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Life in the WDMCS 3/25/13

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.

Jordan Creek Elementary The Jordan Creek Parent Club partnered with the school to sponsored an exciting Day of Science for the fifth and sixth grade students.  Students engaged in exciting hands on activities which included building air power rockets, catapults, super slime, and much more.  Josh Denhart, a former Valley chemistry teacher,  put on his Amazing Chemistry Show.

Drew Henderson, a third grader at Jordan Creek Elementary, was recently chosen as a Kid of Character at Jordan Creek’s all school Character Counts assembly that focused on the character pillar of responsibility.  Kelly McQueen, of State Savings Bank, presented Drew with a Kid of Character award, and a savings certificate to State Savings Bank.

In sixth grade at Jordan Creek, students have been learning new and exciting topics and are now learning algebra in math, food and nutrition in science, persuasive essays in language arts and studying government in social studies.  Once a week they have Code 411 where they talk about drugs, alcohol, vandalism, tobacco, smoking etc.  Code 411 has been an awesome experience for students. As you can see we have been very busy the past couple months learning new things.

Western Hills Elementary Western Hills fifth graders went on a field trip to the Iowa State Capitol and the Iowa Hall of Pride.  The field trip was a culmination of a unit study on democracy.  Students had the opportunity to have an intensive tour of the capitol as well as being able to climb to the dome.  They were able to see the House of Representatives working and were able to meet Representative Chris Hagenow on the floor of the House.  At the Iowa Hall of Pride, interactive, hands-on activities engaged the students keeping them busy.  The day ended with a visit from the American Legion about the American flag.

Stilwell Junior High A group of Stilwell eighth grade chorus students performed their solo festival selections for the West Des Moines Kiwanis Club.  The performance took place during a breakfast meeting on March 6. The singers were Luke Dawson, Tim Dorn, Brook Norwood, Mara Akers, Erica Lack and Emily Veatsch. Later that afternoon, those six singers and 23 others performed their solos at the Stilwell vocal solo festival.  Judges were Ryan Deignan and Heather Nail. All participants were honored with the top rating of division I, thanks to their hard work.  Tim Dorn and Jamie Hanson were awarded perfect scores and the honor of being best of center.

The Tiger Archery Team qaulified for the national tournament in Kentucky by finishing fourth overall in the state tournament at Hyvee Hall March 2.  They missedthe third place overall trophy and individual medals by only 36 points. Most archers shot a season high score. Ryan Johnston finished in fourth place state-wide for middle school boys. Mitchell O’Meara shot a 282 out of 300 possible and was fourth in the state for middle school boys. Stilwell alum and Valley Southwoods freshman Alina Husain shot a 286 and placed second for high school females in the state. Jordan Creek placed third in state-wide for elementary students. Great job Tigers!

Valley High School Congratulations to the following students who received (I) ratings at State Speech contest March 9: Dani Lipman, Catherine Leafstadt, Elizabeth Reed, Alex Johnson(9th grade), Lily Koufer, Hannah Todd, Hannah Beuse, Tyler Butel, Brooke Beatty, Lindsey Hohl, Annaliessa Michelotti , Jessica Martens. The following students were selected to perform at All State on March 25 at UNI: Alex Johnson, Review; Brooke Beatty, After Dinner; Elizabeth Reed, Expository Address; and Hanna Beuse, Poetry.

Please join the Valley Best buddies Team for the Best Buddies Friendship Walk Day at the Iowa Cubs April 14 at 10 a.m. You can join Team Valley High School under team captain Ryan Baker This event helps Best Buddies Iowa. Their hope is to bring more programing to the State of Iowa for individuals with special needs. Please share this with your friends and family and help us to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. For more information please go to the following link and either Sponsor Team Valley High School or join our team!

Crestview Elementary Crestview fourth graders Eleanor Horak and Natalie Ulrich have completed reading all 21 Iowa Children’s Choice books.  Both girls are in the Awesome Sparkle Readers Book Club that meets weekly with Stephanie Horak at lunch and discuss books they read.  Eleanor chose the Dear America, “Like the Willow Tree” by Lois Lowry as her favorite, while Natalie enjoyed the science fiction thriller by Patricia C. McKissck.  Congratulations girls!

Have you ever thought about how difficult it would be to learn English if you were not a native speaker?  If you’ve ever looked up as you come in the front entrance of Crestview you may have noticed several clocks showing the times of countries around the world.  These are countries from which Crestview families originate.  They include the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Argentina, Ghana, Bosnia, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Russia, Sudan, Uganda, India, Pakistan, Myranmar, Vietnam and Korea.  We have numerous students from these areas at Crestview successfully learning the English language even though it can be so confusing at times! As you read these examples, think about how confusing it would be if you were not a native speaker:

  • The bandage was      wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

Crossroads Park Elementary Crossroads Park Elementary will hold a family potluck for its staff and ESL families April 18 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the cafeteria. Each family is encouraged to bring a food dish from their culture to share. The school will provide paper products and drinks. There will be games for all to play. Raffle items such as books, puzzles, games, paper, pencils, markers, etc. will be up for lucky attendees to win.

Fairmeadows Elementary Congratulations to the following students who were selected to represent Fairmeadows Elementary in the 2013 All-District Sixth Grade Honor Choir: Jordan Andrus, Emily Bartusek, Hanna Boeckenstedt, Noan Colby, Karsen Duve, Lexi Falco, Garrett Gallagher, Annie Grob, Cassie Larick, Sidney Mays, Skye Merrell, Lauren Munoz, Evan Pflughaupt, Linh Pham, Olivia Rainey-Madonia, Rylie Tu, Morgan Tyma, Skylar Vanden Bosch and Bailey Whitso. These musicians begin rehearsals March 29  and will be performing as part of the Honors Festival at Valley High School Auditorium on Tuesday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. Also performing in this Honors Festival will be our Honor Handbell representatives, Garrett Gallagher, Jack Basart-Morse and Olivia Rainey-Madonia.  We are so proud of our Fairmeadows students!

Fourth graders in Deb Vail’s class at Fairmeadows have been working on an economics unit in social studies. Students wrote resumes, participated in a classroom job fair, applied for jobs in the building, and interviewed with their principal, Carol Seid. Additionally, students got paid Vail bucks for jobs performed throughout the building. However, they had to use most of their weekly salary to pay for services that they received daily such as voice lessons (music), a personal trainer (P.E.), catered lunch (school lunch), medical care (visits to the nurse), etc. Mr. Pearl, a Fairmeadows parent and local business owner, came to help students develop a business plan as part of a community service project associated with this unit. With his guidance, 4V Beading Co. raised $180 through the sale of the handmade, one-of-a-kind, bracelets they made and sold. All of the proceeds were donated to the Fairmeadows library.

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Life in the WDMCS 3/11/13

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.

Hillside Elementary Students at Hillside Elementary celebrated good character and other acknowledgements at their Success Assembly last Thursday afternoon. Students in each grade level were chosen to receive Character Counts! awards from their teachers for demonstrating the pillars of character. Perfect attendance awards were also given out for the second trimester. There was also entertainment with soloists from band, choir, and orchestra.

Jordan Creek Elementary In February, an artist from VSA Iowa-Arts for Children program visited Jordan Creek Elementary to conduct an art workshop with the preschoolers.  She brought plenty of Wiki Sticks for all of the children, and taught them how to make soft sculpture, by molding them into three dimensional shapes and designs.

At Jordan Creek we are excited to offer a small group to support siblings with a special needs brother or sister.  The group meets monthly with about 20 students in a small group and lunch format.  The kids are eager to share about their families and themselves and often will ask the group for advice.  The kids have a bond with each other and it’s neat to see the engagement and interaction among the group members. They like to know they are supported and other families are like theirs. At the end of the year, the group members and their siblings are invited to a fun event. Past events have been to Monkey Joes and Sky Zone and this year the kids are excited to invite their siblings to an end of the year bowling event.

Phenix Elementary Phenix   families enjoyed participating in Carnival Night ran by the Parent-Faculty Club.  This year’s carnival theme was Mystery.  Families enjoyed food by Carlos O’Kellys, played  games like Pick the Pocket and had their future read by a Fortune  Teller.  Great fun was had by all.

Indian Hills Junior High Congratulations to the Indian Hills Math Counts! team and their coach Sarah Gould . After only a few weeks of preparation, our team placed third overall! This qualifies us to move on to the state competition. Eight Indian Hhills students scored in the top 25 percent of all individuals, three of whom were in the top 10 individuals. The state competition will be held on March 22 at Drake University.

Stilwell Junior High Stilwell Junior High Team I held a Celebration Assembly by focusing on those with outstanding participation in school activities, honoring readers who read more than their English teacher Kay Woods, bestowing accolades to those with a perfect score on the team’s 150-word vocabulary test and applauding those students who made the team A and B Honor Rolls. Those students receiving academic recognition for their school work on Team I are Rheanne Ames, Raquel Anderson, Jamen Andrews, Jacqui Arriaga,  Nick Bartusek, Logan Benson, Joe Bernhard, Allie Brackett, Wil Brown, Anthony Burgos, Pam Chander,  Catherine Christian, Ryan Clemens, Emily Conard, Quinton Curry, Ari Cutler, Elizabeth Davidson, Jack Davis, Luke Dawson, Emma Degen, Adriana Dominguez, Evan Eastin, Chase Fury, Brandon Gliem,  Courtney Graham, Shay Griffith, Beth Hammond,  Jamie Hanson, Azsia Hobson,  Catie Judge, Baylie Katcher, Bri Klawonn,  Karley Kopaska, Sarah Kuhlman, Kamden Lee,  Jessica Lefler, Katie Lewis, Celine Lie,  Van Ly, BreAnna McCartan, Olivia McQuerry, Megan Maly, Elise Marguiles, Brennan Mastous, Jacob Mendoza, Naleesa Narayan, Brook Norwood,  Sam Oberander, Tin Pham,  Haritha Ponduri, Guowei Qi, Emir Rahic, Garry Reineke, Nezira Rizvanovic, Dani Roth, Connor Schatzberg,  Sydney Schweitzer, Delaney Smith,  Emma Sodder,  Emily Steimel,  Muhamed Stilic, Andy Thompson, Colin Tracy, Caleb Valez,  Lauren Weisshaar, Izzy Wilde, Katie Wilson, and Piper Wood.

Every month students who demonstrate the three cornerstones of Stilwell in their behavior are nominated by staff members to be featured in the Celebrating Stilwell Students program.  Students receive a coupon for a free lunch or a la carte menu item in addition to having their photo and accomplishments posted in the display case at school The cornerstones are: do your best, do the right thing, and treat others with respect.  Students now being honored are Grace Barker, Tim Dorn, Angela Wilkening, Catie Judge, Catherine Christian, Jessica Allen, Ben Studebaker, Miller McCoy, Kade Hatcher, Chloe Dryer, Jarred Gaudineer, Kon Lueth and Lillian Poulsen.

Valley High School Best Buddies from VHS attended the Spread the word to End the word at the state capital. Students met with various senators and worked to advocate for individuals with special needs. Afterwards students had their picture taken with Governor Branstad.

Clive Elementary In their social studies unit, fifth graders at Clive Elementary have been learning about the Revolutionary War and the events that lead to the war with Britain.  The main focus of this unit was to show students why the colonists felt it necessary to change the system of power and create a new government. Events such as the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the Boston Massacre were all introduced to the students. One of the most fun activities was the American Revolution simulation, where students had to choose between being a Patriot or a Loyalist, and give solid reasons why they were choosing that side.  During the simulation, students learned about the different conditions the Patriot and British soldiers experienced, paying special attention to the winter the Patriots spent at cold Valley Forge, while the British occupied Philadelphia, staying nice and cozy.  Students also were able to reenact the surrender at Yorktown, singing Yankee Doodle Dandle to the once arrogant British soldiers.  It has been a really great unit, and the students have really enjoyed examining the reasons behind how we become a free nation.

Crestview Elementary Crestview celebrated Read Across America with Dr. Suess. Each day, a teacher read a daily Dr. Suess quote. Classrooms that knew which Dr. Suess book the quote came from received a prize! Other activities we did to participate in Read Across America included reading Dr. Suess books aloud in classrooms, buddy reading, and logging reading minutes. To celebrate Dr. Suess’ birthday on Friday, students wore crazy socks and hats to school.

Crossroads Park Elementary Crossroads Park Elementary held its annual Fine Arts Day with local talent coming to the school and presenting to the students. Presentations included the Art of Jamming, a visiting author and cartoonist, Sally the Clown, cricut cardmaking, cupcake decorating, fish printing, graphic art, martial arts, Mexican tin retables and origami boxes.

Fairmeadows Elementary The 23rd Street Singers from Fairmeadows Elementary, under the direction of Deb Augspurger, recently hit the road with performances at the West Des Moines Public Library and Fountain West Health Care Center. They also held a concert for Fairmeadows students and the community at the school. The program included a variety of musical styles and dance choreography. Thank you to the chorus students and families for helping to “make beautiful music” at Fairmeadows!

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Life in the WDMCS 3/4/13

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.

Jordan Creek Elementary The Jordan Creek archery team is ranked third in the state! Student rankings are here: The team recently placed second overall in the elementary division at the Iowa Games Shoot with a team score of 2659. Members who participated in the Iowa Games Shoot with the National Archery in Schools Program included sixth graders Will Golay, Kyle Westhoff, Austin Emans, Cooper Johnson, Carson Brown, Benji Renken, Jackson Froscheiser, Blake Grevengoed, Griffin Satre & Tyler Johnston; fifth graders Jack Temme and Sam Hall; fourth graders Hunter Edgington, Will Fox, Adam Hisel, Nathan Buzzell, Pierce Blazek and Neal Marlett. Congratulations to all the archers who participated in the competition!

Fourth graders at Jordan Creek Elementary have been studying the Western Region of the United States. Students have made power points, posters, clay models, dioramas, puppet shows and presentations depicting the Transcontinental Railroad and the Gold Rush. The students have shared their knowledge of how these events changed the land and the people in the Western Region. Our students have struck gold!

Phenix Elementary Tuesday Tastings are held the last Tuesday of every month at Phenix Elementary.  Kindergarten through third grade students at Phenix Elementary tasted three colors of bell peppers for their February Tuesday Tasting.  Each grade level listened and participated in a nutrition lesson taught by Jessica George, the school’s wellness coordinator and second grade teacher, about the benefits of eating vegetables, specifically bell peppers.  Students learned the difference in flavor and health benefits between bell peppers of different colors.  At the end of the lesson, they smelled and tasted a bite of each of the three colors: green, yellow and red.

Western Hills Elementary Students at Western Hills had fun celebrating Valentine’s Day with their classes!  Each classroom had their own party which of course included exchanging Valentine’s!  Students played games, made hats, and ate goodies.  Students and teachers really appreciated all the help from Homeroom parents a well as parent volunteers.

Westridge Elementary The 6th Grade Math Club had a great finish to their fall competitive season. Westridge students sat for the AMC 8 Worldwide Math Contest with the following students receiving top school honors: Connor Parnau – Gold; Jane Berg and Shuchi Srivastava – Silver; and Carsen Codel, Kyle Juist, Braedon Kirkpatrick and Brogan Kirkpatrick – Bronze.  The team of Parnau, Berg and Srivastava placed 11th out of 21 (older) middle school teams.  Codel and Brogan Kirkpatrick had the second highest scores in the state for fifth graders.  All of Westridge’s gold, silver and bronze winners outscored the worldwide average for their grade levels along with their teammates Grace Maller, Haley Losh, and Sasha Wallace. The Math Club finished their fall season with a fun Amazing Race Competition.  Congratulations to the following teams: Kyle Juist, Jon Shaner, and Connor Parnau for fastest finishing time and Brogan Kirkpatrick, Austin Letsch, and Hunter Underwood for highest score. The math club is continuing to practice and most recently compete in the February Mathcounts chapter competition.

Fifth grade students at Westridge Elementary had the opportunity to help out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  They were in charge of a fundraiser called Pennies for Patients, which collects money to be donated to helping those with leukemia.  The kick-off assembly for the fundraiser was on February 14 and included costumes, student speakers, a skit and a special speaker, Jessica Elwell of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each day of the donation week, students brought in generous monetary donations from home to help contribute.  Parent volunteers took the money to the bank to be counted and returned with class totals.  First, second, and third place were announced each day along with a reminder for what the following day’s dress-up attire would look like. The dress-up days were as follows:  Monday was 80’s Day, Tuesday was Senior Citizen Day, Wednesday was Team Day, Thursday was Hat Day, and Friday was Book Character Day (in coordination with the PTA’s Reading Rocks Fundraiser).  We had lots of fun participating in the dress-up days and getting everyone excited and pumped up to help out with this fundraiser! Westridge Elementary has raised over $4,900 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  There was a tie for first place in Mrs. Jaros’s third grade class and Mrs. Bruening’s kindergarten class and both classes will get to take part in a class pizza party. The fifth grade students did a great job working hard on this fundraiser, and all the donations and volunteer help is greatly appreciated!  Thanks to all who helped make this year’s Pennies for Patients fundraiser a success!

Indian Hills Junior High On February 27, students in Shannan Belden’s eighth grade ELP class at Indian Hills arrested Natalie French for theft and arson. For the last six weeks, the students at Indian Hills have been working on solving a crime, a fire set in the media center to cover up the theft of a iPad. Students were working on a CSI unit and they had to collect evidence from the crime scene. They were required to interview all of the faculty in order to narrow down the suspects. Through interviews and analysis of the evidence they were leaning toward another suspect as the criminal. After examining all the evidence and the crime scene they found enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Mrs. French. It is believed that through negligence Mrs. French broke one of her classroom iPads and stole one from the media center to replace the broken one. Sargent Vern Lukehart, Indian Hill’s police liaison, assisted in making the arrest and reading Mrs. French her Miranda Rights.

Stilwell Junior High The Stilwell archery team has completed its regular season.  Their record this year was as follows: third at Cornell, first at Johnston, first at Diagonal, second at the Iowa Games and second at Stilwell’s own Tiger Shoot Out.  Several Stilwell archers were in the top five individually for their age division.

On February 20, students in Shannan Belden’s eighth grade ELP class at Stilwell arrested Nicole Crawford for fraud and vandalism. For the last six weeks, the students have been working on solving a crime, the theft of a laptop in the drama room. Students were working on a CSI unit and they had to collect evidence from the crime scene. They were required to interview all of the faculty in order to narrow down the suspects. Through interviews and analysis of the evidence they were leaning toward another suspect as the criminal. After reexamining all the evidence and the crime scene they found the “smoking gun” that proved they had enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Mrs. Crawford. The motive for the theft appears to be fraud in order to collect insurance money to spend on the school play! Detective Jeff Lyon, Stilwell’s police liaison, assisted in making the arrest and overseeing that Mrs. Crawford was read her Miranda Rights!

Stilwell’s eighth grade boys’ basketball season has come to an end, and what a great season it was!  It was full of individual improvement, team unity, and sportsmanship for the 65 student-athletes who participated.  Many of the participants this year have been playing for years, while a handful of others were playing organized basketball for the first time.  The players were organized into A, B, C, D, E, and F teams and all had many moments of success.  The A-Team finished with an 11-1 record, while scoring an impressive 52 points per game and holding their opponents to under 29.  The group was very unselfish and brings a lot of talent to Valley next year.  The B-Team finished with an 8-4 record, the C-Team  11-1, the D-Team  5-0, the E-Team 4-0, and the F-Team 1-3.  This gave Stilwell an overall record of 40-12. Over the course of the season, the boys showed a lot of growth individually and as teammates.  Most importantly, they were often complemented on their focus and respectful demeanor.  It was a group full of leaders and they represented Stilwell well.   Thank you to all who have supported the team this year. The team is coached by Rob Wedebrand.

Ten Stilwell students participated in the MATHCOUNTS Chapter Competition, a national program designed to improve math skills among U.S. students. The local/chapter competitions take place in February, followed by the state competitions in March. The grand finale is the national competition in Washington D.C. in May. Over 275 students from Central Iowa and Des Moines area schools participated in this year’s Chapter Competition. The top five teams and top six individuals advance to the state competition to be held March 22 at the Olmsted Center on the Drake University Campus in Des Moines. The Stilwell team placed 11 overall out of 35 teams, and eighth grader Gabriel Mintzer placed first and will advance to the state competition as an individual competitor. The Stilwell MATHCOUNTS team is coached by Celeste Richardson.

Valley High School Two of the three Valley Mock Trial teams who competed in regional playoffs will be advancing to state competition which takes place after spring break. Team members are Dylan DeClerck, Caitlin Edwards, Lucy Korsakov, Ben Kruse, Joel Kruse, Emma Lind, Megan Nubel, Rishi Shah, Grady Stein, Ben Weinberg, Katie Apland, Brooke Beatty, Lexi Brennan, Kyra Cooper, Rae Gernent, Catherine Leafstedt, Thomas Leafstedt and Abby Pepin.

Clive Elementary Sixth grade students at Clive Elementary in Heidi Marean’s homeroom incubated and hatched 12 baby chicks. The students documented the chick’s embryonic progress and recorded the different stages of their 21 days of development. The students also made connections and noted similarities and differences between human and chick development using information learned through their unit about genetics and human growth and development in science class.

Crestview Elementary Congratulations to Gwyn Chilcoat, a fifth grader at Crestview Elementary for reading and reporting on all Iowa Children Choice books. She noted that “CandyMakers” by Wendy Mass is her favorite.  An avid reader and frequent reviewer of the books she reads at Crestview, Gwyn wrote in her review of the book, “There are four main characters.  Each of them are working together, but each trying to win for himself. There is a candymaking contest. Who will win? There is some creepy spyness added for extra zest.  Sure, it’s a long book, but boy is it great!”

Crestview Elementary will host its annual school-wide Food, Family, Fun Night alongside the school’s Open House March 28 with a choose your own adventure style.  Families will enjoy a free taco supper, visit with teachers and enjoy planned activities.  Iowa State University engineering students will join Lego Team members and Crestview staff to help.  Each family will receive math take home materials and will have the opportunity to win educational games too.  All activities are designed to encourage reading while promoting mathematics.  All children in attendance will receive a free book.  The goal for the evening will be to show parents what their children are learning in school and how to help at home in an engaging way!  (Sponsored by WDMCS Title 1)

Crossroads Park Elementary Crossroads Park Elementary will host its annual chorus concert March 11 at 6:30 p.m. Students in fifth and sixth grade are excited to present their concert to family and friends. The concert will feature a variety folk songs, songs in Hebrew and French, nonsense songs and pop songs.  There will also be band and orchestra solos and ensembles, selected by the instrumental instructors.  And of course it wouldn’t be a chorus concert without the annual singing of a “Hot Cup of Cocoa!”

Sixth grade students are involved with an economics study called JA BizTown, a hands-on learning facility combined with an eight-week curriculum. Sixth graders spent a full day running a city, learning how natural resources contribute to a community, the interdependency of jobs, production patterns, how the stock market works. election and campaign management and check book maintenance and how a bank works. Students held jobs such as mayor, bank president, disc jockey, accountant and sales manager. Students received paychecks for their work and spent their money at the city. A number of parents volunteered to help make this a success.  A big thank you to Mr. Stewart, Mr. Williams, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Shelton, Mr. House, Mr. DeTaeye, Mr. Maher, Mr. Paine, Mr. Blanchette, Mrs. Blanchette, Mrs. Paine, Mrs. Onsrud, Mrs. Bartlett, Mrs. Salloum, Mrs. Abeling, and Mrs. Johnson for volunteering their time to help with field trip.

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Forney Earns President’s Volunteer Service Award

news-rachel-forneyRachel Forney, a sixth grader at Jordan Creek Elementary, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was presented by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Program on Behalf of President Barak Obama.

Rachel Forney, her mom and two siblings composed songs for a Christmas CD called “Not Too Little.”  The CD honors the life of four-year-old Jacob Graen, who wasn’t too little to share his love with others during his short time on Earth.  Proceeds from the sale of the CD helped to benefit children at YESS, Blank Children’s Hospital and families in the Sandy Hook School community. For every CD  purchased, Rachel and her family donated one to a children’s charity at Blank,  YESS and to the families of the Sandy Hook School Community.

Applications were distributed last September through all public and private middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of HandsOn Network. After local honorees were named, state-level judges selected stat honorees, distinguished finalists and certificate of excellence recipients. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.