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Life in the WDMCS 9/9/13

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.

Crestview Elementary
It’s that time of year again! Returning to school. Filling out forms. Providing information. One place that collects a lot of your child’s information is the nurse’s office. Each school in the WDMCS has one. Two of the most important pieces of information collected are your child’s immunization record and a yearly health update. The immunization record is required for school and helps keep your child up to date with their immunizations. If your child is new to the district, if your child has received new immunizations over the summer or does so in the next few weeks, please provide your school nurse with a copy of their record. The health update form informs your school’s nurse of important updates to your child’s health such as recent surgery, new allergies, new medications and more. If you haven’t filled one out this year, please ask for one or find it under Forms on the WDMCS Back to School Toolkit – Your school nurse is brought to you by the WDMCS and we’re here for you! Please stop in and get to know us!

Fairmeadows Elementary
The Fairmeadows Elementary Music Room has really been rockin’ to the beat with a unit on African drumming circles. This is a hands-on activity made possible by the WDMCS’ purchase of 17 African drums plus additional auxiliary percussion instruments. These drums are being used for approximately three weeks at Fairmeadows Elementary and then travel throughout the district for use by each of our elementary schools. The students experience playing polyrhythms as well as demonstrating rhythmic knowledge and abilities while having a great cooperative musical experience.

Hillside Elementary
Registration is now available for the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) test. BESTS students in grades 4-6 take Explore®, which is designed for eighth graders. It is recommended that students have at least one score in the 95th percentile or above on a core subject of a grade-level test, such as the Iowa Assessments. Each of the four sections (English, math, reading and science) takes 30 minutes to complete. The total testing time is approximately two hours. Students in grades 4-9 are eligible for BESTS if they score at the 95th percentile or above on any subtest of a grade-level standardized test such as the Iowa Assessments. To register online, visit:

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek third graders Ayden Price, Jack Nyberg, Zack Bessman, Reece Cooley, Rachel Heinen, Ryan Foust, Brynne Katcher and Reese Harty work in an assembly line to package food for Meals from the Heartland.
Jordan Creek third graders Ayden Price, Jack Nyberg, Zack Bessman, Reece Cooley, Rachel Heinen, Ryan Foust, Brynne Katcher and Reese Harty work in an assembly line to package food for Meals from the Heartland.

Jordan Creek third graders volunteered to help package food for Meals From the Heartland at the downtown Hy-Vee Hall. Students had to watch a training video about how to package before putting a vitamin into the bag. Then they had to put the correct amount of rice, soy and vegetables on top. The bag was then weighed and rice was either removed or added to make it the correct weight. Then the bag was sealed and packaged. Students had a great time working in an assembly line and working as a team. It was a wonderful experience for all.

Jordan Creek third graders Camryn Dilla and Camryn Bahe box up packages of food to help others in need.
Jordan Creek third graders Camryn Dilla and Camryn Bahe box up packages of food to help others in need.

Jordan Creek fifth grader Jonah Cutler runs around the track while Neal Marlett jumps rope and teammate Sejal Jain puts letters together to spell the words for the ABC Cardio game. In the background Ellie Burke, who was unable to run or jump because of an injury, was provided with an Air Dyne back where she could use her arms and still be part of her team.

Jordan Creek fifth grader Jonah Cutler runs around the track while Neal Marlett jumps rope and teammate Sejal Jain puts letters together to spell the words for the ABC Cardio game. In the background Ellie Burke, who was unable to run or jump because of an injury, was provided with an Air Dyne back where she could use her arms and still be part of her team.


For years now it has been shown through scientific research that we cannot maximize brain function without physical activity. Researchers at the University of Iowa indicated many years ago that the only way to build brain cells (axons, dendrites and the myelination of motor pathways) was the combination of activity and active thinking. At Jordan Creek Elementary, Lu Suarez’s physical education students play a game called ABC Cardio where students are given a word list relating to the unit of study and then accumulate letters to spell the words by choosing a type of activity. Students were learning about muscles in the body and had a list of 18 different muscles to try to spell. Fifth grade students will also study muscles in science to go deeper into the knowledge of how the body works. ABC Cardio was invented and copyrighted by Rob Chapman, Westridge Elementary physical education teacher and Valley girls soccer coach, and is now played in all WDMCS elementary schools as well as all across the country. Today’s physical education students will learn about muscles, bones and some basic physiology along with motor skills.

Phenix Elementary
Students in physical education classes at Phenix Elementary will begin assessing their fitness levels during the month of September, along with learning how to set goals for themselves for the school year. The assessments included: cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility, upper body strength, abdominal strength and flexibility. They will be learning about the components of fitness while taking turns leading their classmates through various exercises and activities to develop these fitness components. The students have just completed the Tiger Paw jog in which students can earn tiger coupons for each “heart work” lap completed. Students can jog or power walk during the class period. Phenix kids are on the road to healthy bodies and healthy choices!

Phenix Early Childhood Center uses a system called PBIS, which stands for Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. The PBIS mission for Phenix is to develop an environment of dignity and respect in which students will succeed academically and socially. The PBIS philosophy for Phenix will focus on celebrating positive behaviors using corrective teaching when students make inappropriate choices. We believe our purpose is to help students positively fulfill their needs and develop into happy and productive adults. We strive to be consistent in dealing with all children. All adults will teach, model, and reinforce good choices and social skills. Last week, all students rotated through centers in which behavior expectations were taught for common areas of the building. Expectations may be rewarded by giving a student a paper Tiger Paw which is deposited in a bucket in the area. Every Wednesday there is a drawing from each bucket with a list of activities for the winners to chose.

Westridge Elementary
Third graders at Westridge Elementary are busy learning the routines of reading workshop. They are learning how to “turn and talk” about books they listen to during read-aloud. In addition, they are learning the procedures for independent reading, partner reading, reading response, word study, and listen to reading. Some read-aloud book favorites include “The Day the Crayons Quit;” “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon;” and “A Bad Case of Stripes.”

Indian Hills Junior High
The Indian Hills Magazine Fundraiser is almost here. Magazine sales begin Sept. 18 and run through Oct. 1. All seventh and eighth grade students will be involved. This is the school’s one and only fundraiser for the year with proceeds going to support clubs, activities, student entry fees, band, orchestra, vocal, the weight room, the gym area, the library, drama, school play, mimes, field trips and other special projects such as art murals and after the bell throughout the year. The fundraiser also totally supports the athletic program including uniforms, officials, workers, supplies, equipment, and transportation. Please support our students by purchasing a magazine, electronic magazine, or CD. You may also order or have a friend or family member order any time throughout the year at the Indian Hills website. Prices are the same but 45 percent of the cost goes to Indian Hills. If you would rather, you may also make a straight donation. We will count every $10 donation as a magazine order. Thank you for your support!

Valley High School
The Valley High School Club and Activity Fair will be Friday, Sept. 13 from 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. in the VHS cafeteria commons. Representatives from the wide range of clubs and activities at Valley will be providing students information and recruiting new members. Students are encouraged to join in the fun and join a club! VHS club and activity representatives will be showcasing themselves at the Homecoming Carnival Thursday Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at Valley Stadium. The public is invited to see what the clubs and activities at Valley have to offer!

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Life in the WDMCS 5/28/13

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.

Crestview Elementary
After teaching for 31 years at Crestview Elementary, Sally Fort will be retiring at the end of this school year.  Sally taught third grade for 24 years, and then fourth grade to teach in a job share position. Sally also served in the mornings as a kindergarten assistant. She has served on many different district committees through the years, including Social Studies Adoption, Reading Adoption, Being a Writer, and United Way. During retirement Sally hopes to have time to start a new hobby, find her interests, and develop her talents. Crestview wishes Sally the best of luck in her retirement.

Breck Menz’s fourth grade class enjoyed painting after a recent Talking Canvas presentation.  The class enjoyed a discussion about “Fall Plowing” by Grant Wood and discussed painting their own piece.  The students were each given an art canvas to create their own masterpiece.

Hillside Elementary
The kindergarten classes at Hillside went on a fieldtrip to the Blank Park Zoo May 29. The children enjoyed the seeing the animals during the morning, followed by lunch together at Holiday Park.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Jordan Creek Elementary recently hosted a Challenge of the Books competition for WDMCS elementary schools.  Four schools had a combined 17 teams participate in the event.  Students read up to 20 books in order to prepare for the competition.  There were three teams that tied for first place, one team from Fairmeadows and two teams from Jordan Creek.

A group of Jordan Creek fourth and fifth grade students recently organized and facilitated their own I-Care Service Project at school to raise money for the Animal Rescue League (ARL).  The girls raised $362 by selling bracelets and pencil toppers they made. They are shown presenting their check to Lauren McGill from the ARL.

Phenix Elementary
Phenix third graders recently reviewed their library and research skills by playing Jammin’ Jeopardy.  The class was divided into six teams and played the game by stating their answer in the form of a question.  All questions had to do with material covered as part of their library/research instruction over the past year.  The students reviewed the sections of the media center, call numbers, books read aloud to them, parts of a book, sources of information, and other general questions about using a library media center.

Phenix third graders took their annual scuba diving field trip recently.  Scuba instructors from Leyden’s Dive Shop helped each student try to scuba at the Valley High School pool.  This is an experience that connects with the students’ study of Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.  Each child was able to put on a tank, regulator and swim in the pool with a certified diver.

Western Hills Elementary
The Kindergarten ESL students have been learning about transportation and safety.  Students sang songs, played board games, and read stories about different types of transportation to help remember vocabulary words.  These songs also helped the students with direction words.  Students completed an experiment with toy vehicles where they pushed, pulled and tried to roll the vehicles and discussed and wrote about how the vehicles moved. For the final project, students sorted transportation vehicles and created a class book to share about what we had learned during the transportation lesson.

Stilwell Junior High
On May 17, the team I students took a trip to Mitigwa.  The students participated in team building activities, survival strategies such as shelter building and fire building, and learned about map orienteering and compass reading.

Valley High School
Carol Englemann’s advanced speech class created a Readers Theater story to perform in front of a live audience.  Students in fourth hour speech, performed for a class of kindergartners and two classes of second graders at Fairmeadows. Other classes also visited this week and performed for third grade and fifth grade students.

Valley took four of the six top prizes at the Iowa Poetry Association Contest.  Students also earned special congratulations at large from the High School Division judge.  First Place to Rae Gernant for “Expression Revolution.”  Second Place to Natalie Colosimo for “The Ballerina.”  First Honorable Mention to Neevetha Sivagurunathan for “The Science Experiment,” and Second Honorable Mention to Tricia Shi for “Fall” There are also students to be published in Lyrical Iowa 2013.  Those students include Alicia Meng’s “Identification Required,” Shaan Madhan’s “Relax,” Andrew Novitskiy’s “Standardized Testing,” and Isabella Judge’s “Watchful Guardian.”

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Life in the WDMCS 5/13/13

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 Student Council is wrapping up another successful year.  This year nearly 80 second through sixth graders met monthly to help work to improve the school.  Among the projects this group undertook were a winter clothing drive, improving lunch room behaviors, decreasing bullying, counting box tops that raise valuable money for Clive programs and being role models for the rest of the student body.  The council members were led by presidents Maura Ortner and Brantley Cox, both sixth graders.  As a reward for successful year the members will be walking to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream treat.

Crestview Elementary The Crestview halls have been filled with music as students prepared for spring concerts and the sixth grade Honor Music Festival. This concert was held May 7 in the Valley Auditorium. Many Crestview students were involved in this concert because of 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 the sixth grade Honor Band: Alexa Nelson, Gabe Lockin, Natalie Bullard, Barbara Nicholson, Lauren Stetson, Austin Anfinson, Alison Whitaker, Anya Finkelshteyn and Abby Ringgenberg.

Crossroads Park Elementary The Crossroads Park Cougar Council held their annual Movie Night recently, raising more than $700. The Council is proud to donate $500 to the WDMCS Student Scholarship Fund and will use the rest for future events.  Many students stayed after school to set-up the event, worked vigorously in concessions helping the 200+ people who attended and then cleaned up to make the gym and kitchen spotless.  We are very proud of their hard work, leadership, and excellent example of good character. Student planners and workers were Cam Mears, Hanna Marcus, Greta Stewart, Samantha Morris, Emily Anders, Brett Shelton, Christina Melendez, Emma DeJong, Katie Richards, Kelly Dulaney, Ava Neppl, Lauren Schulze, Quinn Emison, Emily Strawn, Callie Kreps, Dakota Hayes-McCoy, Nate Bell, Shreya Gaddi, Derek Nguyen, Jessica Erickson, Ariel Corona, Leah Thomas and Malini De Jong.

Hillside Elementary Hillside had 13 students chosen to participate in the sixth grade Honors Festival May 7 at Valley. The students auditioned to be a part of the select groups and participated in morning rehearsals beginning in March. The concert features sixth graders from the around the district collaborating in band, orchestra, choir and handbells.  Honor Choir students from Hillside were Lawrence Byerly, Chloe Shoepke, Kendra Thompson, Cole Strelecki, Victoria Moreno, Amariah Williams, Kadin Kees, Erika Gomez and Isabella Garza; Honor Band students were Valerie Sihavong and Isabella Garza; and Honor Orchestra students were Kendra Thompson, Chloe Schoepke, Chloe Beem, Rose Blobaum and Adler Goodhall.

Jordan Creek Elementary Second grade students worked hard to honor their mothers for Mother’s Day.  Thank you to Dahl’s Grocery Store for providing letter writing papers and frames, as well as giving posters to each class to fill out to hang in our neighborhood grocery store.  We appreciate the donation of these supplies. Students also made special cards that included a drawing of their mothers, a poem, and a picture of each student holding a vase of colorful flowers that we called a “forever bouquet.”  Everyone is very thankful for their mother, and all she does to help make the days go well!

The 13th annual WDMCS Math Bowl was held on May 2 at Indian Hills Junior High.  Jordan Creek was represented by third graders Andy Haugen, Anika Jain, Noah Pins, Rahul Reddy, Layne Slater, Tyson Trimble, Ryan Wirtz and Elaine Wang; fourth graders Pierce Blazek, Jimmy Hall, Segal Jain, Andy Kuster, Heather Nguyen, Gabe Schebel, Aditi Tripathy and Jalyn Wu; fifth graders Veda Amalkar, Avery Merkley, Caroline Ash, David Carpenter, Animesh Joshi, Clara Mintzer, Elyse Porter and Kevin Qi; and sixth graders Jackson Froscheiser, Jessica Haugen, David Head, James Meng, Shuvethan Sivagurunathan, Evan Porter, Nicky Trane and Radha Velamuri. The district recognizes students who scored in the top 10 percent of the district in their grade level test.  James Meng and Veda Amalkar both received recognition for this honor.

Phenix Elementary The cast of “Seussical, the Musical” from the Des Moines Playhouse visited first and second graders at Phenix Elementary. The cast shared some of their favorite lines from the play, showed the students some of the props used and even sang some songs from the show.  The visit ended with the cast giving every student their own copy of the book “Horton Hears a Who” for their keepsake.  The cast then read the book with small groups of students.  Phenix took a field trip to see the live performance on April 29.  After the performance, students wrote letters to the cast.  Each student will receive a written response from the actors.  What a great opportunity these children have had seeing literature brought to life!

Westridge Elementary Second graders at Westridge Elementary have several things to look forward to in the month of May. They will travel to the Botanical Center where the students will explore and learn about fascinating plants. This trip will be the culminating activity for a plant unit where they have been studying and growing plants of their own.  While in Des Moines, the second graders will also tour the State Capitol. Some of the highlights will include the State Senate and House of Representatives Chambers, the Law Library, the doll case, Westward mural, mosaics, interior dome and a model of the USS Iowa. To celebrate a love for reading, the second graders will also enjoy their last Book and Bag at the park. The Book and Bag celebration is a reward for completing independent reading throughout the month. Students will have the opportunity to enjoy great literature, play games with their classmates and have a picnic in the park.

Stilwell Junior High Congratulations to Stilwell Team I’s Pam Chander for being the eighth grade Iowa winner in the “Letters about Literature” contest.  Over 1,400 letters were entered in the junior high level and Pam took the top prize.  She received $75 and her letter was moved on to the national level.  On May 3, Pam read her award-winning letter during a recognition ceremony held at the Des Moines Public Library.  Team I also had semi-finalists in Catie Judge and Garry Reineke, and Guowei Chi was a finalist. Their teacher is Kay Woods. From Team T, Alanna Maxwell was a semi-finalist and Sam Cole was a finalist.  Their teacher is Katie Seiberling. From Team G, Maddie Perdue was a semi-finalist and her teacher is Kerry Bootsma.

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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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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.