District News

Valley Students Attend World Food Prize Institute

Grant Gustafson and Catherine Leafstedt of Valley High School were among the top students in the country selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, which drew 1,500 people from more than 65 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues.

vhs-gustafsonGustafson presented a paper on the theme “Ending Hunger In Our Lifetime: A Call to Action” and participated in roundtable discussions with experts in industry, science, academia and policy. Research for the paper focused on major issues in global agriculture, development and food security in developing countries. Participants also helped with a hands-on service project packaging meals for Outreach International, a hunger-fighting organization that serves people in Iowa and abroad, toured an Iowa farm, and took part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to experience the realities of global hunger and poverty.

vhs-leafstedtLeafstedt presented a paper on the theme “Ending Hunger In Our Lifetime: A Call to Action” and participated in roundtable discussions with experts in industry, science, academia and policy. Research for the paper focused on major issues in global agriculture, development and food security in developing countries. Participants also helped with a hands-on service project packaging meals for Outreach International, a hunger-fighting organization that serves people in Iowa and abroad, toured an Iowa farm, and took part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to experience the realities of global hunger and poverty.

The World Food Prize was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug in order to recognize and inspire great achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. This year’s World Food Prize events kicked off the beginning of a year-long anniversary celebration in honor of Dr. Borlaug’s 100th birthday that will culminate in fall 2014.

Students from across the United States and abroad researched global food security issues in the country of their choice, and then submitted papers on those critical topics, which they also presented to renowned experts and scientists.

At the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, Leafstedt and 150 other high school students had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and leaders in food, agriculture and international development.

Global Youth Institute attendees participated in symposium sessions featuring:

  • His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland;
  • His Eminence Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson of Ghana, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Holy See, The Vatican;
  • His Excellency Akinwumi A. Adesina, Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria;
  • Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Howard G. Buffett and Howard W. Buffett who announced the creation of the 40 Chances Fellows program, a partnership of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative, and The World Food Prize;
  • The CEOs of many of the world’s major agribusiness companies: DuPont, Elanco, Kemin Industries, Monsanto, Novus International and Syngenta; and
  • Researchers, non-profit leaders and smallholder farmers from around the globe.

Created by Dr. Borlaug and Iowa businessman John Ruan in 1994, the Global Youth Institute today receives major support from Clay Mathile and the Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition. The program was developed to challenge and inspire participating student-teacher teams to identify ways of alleviating hunger, and to expose the students to opportunities and careers in food, agriculture and natural resource disciplines.

At the Global Youth Institute, Leafstedt interacted with students and teachers from Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, and South Africa.

Participants also viewed the 2013 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony that honored three individuals – Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley of the United States – for their independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology. Their research is making it possible for farmers to grow crops with: improved yields; resistance to insects and disease; and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate.  Coverage of the 2013 Laureate Award Ceremony is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.

High school educators and students interested in participating should visit www.worldfoodprize.org/youth and select their state on the U.S. map, or other country link if living abroad, for information on the 2014 Global Youth Institute.

ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE:  The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Israel, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. In 1990, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist John Ruan assumed sponsorship of The Prize and established The World Food Prize Foundation, located in Des Moines, Iowa.

Life in the WDMCS 1/8/14

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
So, you don’t feel well? Are you wondering what you’ve got? Now that it’s cold and snowy and students are inside most of the time in close quarters with many others, some get sick more often. Generally, nurses see cases of the common cold (viral upper respiratory infection), influenza (the flu) or a viral illness causing gastrointestinal issues. Colds typically do not occur with a fever but occur with a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and a cough.  There’s nothing you can take to protect yourself from the typical cold.  Symptoms are sometimes managed with over the counter preparations to make you feel better. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.  The flu is commonly seen with a fever of 100-104, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose and a cough.  You can protect yourself each year by receiving an annual flu shot or the flu mist.  Once you’ve got the flu, see your doctor within two days and they may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help you get over the flu quicker. The other viral illnesses we see at schools this time of year are the illnesses that cause problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache and more.  Some people refer to these illnesses as the flu but it is actually not the flu.  Over the counter medicines may help you feel better as your body fights these illnesses. The single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and your children this winter from illness is to wash your hands and do so frequently.  Keep fingers out of places like noses, mouths, and eyes.  Get the flu shot if you still need one this year.  And of course, stay home if you are sick, especially if you or your child has a fever over 100.

Crossroads Park Elementary
Crossroads Park Elementary has some new art sculptures in its waiting area. They are a memorial to Jan Kennedy, a long-time Crossroads sixth grade teacher who passed away. The sculptures were done by an Iowa artist from Ottumwa. He created the sculptures specifically for the space and the students. Jan loved eagles, so that is the memory to her. The tree and nest are symbolic of the students starting out in the nest with our care and nurturing and then going off to soar like eagles when they leave us. He also put in some items that the kids may enjoy searching for. There is a little owl in the front of the tree, a bike chain in the back of the nest and also a railroad spike. There may be others. He treated all of the metal in a way that makes is safe to the touch. As you pass by, have a look.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Holiday sights and sounds were in abundance when the lively 23rd Street Singers went performed at Fairmeadows Village and Valley West Mall in December. Students were then greatly surprised when Santa passed out candy canes while they ate at the food court.  The 116-member group also performed along with the Fairmeadows 6th Grade Band to a packed house in the Fairmeadows gym.  Selections performed included “Showbiz Snowman,” “Winter Jubilation,” “We Wish You a Swingin’ Holiday” and “Light the Candles.”

Hillside Elementary
Hillside English as a Second Language (ESL) students in first grade had the opportunity to do some baking. They enjoyed making candy pretzels using pretzels, Hershey kisses and M&M’s. During the cooking session not only did they learn how to make a fun and easy treat, but they learned some new vocabulary that they are not exposed to every day.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Reader’s theater is a regular component of the WDMCS literacy program.  Students work together in small groups for one week on each script.  The purpose of reader’s theater is to improve fluency.  Students focus on different aspects of fluency – such as appropriate pausing, pacing and expression – with each skit.  Each group is made up of students at a variety of different reading levels providing opportunities for all readers to model their reading skills.  At the end of the week, groups perform their polished skit for their classmates.

Westridge Elementary
The Westridge Singers gave concerts in December at the West Des Moines Public Library and the Learning Resource Center. The group continues to practice every Friday morning, getting ready for its last two events of the season. On Fri., Jan. 31, the Westridge Singers will perform at Wesley Acres Retirement Center.  On Fri., Feb. 7, the chorus will present their final concert of the year in the Westridge gym at 9:30 a.m. Parents of Westridge Singers students are invited to this special performance.  Thank you for bringing your child to all those early morning rehearsals!

Stilwell Junior High
Every year, Stilwell’s Team I holds a Winter Walkathon to raise money for Toys for Tots with its annual Winter Walk-a-thon.  Students braved the very bitter cold to walk and raise money.  Along with the cash donation, new toys were also collected.  After the walk-a-thon, the top pledge-getters got to go shopping at Toys R Us. 

Valley High School/Valley Southwoods
Valley Archery competed in their first tournament this weekend at Mt. Vernon. More than 800 archers from around the state represented 27 different schools.  From West Des Moines, archery teams competed from Jordan Creek Elementary, Stilwell Junior High, Valley Southwoods and Valley High School. Jordan Creek finished in fifth place in the elementary division, their top scorer was Ryan Wirtz.  Stilwell Jr High also finished in fifth place for the middle school competition, with Mitchell O’Meara as the top archer.  The VSW and VHS combined team also finished in fifth place in the high school division, with the top archer being Sarah Kuhlman and Robby Weissinger.

Two-Hour Delay Monday, January 27

Because of severe winter weather conditions, all schools will start two hours late Monday, Jan. 27, 2014.

  • There will be no morning preschool.
  • No Westridge half-day kindergarten.
  • Full-day kindergarten will start two-hours late district wide.
  • No morning activities or early bird classes.
  • Kids West will open at 8:30 a.m.
  • Busses will pick up students two hours after their normal pick-up time.
  • Walnut Creek Campus: Full-Day Students report at 11:20 a.m.; P.M. Students report at 11:46 a.m.; A.M. Students no school

Valley Southwoods - 2 Hour Delay Schedule - 8 Period Day

1st hour:               10:20am-10:53am  (33 minutes)
2nd hour:              10:56am-11:25am  (29 minutes)
5th hour:

  • A 11:25am-11:51am  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)
  • B 11:50am-12:16pm  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)
  • C 12:15pm-12:45pm  (26 minutes + 4 minute passing period)

3rd hour:               12:45pm-1:14pm  (29 minutes)
4th hour:               1:17pm-1:46pm  (29 minutes)
6th hour:               1:49pm-2:18pm  (29 minutes)
7th hour:               2:19pm-2:48pm  (29 minutes)
8th hour:               2:51pm-3:20pm  (29 minutes)

Valley High School – Monday, January 27 Schedule

Period 1 10:20 – 10:50
Period 2 10:55 – 11:25
First Lunch:  11:25 – 11:55 Period 4:  11:55 – 12:25 Period 5:  12:30 – 1:00
Period 4:  11:30 – 12:00 Second Lunch:  12:00 – 12:30 Period 5:  12:30 – 1:00
Period 4:  11:30 – 12:00 Period 5:  12:05 – 12:35 Third Lunch:  12:35 – 1:05
Period 3 1:05 – 1:35
Period 6 1:40 – 2:10
Period 7 2:15 – 2:45
Period 8 2:50 – 3:20

Budget News: Help Us Brainstorm Cost-Cutting Ideas

Dye Named WDMCS Director of Nutrition Services

staff-willow-dyeThe West Des Moines Community Schools is proud to announce Willow Dye as is Director of Nutrition Services. The district’s Board of Education approved hiring Dye at its December 18 special meeting.

“Willow brings innovative ideas and experience with engaging students and the community in developing nutritious and delicious school meals,” said WDMCS Interim Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy. “We look forward to her joining the West Des Moines Community Schools.”

Dye had served as the Grinnell Newburg Community Schools Food Service Director for more than 10 years before heading to Iowa State University to complete her Bachelor of Science in dietetics in 2012. She was most recently the food program consultant/registered dietician at the Iowa Association for Educational Purchasing where she assisted in obtaining food and supplies while providing dietician services to Iowa school districts.

She is a member of the Iowa School Nutrition Association, where she was a district co-chair from 2011-12; the Iowa Association for Education Purchasing, where she was a region co-chair from 2010-11; and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The WDMCS food and nutrition program is a multi-faceted operation designed to meet the nutritional and educational needs of our students and staff while meeting all federal and state requirements, including those for safety and sanitation. Breakfast and lunch are available to all students at all schools. Those families who meet income guidelines may obtain applications for free or reduced-price meals at any school. The district’s current Director of Nutrition Services, Beth Hanna, will be retiring at the end of this month.

WDMCS Delayed 2 Hours

The West Des Moines Community Schools are delayed two hours Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 due to adverse  weather conditions and will dismiss at the regular time.

  • No a.m. preschool.
  • No a.m. kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten will start two-hours late.
  • Buses will pick up students two hours after their normal pick-up time.
  • Kids West is delayed two hours and will open at 8:30 a.m.
  • No a.m. activities.
  • Valley High School will start classes with third period; first and second periods are canceled. Early Bird classes are cancelled.
  • Valley Southwoods is shortening periods 1-4 and following the regular schedule for periods 5-8.
  • Stilwell is following this schedule: 1 – 9:35-10:05; 2 – 10:10-10:40; 4 – 10:45-12:10 (lunch); 3 – 12:15-12:45; 5 – 12:50-1:20; 6 – 1:25-1:55; 7 – 2:00-2:35
  • Indian Hill’s schedule is here: http://ow.ly/rXrjd.

The district will not have to make up the day at the end of the school year because it was only a delay, not a full cancellation of school. As of today, our school calendar remains the same with no additional days.

Keep Your Student Focused During Winter Break

Lori Hinton, Valley High School Social Studies Teacher
One of my favorite ways to help my children stay engaged in learning during breaks was to ask them to do some baking for me.  I always asked them to double the recipe.  This was a great way for them to practice cooperation with each other and work on math skills. An added plus, we had enough goodies to share with friends and family.  If baking happened after the holiday, their baking became New Year’s baked goods.

We always did family puzzles during the holiday break.  It was fun to bring out the new puzzle for the season and set up the two card tables, one table for the puzzle and one for the pieces.  This is a great way to support problem solving, critical thinking, fun family time and sometimes multi-generations working together and cooperating.  It was always fun to see the finished project.

Tammy Dann, Crestview Elementary Spanish Teacher
Children in WDM elementary schools have Spanish class for 30 minutes, two times a week.  Try practicing or learning Spanish with your child over break.



Anna Brown, Phenix Tiger Cubs Preschool Teacher
For our youngest learners, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website for families is a great resource for keeping learning fun and meaningful for kids!  Check out families.naeyc.org for articles about keeping kids learning throughout the holidays and some interesting insight on screen time.

Students, Teachers Honored at Belin-Blank Ceremony

Several WDMCS students were among the 470 students from Iowa and throughout the nation who were recently invited to be honored at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony. Additionally, recognized students were given the opportunity to honor a teacher they credited for having a profound influence on their lives.

Dorothy Junginger of Jordan Creek chose to honor her teacher, Deb Flagg.

Dorothy Junginger of Jordan Creek chose to honor her teacher, Deb Flagg.

Students honored were:

  • Explore Test – Carsen Codel, David Gaunt, Savannah Hunt, Kyle Juist, Dorothy Junginger, Nora King, Cynthia Quito, Alana Scherer, Darrell Smith, Ryan Staub and Radha Velamuri
  • ACT – Cayden Codel, Gabriel Mintzer and Samuel Throm
  • Blank Summer Institute – Elizabeth Ash and Marcus Chew

Teachers the students chose to honor were Ann Ellinger, Westridge; Deb Flagg, Jordan Creek; Nancy Foley, Westridge; Holly Gilmore, Hillside; V Hrdlicka, Western Hills; LuAnn Link, Stilwell; Tami Loge, Valley; Tim Miller, Stilwell; Felicia Twit, Western Hills; and Aaron Witt, Jordan Creek

Also honored at this year’s ceremony were the Iowa schools that were ranked among the Top 25 of the Iowa AP Index. The index rating was calculated by dividing the number of AP exams taken by the number of students in the school’s graduating class. Valley High School, ranked 10th, was among the Top 10 of the Iowa AP Index for the fifth consecutive year.

The Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development is an international full-service gifted education center at the University of Iowa’s College of Education.

Carson Codel of Westridge chose to honor his teacher, Ann Ellinger.

Carson Codel of Westridge chose to honor his teacher, Ann Ellinger.

Stilwell seventh graders Nora King, Savannah Hunt and Cynthia Quito were among the top scorers on the 2012 EXPLORE test, an eighth grade test given to fourth, fifth and sixth grade students as part of the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS).

Stilwell seventh graders Nora King, Savannah Hunt and Cynthia Quito were among the top scorers on the 2012 EXPLORE test, an eighth grade test given to fourth, fifth and sixth grade students as part of the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS).

Life in the WDMCS 12/16/13

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’s student council is up and running and the council members are ready to represent their peers! Every year, Clive forms a student council under the direction of teachers Nic Hoover and Cari Rothfus. Second through sixth grade students go through an application process, and this year approximately 60 students were selected to form two groups, one that will serve from September-January and one that will serve January-May. Sixth grader Hazel Johnson and fifth grader Lizzie Sweeney were voted student council president and vice president, respectively. The council meets monthly and does a variety of things like count box tops, bring up school issues and work to problem-solve them, and raise money for different causes. Already, the student council organized Backwards Day, where students and teachers could pay $1 to wear their clothes backwards with the goal to raise money to purchase games for indoor recess. Student Council is a great opportunity for students to take pride in and represent Clive Elementary. They also get to learn leadership skills and have fun with their peers.  Thank you to the student council members representing Clive, and a special thanks to Mr. Hoover and Miss Rothfus for providing this opportunity for our kids!

Fourth graders at Clive Elementary are learning how to name and identify the bones of the human skeleton through hands on experience dissecting owl pellets, building skeletal models, and interactive learning on the computer and iPad.  Students will be able to identify the importance of the skeletal structure and categorize purposes for each human body system by the end of the unit.  Students enjoy seeing and experiencing learning through pictures, activities, and movement to learn about how the systems interact together.

Crestview Elementary
Crestview Elementary welcomed artists Pam Dennis and Ryk Weiss this fall to create a collaborative outdoor sculpture.  This monumental project included the artwork of each of Crestview’s 563 students.  Preschool through sixth grade students, as well as some staff members, made small clay pieces related to nature and the core curriculum.  Students created leaves, insects, spiders, snails, prairie flowers, pebbles and even small animals.  The residency began in September with students forming their pieces out of terra cotta clay and tooling metal under the instruction of Pam and Ryk during their art class.   Each of the 1500+ pieces were fired in the kiln and posts were set in preparation for the assembly and installation step of the project.   This week fourth through sixth graders came back into the art room to help Pam and Ryk wire the clay pieces onto the tree form.  On Wednesday, the sculpture was finally installed!  This sculpture is a shining example of what can be accomplished by working together as a team, it’s a piece that students and the community will take pride in for years to come.

Crestview Elementary sixth graders won the sportsmanship awards at the WDMCS Volleyball Tournament. This is an annual event for sixth graders throughout the district. Both boys and girls won the sportsmanship trophies for the second year! We are so proud of this recognition for our sixth graders. In addition, the boys took third place.

Crestview sixth grader Gywn Chilcoat recently finished reading and reporting on all 25 Iowa Children’s Choice nominees for the 2013-14 school year.  She had several favorites – The Unwanteds, A Long Walk to Water and Because of Mr. Terupt.  An active member of the Roaring Readers Book Club, Gwyn enjoys reading and discussing what she’s read with others.  Congratulations to you Gywn, you RocK!

Crossroads Park Elementary
The Crossroads Park band students participated in the Northside sixth grade band winter concert tour. They performed two morning concerts for Crossroads Park and Westridge students and teachers as well as an evening concert at Crossroads Park. A variety of music was shared with the audience including some holiday songs, an armed forces medley, a song about storms and a traditional rock song. The Crossroads Park fifth and sixth grade teachers added to the enthusiasm by playing some auxiliary percussion instruments on a couple of the songs. There were also several Crossroads Park staff members who dusted off their band instruments and joined in on “Jingle Bell Rock.” The Crossroads Park band students look forward to beginning new songs in January to prepare for the  spring concert.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Fourth graders from Fairmeadows Elementary went to the Iowa Dance Theater’s performance of The Nutcracker Ballet at the Des Moines Civic Center.  Fourth graders study Russia, its customs, geography and culture, with special emphasis in music on Peter Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker.  The students learned many ballet terms and tried out some moves in class to understand just how difficult and physical ballet dancing can be.  They were thrilled to see a Fairmeadows friend on stage when Sarah Dorn appeared as a soldier dressed in white.  We give special thanks to Connecting Kids to Culture for funding the admission and transportation to this amazing event.

Hillside Elementary
Hillside first graders are just beginning a Science unit on matter.  They are learning about solids, liquids and gasses through fun hands on experiments.  Last week they gathered a variety of objects to place in a large tub of water to determine what kinds of things sink or float.  This week they will continue to learn about matter through a “liquid race” in which they will see what kinds of liquids move faster.  Hillside first grade students are excited to learn more about what “matters.”

Third grade Hillside students have been learning new concepts and academic vocabulary related to the concept of transformation through a variety of experiences in a multitude of content areas. The unit on transformation that students have been encountering is a part of the researched-based Artful Learning model that Hillside embraces in order to provide students with deep understandings and rich experiences to aide in their learning.  Third graders have studied and explored the masterwork “Sun Set Sail” by Rob Gonsalves, in addition to researching and learning about the artist himself.  Musical compositions that included a variety of dramatic changes have been listened to, analyzed, and evaluated critically by students.  The children then created their own piece of art by responding to changes in music by demonstrating change of color and line style in their work.  During this transformation unit, the solar system has also been explored with students creating a written piece that explains the transformation from day to night.  Students will also be creating a three-dimensional piece of art to represent a planet based on their own research.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek sixth graders visited JA BizTown where students were all interviewed and placed in jobs at the Junior Achievement city.   Elections were held in the days before students went to the city.  The first group’s mayor was Landon Denker and the district attorney was Blake Morrow.  The second day’s mayor was Maggie Hall and the district attorney was Braden Wallace. There were 11 CEO’s and CFO’s running the stores each day.  Students learned what it is like to be in the real world with a real job.  They had to budget their time and money while balancing their checkbooks with each entry.  Employees had to be paid and business loans repaid.  Students have to advertise to get customers in their shops.  They had to practice excellent social skills to demonstrate excellent customer service.  Students were able to publish a magazine each day with events of the day, articles about the world, letters to the editor, advertisements and more. All in all, the days were both very successful with many lessons learned.

Phenix Elementary
Third graders from Phenix Elementary work with the West Des Moines Optimists throughout the year.  In November they made baskets filled with “goodies” to take to Fountain West Care Center.  The students helped deliver them, sang songs to the residents, and then were treated by the Optimists to lunch at McDonalds.  They will also work on a craft in December to take to Blank Children’s hospital.  This community service project helps students realize the joy of giving to others.

Western Hills Elementary
The Western Hills Kids Care Club, a volunteer club of more than 120 kindergarten through sixth graders, was chosen to be a GenerationOn Joy Ambassador.  This honor is given to 100 organizations and individuals (two from each state) each year by GenerationOn and Hasbro.  The Western Hills Kids Care Club was selected based off of “the amazing things they have been doing to make a mark on the world through volunteer action.”  As Joy Ambassadors, the club was given 100 brand new toys from Hasbro and a $100 gift card to use towards a special holiday service project.  Kids Care used the toys and money towards their annual Winter Wishes project.  For five years, Western Hills has organized a holiday gift giving project that buys presents, gifts, and necessities for families in need.  Last year they raised over $2,000 and were able to purchase gifts for more than 40 children.  This year their goal is to give the donated Hasbro toys, as well as other gifts, to 15 families.  The Western Hills Kids Care Club meets every Friday morning before school to help local organizations by giving their time, talents, and passion to meet the community’s needs.

Westridge Elementary
A freshly baked gingerbread man escaped from the Westridge kindergartners!  While baking in the oven the Gingerbread Man was left unattended.  Upon returning to the oven to retrieve the Gingerbread Man, the students discovered his escape!  He is approximately 12 inches tall and has red hot buttons.  If you see
him please contact the kindergarten students at Westridge Elementary.

Stilwell Junior High
Stilwell’s Team I students took a day to learn about and celebrate Iowa.  Students toured the Hall of Pride and participated in a lot of fun-filled and informative activities.  The students then walked the downtown Skywalk system and journeyed to Kaleidoscope at the Hub for lunch.  The students headed back to Stilwell to watch the movie Field of Dreams, filmed in Iowa.  The day ended with celebrations of Team I’s own success stories by focusing on those with outstanding participation in school activities and applauding those students who made the team A and B Honor Rolls. Students receiving Academic Recognition for their school work on the Team I were Rachel Aksamit, Viridiana Alba, Vivian Alba, Maria Barbosa, Maggie Baughman, Colton Bauman, Jedeh Bohn, David Bone, Tyler Bruinekool, Michael Bryan, Angela Cary,  Logan Castle, Natalie Cela-Quito, Emma Cochran, Kaleb Dale, Chas Dekovic, Preston Doerrfeld, Chloe Dreyer,  Charlie Ebensberger, Cooper Earle, Alisson Espinoza, Bethany Evans, Will Fajen, Drew Falco, Ashley Farwell. Sydney Fisher, Ruby Fultz,  Adamarys Gamboa,  Austin Graff, J. LeAnn Grandia, Isabella Giudicessi, Kelcie Hale, Troy Hall, Tyler Hammen,  Emma Haupert,  Deja Haynes, Kade Hatcher, Matthew Hsieh,  Sam Ingoli,  Rula Issa,  Kameron Jilak, Nick Johnson, Jared Jones, J. J. Kapur, Mia Klaric, Kyle Koeller, Brenna Kokichi-Williamson, Kayla Laufenberg, Spencer Laufenberg, Grayson Leaders, Grace Lincoln, Joey McNunn, Luke Matney, Sarah Miksch, Jackson Miller,  Susanna Moore,  Hannah Olson, Alex Peterson, Riley Plummer, Sarah Ramsey,  Katie Reha, Katherine Reza, Marissa Rethman, McKenna Roche, Ali Rudolf,  Connor Russo, Noah Samples, Devin Sams, Abigail Scott, Bret Sorensen, Ryan Starner, Hannah Taylor, Devon Tedder, Jack Tellner, Diane Thompson, Elliot Thornton,  Kevin Travis, Nash Willham, Carly Wyble, Jennifer Yanqui and Eloysa Zarate

“Don’t throw in the towel, use it to wipe the sweat off of your face!” This quote truly signifies the season for the girls’ basketball  A-team at Stilwell Junior High.  Reflecting back, the wins and losses have nothing to do with the true outcome of this season.  The amount of hard work, effort and positive attitude this group of student-athletes demonstrated on a regular basis is reflected in the tremendous growth and improvement that transpired.  The upshot was a team that improved both academically and athletically.  Along with these new skills and sense of accomplishment, new friendships evolved.  I cannot fully express in words how proud I am of the great season these young ladies had.  Best of luck in everything you do for years to come!  ~Coach Davis

Valley Southwoods
At the Millard West debate tournament in Omaha, Neb., the team as a whole placed second in the Team Sweepstakes. Individual accomplishments were many, topped off by ninth-graders Alex Carther and Meta Miller, who won the novice policy debate. In varsity policy, two Valley teams were in quarterfinals. They were team of junior Rishi Shah and sophomore Danielle Reyes, as well as the team of juniors Sam Basler and Nolan Dahm. Rishi Shah was also the top speaker in varsity policy, while Alex Carther was the top speaker in novice policy. In Public Forum debate, all five Valley teams advanced to elimination rounds. Finishing in octofinals (top 16) were the teams of juniors Lexi Takla and Tanner Barkley; sophomore Angelina Mullican and junior Erin Nubel Gabe Butler-Klein and Ashton Woiwood; and sophomores Manuel Smith and Alec Frazier. And the team of junior Grady Stein and senior Carolyn Hoemann was in quarterfinals. In varsity LD, freshman Evan McKinney advanced to semifinals. And in novice LD debate, freshman Brian Gu advanced to quarterfinals while freshman Siena Cabbage was in octofinals (top 16).

Saturday was the Iowa Grades Chess Championship. Valley Southwoods’ students took both first and second place among the state’s ninth graders at the Iowa Grades Chess Championship. Sam Cole went undefeated in 4 games to secure the state title and Danielle Roth earned 2nd place. Go Tigers!

Valley High School
Bon voyage!  Valley High School French students traveled to Chicago in September to participate in French language and cultural activities at the Alliance Francaise.  They also visited the Chicago Art Institute’s collection of Impressionist art and the Field Museum of Natural History’s traveling exhibit on the Lascaux Cave Paintings of southern France.

Valley High School crowned its Chili Champions during the meat unit in the Foods 1 classes. In groups of four, the students decide what recipe they want to use for the cookoff and bring their own ingredients. They get one block period to make their chili. Valley staff volunteer to sample and judge the chili and crown a champion for each of the eight class sections. Judges determine the winner based on appearance, arouma and flavor. Winners were Courtney Mottet’s first hour class – Matt Guske, Ronnie Hockensmith, Jenna Olander and Nick Marshall; Carmen Clark’s first hour class – Lola Phillips, Megan Cushing, Bryant Ramirez and Basma Hashim; Carmen Clark’s second hour class – Tina Eldridge, Anissa Valladares, Baishali Bhatia and Hannah Slusinski; Carmen Clark’s fifth hour class – Sammie Bullington, Kendra Siebenahler, Lauren Hendrix and Amanda Daley; Carmen Clark’s sixth hour class – Natalie Markham, Madison Kramer, Breanna Nickell and Jayda Simmons; Carmen Clark’s eighth hour class – Isaaca Carter, Celeste Meyer and Adel Jelacic; Kelli King’s third hour class had a tie – Cassandra Rudolf, Jessi Landskron-Farrington, Emily Wright and Ariadna Morales, and  Anna Marie McAuliff, Mira Metelman, Rylee Davenport and Carlo Maina; Kelli King’s fourth hour class – Dominic Williams, Zain Dickinson, Michael McIntosh and Chiara Guggiari.

Budget News – Dec. 16

Budget Logo


As reported in the last Informaline, early financial estimates show the district must reduce approximately $3 million from the general fund each year for the next two years. The district is using a process called Tregoe to make cost-cutting decisions.

The process uses a step-by-step approach to set objectives, organize and prioritize information, evaluate options and understand the impact of possible choices. The first step was to identify how much money needs to be cut. The second step was to develop the criteria to be used to evaluate suggested cost cutting ideas. The district administration has developed the criteria with input from several groups, including:

  • Parent representatives from each school who are members of the School Community Network
  • Teacher representatives who are members of the West Des Moines Education Association
  • Staff representatives who are members of the West Des Moines Educational Support Personnel Association
  • Building principals
  • District administrators
  • School Board

Evaluation Criteria



District administrators, building principals and employee union representatives recently began developing ideas for possible budget cutting options in an effort to reduce spending in the district’s general fund next year by $3 million.

Building principals and district administrators met on Dec. 5 to begin developing options. The employee unions—West Des Moines Education Association and the West Des Moines Educational Support Personnel Association—were also asked to provide ideas. Suggested options will also be requested from Superintendent Advisory Committees, which include School Board members.

Next, the Business Services Department will document costs associated to the proposed options. In January, the building principals and district administrators will then score each option against a set of evaluation criteria.

You can also be involved.

Parents will be invited in February/March to provide feedback on the proposed cost cutting package before it is submitted to the School Board in March.

More on School Finance


The district can stop spending money on renovating buildings, such as Valley or the Learning Resource Center, to help its budget situation.

Building projects are paid for with money from sales tax revenue. Iowa law does not allow school districts to use sales tax money to pay for salaries or academic programs. Sales tax funds can only be used to renovate buildings or build new ones.