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Principal Jones has Gone Pink

jc-jones-pinkIt’s official! Our principal has gone PINK!  Congratulations to all of our students for getting more than 80 percent of their words spelled correctly on their recent Spelling Challenge test. True to his word, Mr. Jones allowed the students to dye his hair pink today for meeting this goal!

Be sure to stay tuned to Channel 5 news tonight to see our JC students in action dying their principal’s hair today. (Thanks Graham for being such a good sport!)


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.

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.

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Counselor’s Corner: “Didn’t I Tell You To Take Out the Trash?!”

Below is a part of an article written by Jim and his son Charles Fay who are well known parenting experts. They are co-founders of the Love and Logic Institute in Colorado.  This article helps support the concept of how much children learn through doing chores at home. While children may complain about the chores; chores give children a since of value within the family.  Chores help teach responsibility and lets children see the value of cooperation and teamwork.  Even small tasks are important teaching moments.

Following our recent snow storm, the service and product providers known as fathers were out trying to clear the walks and driveways. There was not a kid to be seen anywhere.

I commented to a neighbor that in the past, kids would be out with their shovels helping clear the snow. After that they would be off shoveling walks to earn money.

“Is that where your kids are?” I asked.

“No,” he answered. “Kids today aren’t that motivated.”

He blames today’s kids. Little does he know that parents are the ones who train kids to believe they are honored guests in the home, rather than contributing members of a family team.

Many tasks, like snow removal, yard work, are family jobs where kids can and should become part of the team. Kids should be helping in any way that is appropriate for their age. Even small kids can help prepare drinks or snacks to serve the ones who are doing the hard work. The last thing I want to see is a kid sleeping in or playing video games while their parents do these jobs alone.

To learn more about how to get your kids to do family contributions without complaining, listen to the audio “Didn’t I Tell You To Take Out the Trash?!”  by Jim Fay.

More information from Jim and Charles Fay can be found on their website or contact Karen Hanson, Fairmeadows School Counselor at 633-6544 or


Life in the WDMCS 12/9/13

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Life in the WDMCS 12/2/13

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 Elementary School has established a group called Clive Family Outreach. The group works together to provide our students in need of assistance with a holiday gift bag in December. Volunteers are needed to help support our children by taking a gift wish from the Giving Tree. Your special gift will be giving to a specific child to open over the holidays. The  Giving Tree is located in the lobby as you walk in the front doors of our school. You may drop off your gift at the school office on or before December 13. Thank you for making the holidays a special occasion for our Clive children.

As more and more standards and objectives begin to incorporate the use of technology, the art room at Clive Elementary has also begun to integrate technology in the facilitation and creation of projects aligning with the curriculum. Sixth grade students are rendering three-dimensional self-portraits in the iPad app Foldify.  These will be printed two-dimensionally, then folded and cut to become three-dimensional sculptures.  This project is paired with a self-portrait assemblage made of Model Magic, yarn, fabric and other assorted materials.  Sixth grade will also create stop-motion animations as they think through process, planning, movement, sequence, and audience. Fifth grade students have been creating self-portraits in the style of Roy Lichtenstein – primary colors and comic book-esque effects – in the ProCreate app.  This is facilitating their understanding of building artwork in layers, which applies to all art creation, not just that created digitally. The lower grades will explore photography basics and editing, and have been using exploratory art apps for understanding color theory, art concepts, elements and principles, and games interacting with art history.  The integration of iPads and other technology helps to supplement the art curriculum and challenge the young artists to think more critically and create in ways that weren’t possible only ten years ago.

Crestview Elementary Students in second grade at Crestview Elementary went on an imaginary trip through the landforms with Señora Tammy Dann.  They walked through the hallways looking for the landforms and animals they had been studying during their unit in Spanish class.  They described the landforms, sang songs, read books, retold a story learned the previous year and talked about the animals they saw.  They took many “pictures” with their paper cameras.  The next day they labeled their “pictures” and reviewed what they had seen on their trip through the landforms.

Crossroads Park Elementary The special education students at Crossroads Park has been busy tracing hands along with some mainstream classrooms.  A tree was then made in the hallway and their hands were used as the leaves for the tree.  They wanted to show how much they enjoy being read to by Melodee Grefe and picking library books every week.  The theme of the art work was “Fall Into Reading.” Students also decorated the tree with torn red, yellow and green construction paper apples.

Fifth grade social studies students at Crossroads Park have been learning through interactive simulations. In October, students pretended to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a 16th century explorer following the route of Christopher Columbus. They dealt with chance which allowed students to face challenges encountered by European explorers. Situations they faced included bugs in biscuits, rancid meat, getting off course and a ship running aground. Through simulations students use the vocabulary of the unit and develop a working understanding of the time period. The explorers simulation is the first of five simulations students will participate in throughout the year.  Currently, students are involved with Colonization in which they learning challenges faced when establishing a colony in the 1600s.Next, the American Revolution simulation will take place in which they take on the role of Patriots and Loyalists and look at primary source documents outlining the events of April 16, 1775, when the first shot of the revolution was fired. They will deal with the frustration that the colonists felt over taxation without representation and reenact the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. Later in the year, they  will simulate traveling west in a covered wagon and finally take sides in the Civil War, hoping to stay healthy and safe as they march to battle to bring the Union back together. The value of simulation is high engagement and it forces the students to think critically about situations faced by people in history. They have to make some of the same decisions that people from the past had to make. This type of learning is very motivational to the students and gives them a great base of background knowledge in understanding America’s past.

Jordan Creek Elementary Jordan Creek Tiger Cubs preschoolers toured the Hy-Vee on Mills Civic Parkway recently.  Both morning and afternoon classes participated.  Highlights of the tour included touching a lobster, seeing the bakery use frosting to write and the floral shop.  This tied into the preschoolers’ study of foods and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Grayson Ehrle, a third grader at Jordan Creek Elementary, and Olivia Roush, a sixth grader at Jordan Creek, were recently chosen as Kids of Character at the all school Character Counts assembly that focused on the character pillar of citizenship.  Kelly McQueen of State Savings Bank presented Grayson and Olivia with a Kid of Character award and a savings certificate to State Savings Bank.

Westridge Elementary Fourth grade students at Westridge Elementary are constructing a Body in a Box.  The students are learning about the human body and have selected an organ or body system that sparks their interest.  Students are learning how to take notes, use the internet for research, write an informational piece and will be constructing their body and putting it in a box.  Jacob McGreen is learning about the brain.  He commented, “I can’t wait to start researching!  This is the coolest thing I have EVER done.” When constructing their Body in a Box, they may use common household items, play-dough, modeling clay, model magic or anything else that they can find.  After completing their project, they will put it in a box for display.  Projects will be displayed around Westridge and students will showcase their hard work. Michael Neumann from 4A added, “It’s a lot of fun because you learn about something you never knew about.”  He is also learning about the brain.  Madison Miller from 4C is learning about the liver for her project.  She feels, “It was very interesting and fun to learn about body parts.  I didn’t know anything about the liver, but it was very fun to find out about the liver.”

Valley High School You can advertise your business while helping to provide scholarships to Valley and Walnut Creek students by being a sponsor for a home Valley basketball game or wrestling meet.  When Valley scores a three-pointer or gets a pin, your name or business will be announced in exchange for a $25 tax deductible donation to the WDMCS Student Scholarship Fund (maximum donation is $200 per game/meet).  Please complete the online form at or contact Andrea Masteller at as soon as possible if you would like your name/business to appear in the winter sports program; otherwise, the deadline to be a  sponsor is December 4.

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