. A high school community service club was invited to participate in the discussion as well, sharing their experiences with bullying and teaching the younger students how to be caring classmates. The club then watched a video together about making a positive impact on a school through respectful words and actions. The students decided to “leave a positive footprint” on their school by painting footprints on the sidewalk that leads to the front door of the school and writing positive messages on them. They also traced their own feet on construction paper, wrote uplifting comments on them, and continued the path of positivity by hanging the footprints throughout the school building. Through their anti-bullying initiatives, the Jordan Creek Elementary KCC created partnerships with a nearby high school, and their local Home Depot donated $50 worth of project supplies. This Club’s efforts involved over 100 students and 20 adult volunteers.

Jordan Creek second grade students recently completed a unit called We the Kids.  The purpose of this unit was to understand what the U.S. Constitution is and why it is important, to understand the concept of rights and responsibilities, to understand the role of the U.S. President, and to be able to describe rights and responsibilities of a citizen.  Recently, the class took a field trip to the Iowa Capitol.  They took a guided tour of the inside of the capitol, and some students were able to spend some time with Governor Branstad.  Students learned that our state has a constitution, and we learned about our state government while there.

Circle of Friends is up and running again this year at Jordan Creek. This year we have close to 100 students and have had activities at the pumpkin patch and Science Center, along with our monthly lunch bunches. The kids have enjoyed their time together building friendships!

Westridge Elementary

Westridge second graders kicked off their Native American unit with a presentation from Mike Havlic, Naturalist, from the Boone Y Camp.The students learned what materials Native Americans use, the importance of the directions the Tee Pee faced, how nature and people work together as one, and how to actually build the Tee Pee from materials the Native Americans would find on the land. Each student was responsible for a part of the construction of the Tee Pee. Mike helped the 2nd graders learn the importance of respecting different cultures, and how we can learn from each other even though we are all the same, people of the land.

Fourth graders at Westridge Elementary had the opportunity to listen to an owl speaker from Polk County Conservation.  Students learned about different types of owls and their calls.  They also learned about the seven adaptations that owls possess and how these adaptations allow them to survive. Aden Artzer from 4A commented, “I learned barn owls are rare and snowy owls aren’t.” Ryta-Marie Foshier from 4B expressed “Owls are really unique because they have different patterns in their fur.” Fourth graders are currently learning about the skeletal system of the human body, as well as bones and muscles.  Students enjoyed comparing human bones and owl bones.

Valley Southwoods

Through the mists of time, Napoleon Bonaparte has arrived at Valley Southwoods to proclaim “Vive la France!” After a disastrous stop in Waterloo, Napoleon has made his way to West Des Moines. Students in Wade Petersen’s French I class have thus been challenged to conquer Napoleon’s beloved country of France. During a two-week unit on France, students took part in a fun team competition that allowed them to review and reinforce all the information they were learning about France. Students learned about the geography, government, culture, and economy of France and its important role in the global society. As a creative way of motivation, students competed as teams to capture as many regions of France as possible; they did this by competing group tasks and challenges against other teams based on the information they were learning. There were also hidden treasures, battle flags, and secret alliances that formed during this heated battle. At the end of the competition, the secret values of the regions were revealed, and the team with the most points won!

Valley Retirees Give Back to Students

Valley retirees Mary Kay France, Patty Jansen, Ann Mack, Vicky Poole and Linda Bergeson helped provide 15 turkeys and hams to students at Valley for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Valley retirees Mary Kay France, Patty Jansen, Ann Mack, Vicky Poole and Linda Bergeson helped provide 15 turkeys and hams to students at Valley for the Thanksgiving holiday.

A group of retirees from Valley High School have partnered with the Hy-Vee on Grand to help provide Thanksgiving turkeys and hams to students at Valley.

The Valley retirees collected donations among their peers and retired principal and current School Board member Dr. Vicky Poole along with retired teacher Kathie Lutter delivered 15 turkeys, 15 hams and 30 packages of rolls to Valley. Along with an anonymous donation of stuffing, canned vegetables and other side dishes, the group was able to provide a full Thanksgiving meal to students.

The project was organized through Valley Campus Monitor Sam Kranovich. Associate Principal Dr. Erika Cook oversees the Booster Pak program, Tiger Pride Supplies and other service initiatives at Valley.

School Board to Review Boundary Proposal

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will review the district administration’s proposal for elementary school attendance boundary changes for the 2015-16 school year at its workshop meeting Monday, Nov. 24 at 5:15 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines.

Hillside Honored for Breaking Education Barriers

news-hd-breaking-barriers-awardHillside Elementary has been honored with the Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award by the State Board of Education for its work to raise achievement among students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom. Each year, the award recognizes successful efforts to eliminate gaps in achievement among students.

Hillside Elementary was recognized for its work with English language learners (ELL), noting that the proficiency rate for Hillside’s ELL students is 70 percent in reading and math. That compares to a statewide average of 49 percent for the same group of students.

I believe this award is reflective of the hard work all of the Hillside teachers conduct with our children daily,” said Principal Dr. Robert Davis. “Our staff strives to help our students acquire a deep understanding of how the English language works.”

At Hillside, teachers are data driven. They set monthly achievement goals for all students. Then, they progress monitor every child to ensure students make the necessary growth to be proficient in reading, writing and mathematics.

“It is our teachers’ relentless focus on making sure all of our students are achieving high standards every day that has made the difference with our English Language Learners,” added Dr. Davis.

This year’s award-winners were recognized for having the highest proficiency rates statewide in math and reading among a specific subgroup of students, such as students who do not speak English as their native language and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment data from five years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school. Interviews with school principals revealed a common thread between the honored schools: the use of evidence-based practices, a staff-wide commitment, high expectations and substantial teacher collaboration.

Committee Recommends New Map to Superintendency

At its Monday, Nov. 17 meeting, the Boundary Committee voted to recommend Map C5 to the superintendency.

WDMCS Named College Board Honor Roll District

The West Des Moines Community School District is among 12 Iowa districts –just two of which are from the metro area – to be named to the College Board’s 5th Annual Honor Roll Districts. This is the second consecutive year the WDMCS has earned this honor, demonstrating equity and excellence in its Advanced Placement programming.

The AP District 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 “passing” scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully preparing and identifying motivated students who succeed in the rigorous AP course work.

The Valley AP Council, led by Associate Principal Erika Cook and social studies teacher Greg Hudson, has implemented ideas and training that have led to a 50 percent increase in enrollments over the past two years. Valley High School offers more than 20 AP courses.

“We are very proud of our students for challenging themselves with the rigorous AP curriculum,” said Dr. Erika Cook. “This would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our faculty.”

Boundary Committee Reviewing Feedback

The WDMCS Boundary Committee meets November 17 at 7 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center to review feedback from the recent public forums and survey to provide a recommendation to the district superintendency for changes to the district’s attendance boundaries.