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Life in the WDMCS 4/29/13

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.

Stilwell Junior High The eighth grade T team at Stilwell Junior High spent their homeroom working out to an exercise program called Boot Camp Calorie Burn on Fit and Fabulous TV, which is available for download on iTunes. Students agree that if they got into the moves, they worked up a sweat. “It was a great way to start the morning and I hope we do it again soon,” said one student participant. The team will get moving again next Friday morning with an all-school walk.

Students in seventh grade ELP at Stilwell Junior High took a trip to Colby Park on Earth Day. They spent an hour and a half exploring the Walnut Creek, making observations about the creek’s ecosystem and how the creek is used for recreation. This trip is part of a flood unit that was designed in conjunction with the Iowa: Living With Floods initiative. Students will be learning about what it means to live with flooding, they will be interviewing several member of the community about the 1993/2008 floods and making terrariums based on what they observed at the creek.

Valley High School Valley senior Michelle Rose was selected from a nation-wide pool as one of five United Bowling Congress Youth members to receive the Earl Anthony Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is in recognition of her community involvement and academic achievement. The scholarships are presented in honor of the late Earl Anthony, the legendary bowling professional who was dedicated to helping youth bowlers. The USBC Youth committee selects the scholarship winners and each will be awarded a $5,000 scholarship. An honors program student and National Merit Semifinalist, Rose is an accomplished cellist in the school’s orchestra, an ambassador for the school and a member of the bowling team. She has volunteered with Meals from the Heartland, packing meals for countries in need, and worked at the Red Rock Wildlife Education Center. She also has served as a camp counselor at the Living History Farms Day Camp and at her church.

Valley senior Abigail Pepin is among 22 students across the country to earn an internship with the World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Internships. She will travel to México this summer to work at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in El Batán. The interns are involved in global projects dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger such as: fisheries and aquaculture studies; biotechnology; micro-credit and the women’s self-help concept; the influence of education on household food security; and the calculation of Vitamin C concentration in numerous potato varieties.

Clive Elementary Author/illustrator Tracy Lovett and the band BETWIXT visited Clive Elementary April 18 to share songs, art, literature, writing and music. Lovett shared with the students her experiences as a writer, artist and professional photographer. She showed them how she uses both traditional and digital art techniques to bring her tales to life. They got to see and hear some of Lovett’s books read by the author herself. Students also participated in a musical experience with the children’s folk rock band, BETWIXT. Students will be singing their favorite BETWIXT tunes for many weeks to come!

Crestview Elementary Third graders from Crestview Elementary School had the opportunity this past month to participate in the Read to Me Program. Each classroom visited a different nursing home in the community, and students read their favorite picture books to their senior friends there. Some students also sang a song from their recent music concert, as well as performed a reader’s theater. Students loved learning from their senior friend about what school was like when they were kids, and students and seniors alike enjoyed this great outreach opportunity.

Crestview second graders have had a busy April. They visited the Iowa Historical Museum for the Extraordinary Ordinary workshop and had a guest speaker who shared about Japanese origami come to school. Students will wrap up the month performing a music program for parents, as well as eating a Japanese lunch, complete with chopsticks and kimonos that students decorated!

Crossroads Park Elementary The halls at Crossroads Park Elementary have been filled with music as students prepare for upcoming spring concerts, including the sixth grade Honor Music Concert May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Valley Auditorium. Many Crossroads students will be involved in this concert due to their hard work and commitment to their various ensembles. Congratulations to the following students on a job well done and being chosen to be a part of these honor ensembles: Honor Band – Greta Stewart, Maddie Pautvein, Olivia Allard, Julia Tighe, John Lim, Tyler Utter, Carrie Abeling, Evan Paine, Grace Johnson, Kate Anderson and Sam Onsrud; Honor Choir – Alysa Batterson, Liz Dunagan, Maddie Eakins, Riley Heil, Meredith Johnson, Hanna Marcus, Camryn Mears, Samantha Morris, Maddie Pautvein, Hannah Ross, Brie Salloum, Greta Stewart, Morgan Theisen, Julia Tighe and Ronin Welch; Honor Hand Bells – Sam Onsrud, Emily Anders and Evan Paine; Honor Orchestra – Maddie Pautvein, Julie Tighe, Lucas Bryant, Deaven Nguyen, Carrie Abeling, Riley Heil.

Jordan Creek Elementary The Jordan Creek Circle of Friends program will be wrapping up the year with a school “lock in” in May. The kids will be engaged in fun activities, food, and a dance party! This year there will be several sixth graders moving on to junior high, but the group looks forward to adding new circles next year and continuing the program for a fifth year.

Jordan Creek first graders did some Earth Day activities at school to learn about how important each person’s role is to help keep our Earth live a long and healthy life. Teachers read an article about the possibility of our children reaching 150 healthy years. Keeping a healthy planet for them is a job for everyone. As many of the students know “Every day is Earth Day!” Students and teachers also welcomed a Polk County Conservationist Hooked on Bugs. This was in preparation for their science unit, Insects and Spiders. They will be learning how to tell if a critter is an insect or a spider or something else. Entering the world of entomology will be fun and interesting. In math, teachers are introducing adding two-digit numbers, fractions and equivalent fractions, graphing including finding the range and median or middle value and making symmetrical shapes. Students will also learn that most of the insects they study are symmetrical! Fun connection to science!

Phenix Elementary Phenix Elementary second and third grade classes participated in VIP day April 18, inviting someone they consider to be a very important person to spend the afternoon at school. The second grade class presented their ocean animal reports with art work, while the third grade class shared their Australian animal reports and played a math card game. Thank you to all the VIPs for making it a special day!

Western Hills Elementary The House of My Dreams has been a popular topic lately all across America. In fourth grade at Western Hills, the students are describing and designing their dream homes – in Spanish! The students can tell you the specifics from the exterior color, shape and size, right down to the specifics of the interior decorating. Using traditional Hispanic designs and vibrant colors, these houses are sure to be all the rage in the future.

Westridge Elementary You can teach an old dog new tricks – or at least that is what four Westridge students believe. Fifth grade ELP students Chloe Edwards, Lauren Gilbert, Allie Melhorn and Meredith Neal, under the direction of ELP teacher Nancy Foley, wrote and illustrated a book about idioms for the Scholastic Kids are Authors contest. Students saw a poster advertising the contest at the Westridge Book Fair in November and decided to enter the contest. They spent weeks analyzing children’s books and discovering what made a good picture book. Next, students brainstormed ideas and researched idioms. With the help of art teacher Deb Leventhal, students learned about water color and other techniques for their illustrations. Finally, the girls wrote and illustrated their story. The book is 28 pages and contains hours and hours of work! The winning book will be published and sold at book fairs across the country. Scholastic will announce the winners by May 31. The girls recently shared their book with the public at Learnapalooza.

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Life in the WDMCS 4/22/13

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.

Stilwell Junior High As part of their study of climate and climate change, students in the advanced science classes at Stilwell Junior High conducted an investigation of the factors that contribute to the greenhouse effect.  In a lab developed by Eric Korpanty, students were able to observe the differences in heating and cooling on different surfaces (soil, water, sand) in a closed container under simulated cloudy or clear skies.  The students were then able to compare their data draw conclusions as to which factors had a greater influence on the greenhouse effect. Advanced science teachers are  Eric Korpanty, Ruth Henderson and Shelly Urban.

Clive Elementary The kindergarten students at Clive Elementary are busy with a science unit called Seed to Plant. Since spring has started, the students are learning about what happens in the spring, what animals and bugs/insects they see, what sports take place, what types of clothing to wear, what the weather is like, and especially what grows in the spring. Kindergartners are learning about how a flower grows by doing a hands-on experiment called The Life Cycle of a Flower. Last week, each kindergartner planted two sunflower seeds in a cup to patiently watch it grow from root, to stem, to leaves, to a flower.  They are learning about the responsibilities of helping a flower grow by watering it, keeping it by the window for sunlight, and writing about what is happening in their journals. The students will take their sunflower home right before Mother’s Day to continue the care.

Crestview Elementary Crestview fourth grade music classes shared songs, instrumental selections and dances with their friends, and families April 11.  The program, called Celebrate Music, featured music from Africa, Europe, Russia, Canada and the USA.  Students showed the progression of their skills on recorder, and featured a classroom teacher, Sara Costello and their music student teacher, Caroline Byrd singing with them on “Amazing Grace.”  Students echoed rhythms on boomwhackers and improvised 8-beat patterns on mallet instruments.  Students sang in Ruusian, played string instruments,  and danced in costume to the Russian folk song “Little Birch Tree.”  The program ended with Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World” as the students waved flags from counties around the world, 23 of which are represented in the student body of Crestview Elementary.

Crestview Elementary had 11 fifth graders participate in the South Central Iowa Choral Director’s Honor Choir held at Perry High School.  The choir was directed by Valley Southwoods choir director Heather Nail. The concert featured five songs sung by the fifth grade choir of 120 students from central Iowa schools and one song sung with the fifth and sixth grade combined choirs, nearly 300 students. Students rehearsed the music at school prior to the festival day with their music teacher, Ruth Dorr, and then spent the entire afternoon and early evening rehearsing for the concert which was given to a standing room only crowd of parents and family.

Crestview fourth grader Roopa Chawla recently finished reading all 21 Iowa Children’s Choice books. She is the 15th Crestview student to accept and complete the challenge of reading and reporting on all these books this year.  Roopa chose “Like the Willow Tree” by Newbery Award winning author Lois Lowry as her favorite one of all.  Congratulations, Roopa!

Crossroads Park Elementary WDMCS fifth and sixth grade Extended Learning students attended A World of Choices, a career mini-conference April 5. The event, which was coordinated by the Extended Learning teachers and staff, was held at the Learning Resource Center for the entire morning. Each student chose which four 25-minute break-out sessions they wished to attend. Speakers included an accountant, an actor, two chefs, a chemist, a mechanical engineer, a scientist-medical science liaison, criminalists, a journalist, an author, a graphic designer, a nurse, an oncologist, an international relations consultant, a surgeon, an architect, and a business owner. Parent volunteers assisted in transporting students to the event and helped to make everything run smoothly. This has been an annual event for the past 21 years.

Hillside Elementary Student Council at Hillside Elementary has had another busy year.  With the start at Hope Lutheran Church, the school decided “Appreciation” was a fitting theme for the year.  So student council ran with it. While at Hope in the fall, they collected over 1,000 food items to contribute to their biweekly food store for the community. They also continued two projects that students appreciated. “Attendance Bucks” were awarded daily to any class that had perfect attendance.  With 25 days, classes could trade out for a $25 check to use in their classrooms.  Another winter project was “Cozy Up with a Good Book,” where students put tickets in their neighborhood buckets when they finished books and on Valentine’s Day three students received Student Council made body pillows decked out in orange and black paw prints. This spring, the classrooms are playing school-wide “Appreciation Bingo.”  Every day a new word is put up in our lobby from PowerPoint slides the Student Council Reps made that feature things they appreciate.  Classrooms that win the top three prizes will be awarding money to three causes they determine worthy.  All of these projects are funded by our very active, student run, School Book & Supply Store that is opened every Friday during the lunch hour. The Hillside Student Council motto guides our very active organization. “We are here to serve our school, our community, and our world.”

Fourth graders at Hillside Elementary are traveling to the four different classrooms to be schooled in history, geography, culture and home and school life of Russia. The beauty of this unit is the wealth of opportunities students experience. Students learn in depth about the history of Russia by creating a timeline, a crown featuring information about five czars and finally a Kidspiration web showing off their knowledge. They also create a PowerPoint featuring the geographical regions of Russia and experiment with the language, dance the troika and perform in their own talent show. In addition, students read extensively about Russia and emerge themselves in a museum experience as they delve into the art, music and architecture.  With Marc Chagall’s lead, students will wrap up their study with their own original creation of “I  and  my Village,” their own surrealistically displayed photographic collage of their fourth grade year.

Jordan Creek Elementary Second graders at Jordan Creek are studying plants in science. Students are developing a curiosity and interest in plants as living things.   This month they observe and describe the changes through drawing and writing that occur as brassica plants and grass grow and develop.  They are also acquiring the vocabulary of plants such as stem, root, leaf, bud, flower and seed.  They are enjoying this fun science unit very much!

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Life in the WDMCS 4/8/13

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.

Western Hills Elementary Each year the WDMCS presents a district-wide Sixth Grade Honors Concert, which is performed by sixth grade students in celebration of their involvement in their individual school’s music program throughout their elementary years.  The concert consists of an Honor Choir, Honor Handbell Choir, Honor Orchestra, and Honor Band. The Sixth Grade Honor Choir meets for 11 rehearsals learning and memorizing five new pieces of music for its performance.  Congratulations to the following Western Hills Elementary students chosen to participate in the 2013 Honor Choir: Elizabeth Brackett, Gunner Hawthorne, Madison Kaufman, Erin Lowe and Caitlyn Potter. The Sixth Grade Honor Concert performance is May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Valley High School Auditorium.

Indian Hills Junior High Indian Hills eighth grader TJ Foley won the championship of the Lincoln-Douglas division at the Novice Nationals tournament at Iowa City West. This is one of two major Novice National events and it marked the first time that a junior high student has won the event.

Stilwell Junior High 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 Trane, Travis Moore, Karlee Kilkenny, Ryan Clemens, David Hettmann, Bedale Naba, Todd Robinson, Sarah Wilson, Vivian Alba, Viridiana Alba, Abby Wahlig, Kelsey Boal, Emily Taylor, Garrett Wheeler and Preston Collignon Doerrfeld.

Valley High School The Valley Jazz Orchestra tied for first place and was invited to perform at the evening concert at the Eau Claire Jazz Fest this weekend! Valley Jazz Ensemble also played extremely well and was noted for having one of the most enthusiastic performances of the day. The Valley Combo comprised of David Nicholson, Ryan Garmoe, Alec Garringer, Lauren Johnson, Zane Gedler, and Nick Behrends, who put together an amazing performance and earned second place. Finally, many of the students were awarded outstanding soloist awards, with Lauren Johnson, bassist with the Jazz Orchestra, earning a $200 scholarship toward a summer music camp.

Clive Elementary Clive Elementary had14 students represent the school at the district’s Spanish Quiz Bowl March 29. The quiz bowl is for students who do not speak Spanish at home.  Kids who are good at Spanish, work hard in class, and demonstrate a good attitude were invited to go to the Spanish quiz bowl.  They competed against teams from other schools around the district.  The Clive teams were fourth graders Keaton Kelly, Lizzie Sweeney, Seth Croonquist and Marionna Holder; fifth graders Farah Hagan, Sarah Amro and Madeline Shumaker; and sixth graders Hailey Amro, Jacob DeGroat, Aryan Prajapati and Ben Allen. Some native speakers were also invited to help lead the activities at Quiz Bowl.  These students were Yahriel Salinas-Reyes, Rigo Gaytan and Olga Herrera-Perez.

Crestview Elementary Señora Tammy Dann took three teams of students to represent Crestview Elementary at the Spanish Quiz Bowl March 29. This competition is for students who do not speak Spanish at home. Kids who are good at Spanish, work hard in class and demonstrate a good attitude were invited to go to the Spanish Quiz Bowl. The 2013 Crestview teams were fourth graders Jacie Davenport, Dasha Gaydayenko, Shivani Annapureddy and Eleanor Horak; fifth graders Katelyn Rieger, Parker Brueck, Lauren Donnelly and Kyle Elmore; and sixth graders Caden Davenport, Alexa Nelson, Alison Whitaker, Caroline Lankton. Sixth graders who are native Spanish speakers, work hard in class and have a good attitude were invited to help run the competition. Those students were Leslie Alvarado, Jerry Breiner, Roman Guzman, Charlie Martinez, Israel Perez, Emmanuel Hernandez, Jaime Mendez, Daniela Morales-Rodriguez, Jason Nicacio and Jorge Sanchez.

Crestview students and staff were surprised to find live animated figures in the hallway display cases on April Fool’s Day.  Clifford the dog relaxed in the morning sun as light streamed through the window and children found their way to classes first thing in the morning. Clifford appearance brought attention to the upcoming Book Fair, happening at Crestview April 8-13. In the display case next to Clifford the children and staff were equally surprised to find someone dressed in a scuba outfit with underwater decorations from several kindergarten classes studying oceans.  The diver occasionally waved and gestured to children trying to figure out if he/she was real or not and speculated as to who was inside the case.  At the end of the day students found the pair in the hallway as they high-fived and hugged kids good-bye.  All in a day’s fun!

Crossroads Park Elementary Please join us for the Crossroads Park fourth grade concert April 25 at 2:30 p.m. in the Crossroads Park gym. (Please note the change in the date.) The students will open the concert playing songs on their recorders.  Then the students will present the singing portion of their concert entitled All American Me and You.  Join them as they sing and dance, recite the names of all 50 states and all 44 presidents and celebrate how proud we are to be Americans!

Fairmeadows Elementary Fairmeadows Elementary had 16 students represented the school at the district’s Spanish Quiz Bowl March 29. This quiz bowl is for students who do not speak Spanish at home.  Kids who are good at Spanish, work hard in class and demonstrate a good attitude were invited to go to the Spanish quiz bowl.  They competed against teams from other schools around the district.  The Fairmeadows teams were fourth graders Preston Lee, Randy Whitfield, Alexa Noonan and Julie Gates; fifth graders Mackenzie Oleson, Regan Day, Noah Altemeier and Melos Ahmeti; and sixth graders Sidney Mays, Cali Dixon, Garrett Gallagher and Jayda Manna. Some sixth grade native speakers were also invited to help lead the activities at Quiz Bowl.  These students were Fernanda Tapia, Yesenia Tapia, Diana Palestino and Ingrid Comparan.

Hillside Elementary Hillside Elementary had 11 students represent the school at the district’s Spanish Quiz Bowl March 29. This quiz bowl is for students who do not speak Spanish at home.  Kids who are good at Spanish, work hard in class, and demonstrate good character were invited to go to the Spanish quiz bowl.  They competed against teams from other schools around the district.  The Hillside teams were fourth graders Keeley Downey, Josh Tafta, Aubrie Chapman and Sophie Gauthier; fifth graders Liam Dale, Olivia Quick, Amani Kigen and Caleb Crawford; and sixth graders Chloe Beem, Nathan Finn and Jenna Nielsen. Some native speakers were also invited to help lead the activities at Quiz Bowl.  These students wereLupita Castro-Guzman, Clary Ramirez and Kevin Flores.

Jordan Creek Elementary Jordan Creek Elementary had 12 students represented the school at the district’s annual Spanish Quiz Bowl. This quiz bowl is for students who do not speak Spanish at home.  Kids who work hard to learn Spanish, participate a lot, always do their best, and demonstrate a positive attitude were invited to go to the Spanish quiz bowl.  They competed against teams from other elementary schools around the district.  The students attending were fourth graders Teghan Booth, Cynnava McAvoy, Joclyn Tracy and Andy Kuster; fifth graders Andrew Voggesser, Kevin Qi, Animesh Joshi and Olivia Roush; and sixth graders Megan Decker, Hailey Mendenhall, Mekhia Hillgren and Jessica Haugen. Candace “Maestra” Sherwood would like to congratulate these FLES students for a job well done!

The Jordan Creek/Westridge Fifth Grade Band will be performing three spring concerts in April.  Rehearsals will be at Westridge at 8 a.m. on April 12 and 15. There will also be a performance at 9:15 a.m. April 15 at Westridge. Rehearsal will be at Jordan Creek April 16 at 8 a.m. with a performance at 9:15 a.m. The evening performance for parents will be April 16. Students will arrive at Jordan Creek at 6:50 p.m. for warm-up and preparation for the 7 p.m. concert. The following students from Jordan Creek will be performing: Jackson Begolka, Tristan Bocook, Madison Bowlsby, Claire Burnett, Jay Chevuru, Weston Crawford, Landon Denker, Grant DeWaay, Mikayla Dirksen, Audrey Doerrfeld, Noah Ellis, Peter Erickson, Jadann Gilbert, Sam Hall, Peyton Harryman, Drew Jirak, Angela Kinzie, Gracia Koele, Isabella Ksiazak, Henry Leaders, Tyler Lincoln, Graham Marguiles,  Halle Norton, Bella O’Connor, Brayton Olesen, Grace Plummer, Elyse Porter, Lauren Reimer, Arri Riley, Olivia Roush, Sterling Short, Alexas Teigen, Braden Wallace, Julia Warden and Megan Weis.

The Southside Sixth Grade Band will be performing concerts in April.  On April 9, there will be an 8 a.m. rehearsal at Fairmeadows prior to a 9:15 a.m. performance. On April 11, an 8 a.m. rehearsal at Hillside will prepare students for a 9:15 a.m. performance. The evening performance for parents will be April 11. Students will warm up at 6:15 p.m. for a 6:30 p.m. concert at the Hillside gym. The following students from Jordan Creek will be performing:  Christopher Altemeier, Alecia Barrueta, Brandon Block, Carrie Cassady, Payton Cooper, Dahlia Cutler, Daniel Dickerson, Jackson Froscheiser, Kathryn Grilli, Dave Head, Mekhia Hillgren, Ana Johnson, Riley Kuennen, Cameron McCawley, Sarah Mele, Natalie Morgan, Jessica Olander, Evan Porter, Jack Roush, Will Sanders, Griffin Satre, Emily Schulz, Shuvethan  Sivagurunathan, Carson Slater, Madeline Smith, Conner Smith, Rachel Steim, Radha Velamuri, Steven Vorrath and Rachel Wrenn.

Students at Jordan Creek Elementary had a special teacher during their Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) classes April 5. Zvi Geffen, the village program representative for Concordia Language Villages, got students up and dancing while learning some new Spanish phrases. (See the video.) The visit was coordinated by Jordan Creek’s FLES teacher, Candace Sherwood. Geffen himself was a camper at the Concordia Language Villages, but went through the Chinese Village to get a taste for a new culture outside of what he was studying in school. He became fluent in Spanish as a result of his school studies and living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for two and a half years. He sees Spanish as a very important skill for students, helping them advance in any career while learning to be a better global citizen. While visiting Jordan Creek, he took students through a chant, a song and aline dance, teaching them new words and phrases as they went. He did not speak any English to the students for the first 20 minutes of the class, as is customary in the district’s FLES classes. The Concordia Language Villages are the premiere language and cultural immersion program in the United States. Last summer, campers came from all 50 states and even other countries to be immersed in one of 15 different cultures. The camp pursues a vision of peace and understanding by introducing learners to the languages and cultures of the world. For more information, please visit

Phenix Elementary Kindergarten students in Ronna McGrann’s class at Phenix Early Childhood Center have been studying communication in science.  They recently discussed how dance can be a form of non-verbal communication through the different body movements the dancers display and the type of music they are performing too.  They discovered this through watching portions of the Ballet Swan Lake.  They recreated the body movements with tin foil.  One student said, “My dancer is showing fun because its arms are out.” Another student said, “Mine is showing fun because its arms are reaching up.”

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