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Life in the WDMCS 10/29/12

Life in the WDMCS is a new 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.

Phenix Elementary
Phenix Elementary Early Childhood Center hosted Fall Math Night.  Dinner, games and activities were provided to help parents and children learn about different activities that can be done outside of the classroom to strengthen math skills.  Staff enjoyed answering questions about the Phenix Everyday Math program and giving out free backpacks of school supplies to the students.  The technology station was a big hit, showing parents how students use iPads, laptops and computers in their learning.  Parents were also pleased to learn simple strategies that can help their child succeed both in and out of the classroom.  The night focused on the Phenix school goal: to build healthy minds and bodies!

Westridge Elementary
Westridge Elementary held its first Chess Club meeting October 22.  The Chess Club had over 100 participants and is held on Mondays from 8-8:45 a.m.  The kids of Westridge enjoy the friendly competition, and the way that playing chess challenges their critical thinking skills. 

Indian Hills Junior High
The second annual bike donation day kicked off to a cool drizzly day.  However, 78 complete bikes and a few partial bikes were donated.  It took two trips to bring all of the bikes to the Des Moines Bike Collective.  The bike collective said that our donation day was the best they have had this year.

Stilwell Junior High
Tickets for Stilwell’s fall play, Keeper of the Tales: 1001 Arabian Nights, are now on sale in the main office. Tickets are $5. The show runs November 9-10 at 7 p.m. and November 11 at 1 p.m. The cast and crew of 185 seventh and eighth grade students would love you to join them for a trip back in time, to a  faraway place. Children are welcome! We hope to see you there!

Congratulations to the following Stilwell students who were named to the Opus Honor Choir: Dominic Cravero, Aidan Morrow, Mara Akers, Danielle Nicholls.

Stilwell drama students performed storytelling at several locations as part of the vocal unit. Classes visited Kingdom Kids Academy, Fairmeadows Elementary, Apple Tree Children’s Center and Shepherd of the Valley preschool. Each drama student prepared a children’s book to be performed  focusing on memorization, voice, gestures, character and included props and costumes.

Valley Southwoods
Students from Valley Southwoods and Valley High School participated as mentors for Rock In Prevention. Forty mentors worked with students in a creative and inter-active program using music and the arts to reach the hearts and minds of Jordan Creek Elementary students. Mentors modeled how to have healthy relationships with each other and to stand up to bullies. While working with the students, the mentors exemplified respect and responsibility and modeled how the younger students can grow up and be successful like them in school, in extra-curricular activities and in life.

Please join us for the next PTO meeting on Friday, November 2 at noon in the community room at the Learning Resource Center. Valley High School counselor, Eric Traynor, will discuss planning for college, including: college web sites, high school course planning, standardized testing info, college choices-public vs private and in-state vs. out-of-state, college visits, college applications and resources for financial aid. Please bring your own lunch and join us for this informative hour.

Southwoods students have a chance to show others they care and to clean out their house at the same time. Student government will be collecting coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, snow boots and snow pants for the Winter Warmth Drive 2012 (October 29-Nov 9). Please note that we are only collecting the items listed. Items will go to 11 area elementary schools and three foundations in need of winter clothing.

Valley High School
The Valley High School Competition Cheer Squad will defend its 4A large squad state title for the sixth consecutive year on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Jacobsen Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  Performance time is scheduled for  5:27 p.m.   On Thursday, Nov. 1 the squad will hold a dress rehearsal at Valley Southwoods at 6 p.m.  Admission at the dress rehearsal is free and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.  There will be a limited number of cheer t-shirts and merchandise for sale, as well as a donation basket for the squad. All funds raised will be put toward expenses for the squad’s national competition with takes place in January in Dallas, Texas.

Clive Elementary
The 2012-13 Clive Elementary Digikids are off and running!  Digikids is an after school enrichment program that provides students an opportunity to learn more about digital photography.   Students get hands on experience with computer programs, including Photo Shop Elements, Windows Movie Maker and Power Point, while preserving school memories through the use of digital photography and video clips. Micah Rayner, Title 1 math teacher, has coordinated the Digikids program at Clive Elementary for the past eight years.  Students interested in being involved in the Digikids program are asked to submit an application.  The group meets after school every Wednesday and works throughout the school year to help to improve the school climate by providing digital recognition for students and staff.  This year, the Digikids will also help out the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program by taking pictures of students that reach the goal of earning 40 Tiger Pride tickets.  Clive’s Digikids also plan to add video producing to their skill set this year.  They will work in conjunction with the PBIS team to produce videos that support behavior expectations in various school environments.  Misty Zahrt, resource teacher, will also help out with the program this year.  The addition of another instructor allows for an increased number of kids to participate in Digikids.  This year 27 students, in grades 3-6, are participating in the enrichment program. Garrison Fischer, a fifth grader, is just starting his second year in the Digikids program.  When asked what he would tell younger students about the program, Fischer said, “It’s really fun.  You get to hang out and learn about how to use cameras and computers.”  Fischer said being a part of the Digikids program has also helped him improve in the classroom.  “When we do stories in writing, I am better at using Power Point,” said Fischer.

Crestview Elementary
Crestview Elementary fifth grader Isabel Thomas is the first student at her school to read and report all 21 Iowa Children’s Choice books. Isabel read most of them in the magnolia tree in her front yard.  She enjoys recommending books to others as she finishes them on the on-line school catalogue by recommending these books and writing short reviews.  Her favorite ICCA book is The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn.  Congratulations Isabel and to her teacher, Mrs. Leighton.

Crossroads Park Elementary
Painted Lady Butterflies will be seen in abundance on the Crossroads Park playground. First grade students released the butterflies they had carefully raised this fall. Tiny caterpillars arrived from California at the beginning of an insect unit. As scientists, the class readied the butterfly homes with nutrient in a vile. They carefully observed them as they grew and changed. After 7- 10 days, the chrysalides were formed and they transferred them to a large classroom butterfly pavilion. Butterflies hatched 7- 10 days later. It was fascinating to watch as they emerged from their chrysalides. Students provided their butterflies with a feast of nectar from flowers and orange slices. First graders enjoyed the butterflies fluttering in the classroom for a few days before they were released by the trees on the Crossroads Park playground. With the cool weather, the butterflies could be laying eggs for the cycle to begin again.

Second graders at Crossroads Park have been studying about Native Americans in social studies to help students develop an understanding of Native American cultures from different parts of the United States.  The four tribes that they studied are Plains-Sioux, Northeast-Iroquois, Northwest-Tlingit and the Southwest-Navajo. They will compare and contrast these tribes and their regions to our lives and region. Mike Havlik, a naturalist and outdoor education program director  from the Des Moines YMCA, visited each of the second grade classes and helped them set up a 14-foot Plains-style tipi. The class will focused on ethics and how we treat the natural world and each other. They discussed materials used in tipi construction, physics behind its structure and history of the people who use this dwelling. Mike also showed the children some Native American games and teach them how to play these games. The class also read the book “Brother Eagle Sister Sky” by Chief Seattle. In this book, a Suquamish Indian chief describes his people’s respect and love for the earth, and concern for its destruction. The event was paid for with funds from Kids and Culture, a program which gives money to schools for children to experience a cultural event.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Second grade students at Fairmeadows Elementary had a visitor from the Polk County Conservation Department. Heidi Anderson stopped in to share a fact filled presentation about space. The second graders had been talking about space in class for the week and Anderson helped the students to learn more about the planets and model their formation in outer space.

Hillside Elementary
Hillside Elementary will hold a celebration called Hillside’s Journey with Hope on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. at Lutheran Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines. The purpose of the event is to thank the church, which housed the school for the first few months of the school year, and to share what students have learned through the relocation process. The theme of their relocation study was The Hero’s Journey. Student presentations on Tuesday will follow the theme of this journey from Another World to Tests and Ordeals. Students will present artwork created over the past few months as well as performances by the orchestra and student singers. The celebration will focus on the arts as Hillside is an Artful Learning school, a learning program inspired by the teachings of Leonard Bernstein. Hillside educators are trained in this arts-based curriculum strategy, and the school fosters the love of lifelong learning through the gateway of the arts.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek celebrated National Character Counts Week/Anti-Bullying Week/Red Ribbon Week the week of October 22-26. The students participated in many activities to celebrate this week. On Monday, students from kindergarten through sixth grade participated in a Rock-in-Prevention-Anti-Bullying assembly. Over 40 students from Valley Southwoods and Valley High School spent the day as mentors helping the elementary students role play, dance and sing songs to reinforce the anti-bullying message. CDs with anti-bullying songs and follow-up anti-bullying family activities were sent home.