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Help Stop the Spread of the Flu

Washing Hands

Reports of the flu are on the rise statewide as West Des Moines Community School District students return to class this week. Parents and caregivers are being reminded of the warning signs of influenza in children and precautions that will help keep the virus from spreading at school and also at home.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports that the number of cases in Iowa has increased since students left for winter break. The flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May.

Our school nurses are staying updated about this season’s illness and are monitoring reports. They are available to help your child if he or she becomes ill at school. Nurses will notify you if your child needs to be released from school.

Teachers and staff members also help prevent the spread of illness by teaching and reminding students about good hand-washing and cough-hygiene practices. You can help us by reinforcing these practices at home. These include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

In addition, our custodial staff disinfects phones, doorknobs and light switches daily.

Knowing the signs of the flu – or influenza – is important. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

If your child does become ill, the Iowa Department of Public Health recommends that you should consult your child’s doctor and children should stay home from school. Children should be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the help of fever-reducing medicines before returning to school.

Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications. However, some cases may become severe. Emergency warning signs that children need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Working together, we can help keep students healthy and ready to learn. Below is additional information and resources about the flu that may be helpful.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school nurse or building principals.

Parent Resources:

Key Facts About Seasonal Flu (CDC)
Influenza – Frequently Asked Questions (IDPH)
The Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick (CDC)
Flu Guide for Parents (CDC)


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Students enjoy holiday baking

Hillside first-grade ELL students did some baking. They enjoyed making candy pretzels using pretzels, Hershey kisses and M&Ms. 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.


Hillside Honored Breaking Education Barriers


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 Ani-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!

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Hillside Graduates Return to Entertain

The Stillwell Junior High Orchestra made Hillside the first stop on the Elementary school tour.  The concert included several students who had graduated from Hillside and were excited to return to perform for former teacher and other students.  Students  enjoyed the music and got a glimpse of what it would be like to a part of the Orchestra when they reach Stillwell.


Hillside Students Make a Difference in Community

Together We Can Make a Difference

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.


Hillside Student Council presents check from their Penny Harvest to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In October students collected $2247.68 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.” Students will continue their service projects in December where they will be giving their time and talents to Blanks Children’s Hospital.  Student Council members are making tie blankets and students throughout the school are decorating birthday bags to brighten the lives of children who are in the hospital during this holiday season.


Hillside Students’ Art Part of New Community Displays

Congratulations to the following Hillside artists for having their artwork selected for a gallery show at Barnes and Nobles store on University. We are really excited for the opportunity to have such a wonderful public display opportunity! The show shall be on display until December. Kindergarten artists: art work in children’s section upper level. Athena Arbs, Rami Atchinson, Peyton Boat, Barrett Braun, Hannah Courtney, Cole Friedrichs, Jazla Jalali, Jose Loera Ramirez, Ethan Kendrick, Madison Kenwabikise, Anna Nong, Gabriela Pimental Berber, Miles Purvis, Scarlett Ramirez Gonzales, Lhotse Samuelson, Peter Schellenberger, Brayden Schoeberl, Landon Van Dyke, Olivia Welch, Owen Woods. 6th grade artists: artwork in café. Madison Allen, Brandi Barr, Colby Burke, Cayden Claiser, Bobby Cobine, Reagan Demmon, Leslie Dominguez, Sean Eddy, Hannah Felsen,Callie Gillespie,  Lauren Gilmore, Umer Iman, Ashlyn Laybon, Maria Morquecho-Ruiz, Maisy O’Hern, Jessica Paulus, Mia Rand, Nathan Sawyer,  Brandon Stubbs, Kobe Tanchinh, Merideth Young. Special recognition to the following Hillside students for having artwork chosen to be a part of a grand opening display at the new Valley High School Performing Arts Auditorium. : Noemy Berber, Kauai Cua, Yadira Dominguez, Jaelynn George, Brody Krysa, Norah Shires.


Hillside Honored for Breaking Education Barriers

Hillside 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 news-hd-breaking-barriers-awardsuccessful 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.


Boundary Committee Recommends New Map to Superintendency

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

Based on feedback from three public forums and an online survey, the superintendency developed two additional options – C4 and C5 – for the committee to review.

Map Options

The committee also recommended maintaining the current timeline to bring a proposal to the School Board on Monday, Nov. 24 and a final decision on Monday, Dec. 8.



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Boundary Committee Meets October 21

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