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Life in the WDMCS 1/27/14

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Elementary Clive Student Council sponsored a school-wide Twin Day to help raise money for indoor recess activities. Children were invited to find a friend, plan to dress alike, and bring in a free will donation to help purchase indoor recess activities. Together we were able to raise almost $200. Thank you to all the students and staff that participated to help break the boredom of indoor recess. Way to go Clive Tigers!

Hillside Elementary Second grade students at Hillside are currently working within the artful learning unit “Balance and Motion”. The significant question for this unit is, “How does balance affect our world?” Students in Brittany Bowers’ class explored the concept of balance and how it can be achieved with different objects and shapes. By using weights and counterweights, students learned how to balance out a card stock crayfish using two clothespins. Students were given time to find different balance points on the crayfish and compare their findings with other children in class.

Congratulations to Elyssa Parkingson, Mabel Teed, Courtney Ahlrichs, Maddy Anderson, Taylor Coe, Mia Rand and Sophia Epstein for having their art work selected to represent Hillside Elementary in the Impact of Art XXIV exhibition showcasing the student talent of West Des Moines Community Schools . An artist reception and celebration was held January 23 and the show shall remain on exhibition in the education wing of the Des Moines Art Center until the end of the month. Hillside Tiger Pride honors two hardworking artists: Kauai Cua and Jacob Holt. These students were awarded Spring Art Center Scholarships so that they may attend classes at the Des Moines Art Center and continue to develop their talents as creative visual artists.

Hillside families came out to enjoy a soup supper and Open House January 23. Students’ hard work was on display for their families to enjoy in classrooms throughout the building. Students were able to deposit money into their Kids First Bank accounts, a program sponsored by First Bank that encourages students to develop the habit of saving money for the future. Kids First Bank is open every Wednesday morning before school for students to make deposits or to open new savings accounts.

Jordan Creek Elementary Second graders at Jordan Creek have dived into an ocean unit and are learning many new things about the ocean and all that lives in the massive body of water. Students researched about a certain ocean animal. They gathered information from books and web sites and filled in a graphic organizer. From there they wrote a rough draft and then typed out their final copy. With the help of their parents, students created a visual aid of their ocean creature in their habitat to go along with their report.

Fifth grade students in Jeri Daniels’ class presented a Reader’s Theatre and shared activities with their first grade buddies to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The two classes worked together to create a little book about King’s life which the first graders read to their buddies. The classes also discussed the importance of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Students then shared their own dreams for making life better.

Kirby Van Der Kamp, Valley graduate and senior at Iowa State University, visited the fifth and first graders at Jordan Creek. Kirby was a volunteer at Jordan Creek when in high school and has come back to spend time with the students and visit with them about their education, football and his experiences. Van Der Kamp has been the punter for Iowa State the past four years and is expected to be drafted into the NFL. Fifth grade students posed as ESPN announcers with their prepared questions to conduct their interview with Kirby. Students also viewed pictures of Van Der Kamp throughout the six years volunteering and visiting at Jordan Creek as well as football pictures. Kirby talked with the students about his life as a students and an athlete, traveling with teams, overcoming challenges, working hard in school, participating in extracurricular activities, and encouraged students to try new activities and classes. The session ended with an open question and answer time. Students wished him good luck in the Senior Bowl on January 25.

The school-level National Geographic Geography Bee was held at Jordan Creek with more than 30 students in fourth through sixth grade participating. These students reviewed and applied geography concepts during practices after school on Wednesdays and before school on Fridays. All of the students who participated showed an impressive amount of geographical knowledge. The school champion was sixth grader Jay Chevuru, second place was sixth grader Arun Ganga and third place was fourth grader Mia Dukle. Jay has now taken the qualifying test to see if he will compete in the state-level National Geographic Geography Bee this spring. Students who compete at the state level will have the opportunity to win an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Geography Bee.

Phenix Elementary The Phenix Tiger Cubs Preschool classes took a walking tour through Valley Junction as a part of their unit of study on buildings. Students compared the different building materials, colors, shapes and sizes of the buildings. They took pictures of buildings and construction sites to use in the classroom as they continue the investigation comparing buildings in the neighborhood with others around the world. Students will also be investigating how buildings are build, who builds buildings, what materials are used to make buildings, and what happens inside different buildings.

Valley High School Winter weather got you singing the blues? Change your tune with a night of jazz Friday, January 31 at 7 p.m. during the 2014 Valley Vocal Jazz Summit. The concert will be held at Valley Church, 4343 Fuller Road, West Des Moines. The concert will feature the Valley Jazz Choirs, jazz choirs from other area high schools and clinician and guest artist Greg Jasperse. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Congratulations to Valley Drama for a great showing at the IHSSA speech contest. Valley entered 23 large group acts and set a school record by having all 23 advance to state.

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Life in the WDMCS 1/21/14

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

District Valley Archery took home first place in the elementary and middle school divisions, while placing second in the high school division at the Des Moines Metro Challenge at Johnston High School. In the elementary division, the Jordan Creek girls swept the top three slots with Tessa Morgan placing fist with 228 out of 300, Cynnava McAvoy placing second with 213 and Kaci Kopf placing third with 193. Jordan Creek’s Kaleb Sander placed first in the boys division with a 222 score. In the middle school division, Stilwell’s Mitchell O’Meara placed first with a score of 278 and Joe Adamson was second with 272. Stilwell’s Katherine Van Arnum was the top finisher for the girls, placing fourth with a 256. Valley’s top finishers were Ella Bishop in third with a score of 266 and Ryan Johnston placing third with a 281.

Clive Elementary Clive Elementary students participated in a Rock In Prevention assembly Friday, January 10.  Rock In Prevention teaches children to live happy healthy drug free lives and prevent bullying.  During the assembly students enjoyed singing and dancing to the rockin’ music.  All students acted out different scenarios to demonstrate how to stop bullying.  Sixth grade students from Clive were selected to be leaders and help out during all of the assemblies.  Follow-up guides and CD’s were sent home with every student to continue to encourage students to make healthy decisions in all life areas.

Crossroads Park Elementary An adult English class is being offered to Crossroads Park Elementary parents who want to increase their English skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing.  This class is offered through West Des Moines Community Education and is held at Crossroads Park Elementary on Tuesday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. during the months of January and February.    Former second grade teacher, Jana Foley, is instructing the class.

Fairmeadows Elementary Fairmeadows Elementary students in Rhonda DeRocher’s first grade class recently enjoyed stories read by Carol Engelmann’s Valley High School advanced speech class.

Hillside Elementary Fifth grade band students at Hillside Elementary are working very hard this month in preparation for the annual All-District Band Spectacular held at Valley Southwoods on Tuesday February 11 at 6:30 p.m. Students from across the district have been preparing a wide variety of short pieces, showcasing their development in musicianship and playing technique since beginning their instruments in September. The 57-member Hillside fifth grade band, led by director Jake Strachan, also meets for weekly small-group lessons, allowing students to focus on instrument-specific technique development, fingerings, and other playing skills. This lesson time is crucial in fulfilling the individual needs of young instrumentalists in their first few years of playing. WDMCS band directors hope to continue and further improve the district’s strong band program traditions through large annual collaborations like the All-District Fifth Grade Band Spectacular, the 6-12 grade All-District Marching Band performance at Valleyfest, and our Sixth Grade Honor Band, which will perform with the other Sixth Grade Honor ensembles in May.

Robbie Robinson’s class, and the rest of the third grade at Hillside Elementary, is just finishing a unit on transformation.  This theme has guided the students through several exploratory projects that included the creation of painted tissue paper art inspired by Eric Carle and the construction of a PowerPoint and model planet the students have been studying independently.  This unit has been very exciting and educational for the students and has encompassed a wide range of learning modalities. In addition to some excellent class projects, the third graders will soon be resuming their hip-hop classes with Robinson.  The dance classes have been an excellent way for students to learn a contemporary form of movement that is both fun and a treat for the cardiovascular system.  The class has been exposed to traditional top rock and six-step movements that hark back to the foundations of breakdancing.  With almost 60 students, the hip-hop class has been an exciting and invigorating addition to the multitude of Hillside Elementary extracurricular activities.

Jordan Creek Elementary The Jordan Creek Chorus is busy preparing for their upcoming March concerts.  The chorus is an extracurricular ensemble that rehearses before school on Monday and Friday mornings.  Currently 118 fifth and sixth graders are in the chorus; music teacher Amy Hachmann is the director.  The students are singing literature from a variety of genres for their performances.  Families, neighbors, friends and community members are invited to attend the evening concert on Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Jordan Creek gymnasium.

Students at Jordan Creek elementary are enjoying the opportunity to read more in Spanish.  Thanks to the district leadership, schools were provided money in the fall for Hispanic Heritage month.  Candace Sherwood, Spanish teacher, along with the help of Kristy Skoglund, media center staff, selected bilingual and Spanish books to add to the collection.  We are excited that students will have more choices in their selections at the media center. Since students only have Spanish class for an hour a week, this is an excellent opportunity to provide additional practice. During class, students love hearing and reading in another language.  How can you beat a story about Froggy or Curious George in Spanish?  Students DO understand even if they don’t know every word!  Students who read in Spanish develop a richer vocabulary. Studies have shown that reading in both languages enhances language proficiency in both Spanish and English. Another reading opportunity is provided through a new Scholastic program called Club Leo.  Jordan Creek students in third grade are able to purchase books and develop their own libraries at home.  Due to the success of this program, other grade levels will probably be added in the future.  What a delight to see students excited about reading outside of class.  Through books we are able to extend the FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools) into the community.Reading is just one reason that the FLES program has been very successful.  We incorporate reading, writing, listening, speaking, and culture into our curriculum.  Recently, a team of Cedar Falls teachers requested a visit to Jordan Creek to observe and find out more about our program.  Their district is implementing a similar program and they chose our school as an exemplary model.  They were impressed with the language proficiency of the students at all grade levels.  Indeed, students in West Des Moines are fortunate to benefit from learning another language.  At Jordan Creek the students will now be learning even more with the addition of reading materials.

Valley High School Pasta for Prom Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser will be held Friday, January 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Valley’s north gym. Meal includes caesar salad, pasta (marinara or alfredo sauce), breadsticks and beverage.  Desserts will also be available for purchase.  Tickets are $7 in advance (recommended) or $8 at the door and $6 for children ages six and under. Contact Kelli King at or 633-4258, if you have questions. All proceeds will go to help fund the Valley prom April 12.

All juniors in an Iowa high school or a home-school program are eligible to apply for this award honoring the 31st U.S. President and his accomplishments. Approximately 15 Iowa high school juniors who propose, and then accomplish, projects of their own design will receive $1,000 awards, with three students going on to receive $5,000 scholarships. Full details are available in the Counseling Center, and online at The application deadline is March 31, 2014.

Congrats to Choralation on being named Grand Champion of the Waukee Star Struck Show Choir Invitational Jan. 18. Other honors included Best Vocals, Best Show Band and Best Female Soloist to Emma Stier. Ignition also had a great showing, placing second out of 10 choirs in the prep division. Choralation is coached by Ryan Deignan and Ignition is coached by Haley Gibbons.

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Life in the WDMCS 1/8/14

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Crestview Elementary
So, you don’t feel well? Are you wondering what you’ve got? Now that it’s cold and snowy and students are inside most of the time in close quarters with many others, some get sick more often. Generally, nurses see cases of the common cold (viral upper respiratory infection), influenza (the flu) or a viral illness causing gastrointestinal issues. Colds typically do not occur with a fever but occur with a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and a cough.  There’s nothing you can take to protect yourself from the typical cold.  Symptoms are sometimes managed with over the counter preparations to make you feel better. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.  The flu is commonly seen with a fever of 100-104, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose and a cough.  You can protect yourself each year by receiving an annual flu shot or the flu mist.  Once you’ve got the flu, see your doctor within two days and they may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help you get over the flu quicker. The other viral illnesses we see at schools this time of year are the illnesses that cause problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache and more.  Some people refer to these illnesses as the flu but it is actually not the flu.  Over the counter medicines may help you feel better as your body fights these illnesses. The single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and your children this winter from illness is to wash your hands and do so frequently.  Keep fingers out of places like noses, mouths, and eyes.  Get the flu shot if you still need one this year.  And of course, stay home if you are sick, especially if you or your child has a fever over 100.

Crossroads Park Elementary
Crossroads Park Elementary has some new art sculptures in its waiting area. They are a memorial to Jan Kennedy, a long-time Crossroads sixth grade teacher who passed away. The sculptures were done by an Iowa artist from Ottumwa. He created the sculptures specifically for the space and the students. Jan loved eagles, so that is the memory to her. The tree and nest are symbolic of the students starting out in the nest with our care and nurturing and then going off to soar like eagles when they leave us. He also put in some items that the kids may enjoy searching for. There is a little owl in the front of the tree, a bike chain in the back of the nest and also a railroad spike. There may be others. He treated all of the metal in a way that makes is safe to the touch. As you pass by, have a look.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Holiday sights and sounds were in abundance when the lively 23rd Street Singers went performed at Fairmeadows Village and Valley West Mall in December. Students were then greatly surprised when Santa passed out candy canes while they ate at the food court.  The 116-member group also performed along with the Fairmeadows 6th Grade Band to a packed house in the Fairmeadows gym.  Selections performed included “Showbiz Snowman,” “Winter Jubilation,” “We Wish You a Swingin’ Holiday” and “Light the Candles.”

Hillside Elementary
Hillside English as a Second Language (ESL) students in first grade had the opportunity to do some baking. They enjoyed making candy pretzels using pretzels, Hershey kisses and M&M’s. During the cooking session not only did they learn how to make a fun and easy treat, but they learned some new vocabulary that they are not exposed to every day.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Reader’s theater is a regular component of the WDMCS literacy program.  Students work together in small groups for one week on each script.  The purpose of reader’s theater is to improve fluency.  Students focus on different aspects of fluency – such as appropriate pausing, pacing and expression – with each skit.  Each group is made up of students at a variety of different reading levels providing opportunities for all readers to model their reading skills.  At the end of the week, groups perform their polished skit for their classmates.

Westridge Elementary
The Westridge Singers gave concerts in December at the West Des Moines Public Library and the Learning Resource Center. The group continues to practice every Friday morning, getting ready for its last two events of the season. On Fri., Jan. 31, the Westridge Singers will perform at Wesley Acres Retirement Center.  On Fri., Feb. 7, the chorus will present their final concert of the year in the Westridge gym at 9:30 a.m. Parents of Westridge Singers students are invited to this special performance.  Thank you for bringing your child to all those early morning rehearsals!

Stilwell Junior High
Every year, Stilwell’s Team I holds a Winter Walkathon to raise money for Toys for Tots with its annual Winter Walk-a-thon.  Students braved the very bitter cold to walk and raise money.  Along with the cash donation, new toys were also collected.  After the walk-a-thon, the top pledge-getters got to go shopping at Toys R Us.

Valley High School/Valley Southwoods
Valley Archery competed in their first tournament this weekend at Mt. Vernon. More than 800 archers from around the state represented 27 different schools.  From West Des Moines, archery teams competed from Jordan Creek Elementary, Stilwell Junior High, Valley Southwoods and Valley High School. Jordan Creek finished in fifth place in the elementary division, their top scorer was Ryan Wirtz.  Stilwell Jr High also finished in fifth place for the middle school competition, with Mitchell O’Meara as the top archer.  The VSW and VHS combined team also finished in fifth place in the high school division, with the top archer being Sarah Kuhlman and Robby Weissinger.

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