District News

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

Hillside Students Judge Valley Junction Art Show

HS_VJ Art Show_6Gabriel Pruneda closely studied a pencil drawing by artist Larry Hartfield at the Valley Junction Fall Art & Upcycle Market held September 14.

“I really like the detail,” said Pruneda.

Talking about art is nothing new to Pruneda, who is a sixth grader at Hillside Elementary. Hillside is an Artful Learning School, which infuses the study of art throughout its curriculum.

Serving as an official art critic was a new adventure for him and five other students, who were judges of this year’s Valley Junction Fall Art & Upcycle Market in West Des Moines. The students included Pruneda, Ian Gaunt, Brandi Barr and Morgan Hunt from Hillside and Hillside graduate and current Stilwell Junior High student David Gaunt.

The students gathered late Sunday morning for instructions from their art teacher, Pam Ballard, and began their journey through 70 booths featuring paintings, prints, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, upcycled items and more. Artists from four states were selected by a jury to participate in the event.

This was the first year the organizers had students select winners of the market. “Hillside is part of the Valley HS_VJ Art Show_12Junction neighborhood and, as an Artful Learning school, its students are sophisticated students of the arts. I felt having them as judges would not only be a way to support current artists, but also help nurture future ones,” said Jim Miller, director of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation.

Ballard said the experience was a rich learning opportunity because the students were able to spend time talking with the artists about their techniques, style and medium, as well as the thought-process behind their work. Ballard said her sixth-grade students not only study various artists, theories and styles, they learn the vocabulary of art and role-play as gallery owners, curating and discussing artwork.

Besides walking through the long row of booths, the students agreed the most difficult part of the day was selecting the final winners. “It was hard,” said sixth grader Morgan Hunt. “There are so many artists.” After a long discussion and review of their notes, the students chose artist Mary Smith’s upcycled jewelry as Best of Show. Larry Hartfield won Best 2D, Rose Rutherford won Best 3D, and Merit Awards went to Reiko Cunningham, James Bearden, Drew Otto and Lindsey Calvert.

The best part of the day was talking with the artists about their work. “There are so many different cool art styles,” said sixth grader Brandi Barr, who wants to continue to learn about art and, possibly, be an artist one day.

Valley Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Valley High School seniors Hannah Anderson, Julia Anderson, Keaton Denker, Lawrence Feng, Elsa Klein, Sunita Kolareth, Lauren Pfeil, Ojas Pradhan, Rishi Shah, William Sipfle, Ryan Thompson and Arun Velamuri have been named National Merit Scholar Semifinalists.

These students will be in competition with students nationwide to become a National Merit Scholar, earning a $2,500 scholarship. Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program. Academic records, school curriculum, test scores, an administrative recommendation, information about activities and leadership as well as an essay are used in the judging process.

Finalists will be announced in February and students will be notified in June if they have been selected as a National Merit Scholar.

Information for Parents & Students on Virus Causing Illness in Iowa

Washing HandsYou may have seen news stories about cases of a respiratory virus called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) making people ill in some Midwest states, including Iowa. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Enteroviruses are common viruses that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, usually in the summer and fall.


To help keep our students healthy, we are encouraging students to:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.


The West Des Moines Community Schools will continue to clean classrooms and disinfect doorknobs and light switches daily. In addition, some staff are regularly disinfecting toys, desks, and chairs.


The following is additional information from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

  • EV-D68 often begins like a cold and symptoms include coughing and wheezing; most people will recover at home without complications. However, some people with severe respiratory caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy.
  • Infants, children, and teenagers, especially those with a history of asthma or those who have a condition that compromises their immune system, are most likely to become severely ill.
  • Parents of children with cold-like symptoms that experience difficulty breathing should contact their health care provider.
  • Enteroviruses, including EV-D68, are not a reportable disease in Iowa or the U.S.; therefore, the number of cases of the virus is not tracked.
  • There are currently no medications available for treatment for EV-D68 infections and there is no vaccine available for the virus. Most infections resolve on their own and require only treatment at home.


For concerns or questions about your child’s health, please contact your health care provider.

Life in the WDMCS 9/8/14

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.

Crestview Elementary

Parents make a difference! The way parents can contribute most to their children’s education is through what they do at home. These are some ways in which parents can proactively help children to succeed at school:

  • Have high expectations for your children. Let them know that you think it is important that they do well in school. High parental expectations have the greatest impact on student achievement. When parents consistently express belief in their children’s potential and tell their kids that they expect them to succeed academically, students do better.
  • Talk about school. Talk with your children about what’s happening at school – activities, programs, and what they are learning.
  • Help your children develop a positive attitude and good work habits. Focus on helping them handle distractions and crises of confidence, praise them for effort and persistence and demonstrate a positive attitude about school as a whole.
  • Read together!
  • Parent involvement in school activities: parent involvement in school activities can foster a sense of community within the school. It can build stronger relationships between teachers and parents, and provide an opportunity for parents to connect with and support each other.

Fairmeadows Elementary

The Fairmeadows Elementary music room has really been rockin’ to the beat with African drumming circles.  This is a hands-on activity made possible by the West Des Moines School District’s purchase of 17 African drums plus additional auxiliary percussion instruments.  These drums are being used for approximately three weeks at Fairmeadows Elementary and then travel throughout the district for use by each of our elementary schools.  The students experience playing polyrhythms as well as demonstrating rhythmic knowledge and abilities while having a great cooperative musical experience.

 Hillside Elementary

Second graders at Hillside Elementary know the importance of making great choices.  Kayla Woodke’s class started the year of right and quicklyearned their first class reward for good behavior, a class Pajama Day.  Students brought their favorite stuffed animals and wore fun pajamas all day.  Woodke said the class decides as a group what the reward will be by voting on several options.  She is proud of her students.  “Tigers always do their best,” Woodke said of her class.

Hillside sixth graders spent the first few days back at school reacquainting with their classmates, adjusting to the routines and meeting new friends.  Students spent time reviewing the PBIS expectations that will lead to a successful and fun school year.  Many ice-breaker games and activities were completed in order for teachers to get to know their students and for the new faces at Hillside to get comfortable.  In sixth grade, every student is a part of the puzzle.  They created puzzle pieces and they had to work together to put the puzzle together.  Students are excited to have the opportunity to switch classes and have a different teacher during the day and the time to play with their friends in other classes at lunch and recess.  Some of the events they are looking forward to the most this year are the sixth grade volleyball tournament, track meet, JA Biztown, Code 411 and dissecting cow eyes in science class. Sixth graders at Hillside will focus on working interdependently in a community, understanding others’ perspectives and how they impact relationships, and what they want their legacy to be.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Meals from the Heartland holds its signature event, the Annual Hunger Fight, each year in late August.  Jordan Creek third graders were lucky enough to be able to participate in this event. The Annual Hunger Fight has grown to be the largest volunteer meal packaging event of its type in the United States, as well as the world.  During the 2013 event 15,000 volunteers packaged 5,171,000 meals. Jordan Creek students were ready to help top that number! During their time volunteering, the students and parents filled bags that would feed up to six people. The meal package included rice, soy protein, vitamins, minerals and dried vegetables. They also had to use their math skills to perfectly weigh the bags, seal them and count them out before boxing them up. Jordan Creek students left feeling blessed to be part of such a wonderful event.