Skip to content

School News

Hillside Students Make a Difference in Community

Together We Can Make a Difference

Hillside’s Student Council’s focus this year is helping others and making a difference in the community they are a part of.  Each month the group concentrations on one organization that they would like Hillside to help.  Students at all grade levels rallied to support the causes.


Hillside Student Council presents check from their Penny Harvest to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In October students collected $2247.68 during a Penny Harvest for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Currently Hillside is supporting Food Bank of Iowa’s Combat Hunger Campaign.  More than one-thousand items have been collected in the past two weeks.  Students get to vote for their favorite Iowa college football team by placing the items they bring in the team’s collection box.  Each item is a vote of support for their team. “Student Council really wants to help the students understand that giving back is an important part of who Hillside is,” said Kayla Woodke, student council sponsor. “We want them to feel good about helping others and know that when we work together as a school we can help our community.” Students will continue their service projects in December where they will be giving their time and talents to Blanks Children’s Hospital.  Student Council members are making tie blankets and students throughout the school are decorating birthday bags to brighten the lives of children who are in the hospital during this holiday season.


Hillside Students’ Art Part of New Community Displays

Congratulations to the following Hillside artists for having their artwork selected for a gallery show at Barnes and Nobles store on University. We are really excited for the opportunity to have such a wonderful public display opportunity! The show shall be on display until December. Kindergarten artists: art work in children’s section upper level. Athena Arbs, Rami Atchinson, Peyton Boat, Barrett Braun, Hannah Courtney, Cole Friedrichs, Jazla Jalali, Jose Loera Ramirez, Ethan Kendrick, Madison Kenwabikise, Anna Nong, Gabriela Pimental Berber, Miles Purvis, Scarlett Ramirez Gonzales, Lhotse Samuelson, Peter Schellenberger, Brayden Schoeberl, Landon Van Dyke, Olivia Welch, Owen Woods. 6th grade artists: artwork in café. Madison Allen, Brandi Barr, Colby Burke, Cayden Claiser, Bobby Cobine, Reagan Demmon, Leslie Dominguez, Sean Eddy, Hannah Felsen,Callie Gillespie,  Lauren Gilmore, Umer Iman, Ashlyn Laybon, Maria Morquecho-Ruiz, Maisy O’Hern, Jessica Paulus, Mia Rand, Nathan Sawyer,  Brandon Stubbs, Kobe Tanchinh, Merideth Young. Special recognition to the following Hillside students for having artwork chosen to be a part of a grand opening display at the new Valley High School Performing Arts Auditorium. : Noemy Berber, Kauai Cua, Yadira Dominguez, Jaelynn George, Brody Krysa, Norah Shires.


Hillside Honored for Breaking Education Barriers

Hillside Elementary has been honored with the Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award by the State Board of Education for its work to raise achievement among students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom. Each year, the award recognizes news-hd-breaking-barriers-awardsuccessful efforts to eliminate gaps in achievement among students.

Hillside Elementary was recognized for its work with English language learners (ELL), noting that the proficiency rate for Hillside’s ELL students is 70 percent in reading and math. That compares to a statewide average of 49 percent for the same group of students.

I believe this award is reflective of the hard work all of the Hillside teachers conduct with our children daily,” said Principal Dr. Robert Davis. “Our staff strives to help our students acquire a deep understanding of how the English language works.”

At Hillside, teachers are data driven. They set monthly achievement goals for all students. Then, they progress monitor every child to ensure students make the necessary growth to be proficient in reading, writing and mathematics.

“It is our teachers’ relentless focus on making sure all of our students are achieving high standards every day that has made the difference with our English Language Learners,” added Dr. Davis.

This year’s award-winners were recognized for having the highest proficiency rates statewide in math and reading among a specific subgroup of students, such as students who do not speak English as their native language and students from low-income backgrounds. State assessment data from five years were examined to confirm a positive trend for each school. Interviews with school principals revealed a common thread between the honored schools: the use of evidence-based practices, a staff-wide commitment, high expectations and substantial teacher collaboration.


Boundary Committee Recommends New Map to Superintendency

At its Monday, Nov. 17 meeting, the Boundary Committee voted to recommend Map C5 to the superintendency.

Based on feedback from three public forums and an online survey, the superintendency developed two additional options – C4 and C5 – for the committee to review.

Map Options

The committee also recommended maintaining the current timeline to bring a proposal to the School Board on Monday, Nov. 24 and a final decision on Monday, Dec. 8.



School: , , , , , , , ,

It’s a Great Pumpkin Patch at Jordan Creek

Jordan Creek Teacher Librarian Kristi Skoglund with her pumpkin character, Fly Guy.

Jordan Creek Teacher Librarian Kristi Skoglund with her pumpkin character, Fly Guy.

Jordan Creek Elementary has taken pumpkin decorating and the love of reading to a new level with more than 120 pumpkins lining the bookshelves in the school’s media center.

These aren’t your ordinary decorated pumpkins. Kristy Skoglund, the school’s teacher librarian, asked students and families to decorate a pumpkin as their favorite book character and bring them to the media center to display. The first step in the project, though, was to read the book together.

“It’s all about trying to get kids and families together as a community of readers,” said Skoglund.

One student not only decorated a pumpkin, they created a character and wrote their own book!

One student not only decorated a pumpkin, they created a character and wrote their own book!

She had seen the idea several places online, but decided this year she would take the plunge and see what the response would be. She created her own pumpkin to show students and get their creative juices flowing. She never imagined what the end result would be.

“We have the most creative parents and kids,” Skoglund said. “We have had hot glue guns, felt…one dad said he even brought out the power tools. There is an amazing amount of talent around here.”

Not only was the project a fun one, but it has created some nice side effects. Parents and grandparents are coming to the media center before and after school with their kids to see all the different characters and Skoglund can barely keep the books that go with the pumpkins on the shelves. Even classics like Elmer the Elephant have become popular again.

Elmer the Elephant has become popular once again due to the Jordan Creek pumpkin project.

Elmer the Elephant has become popular once again due to the Jordan Creek pumpkin project.

“It’s all about trying to celebrate reading,” said Skoglund. “It’s odd because Elmer hasn’t circulated for a long time. He is a really old book and can sit on the shelf for a long time and then all of a sudden he’s a big hit again.”

Not only are the pumpkins a hit with the families at Jordan Creek, they’ve become a hit with the authors of the books as well. Skoglund took to Twitter and Tweeted pictures of the students with the pumpkins to a few of the authors and received some excited responses.

One was from Laura Numeroff, author of the series If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If you Give a Pig a Pancake. Skoglund Tweeted “This little guy was so proud of his mouse pumpkin that he based on your Mouse!!”

To which Numeroff replied, “He is absolutely adorable! Please tell him I said HAPPY HALLOWEEN, and I’m thrilled that he chose MOUSE for his pumpkin!”

This pumpkin of Mouse received a reply tweet from the author, Laura Numeroff.

This pumpkin of Mouse received a reply tweet from the author, Laura Numeroff.

You can find more photos of the students with their pumpkin characters on the Jordan Creek Facebook page.


Facebook Album 1

Facebook Album 2



Fourth Graders Skype with Secretary of Agriculture

jc-news-secretary-agriculture1Jordan Creek fourth graders had the unique experience to Skype with Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.    He was on his farm four hours away in Northwest Iowa and showed students a corn field, his combine, how to harvest corn and he answered many questions.

He explained many aspects of being a farmer such as maintenance of his combine, price of crops, price of equipment, getting farming assistance while he is working in Des Moines and how damage to crops affects his routine (hail/deer).  The students were especially amazed with the combine…both inside and out.







Boundary Committee Meets October 21

School: , , , , , , , , ,

Life in the WDMCS 10/13/14

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 Wide

The Polk County Health Department is sponsoring a flu clinic at Hillside on Monday, Nov. 3 from 4-7 p.m. This clinic is open to the students, faculty, and families of West Des Moines Community Schools. It is also open to all of the community, so feel free to invite family, friends and neighbors!Most insurances are accepted and some students may qualify for a free vaccine.

Clive Elementary

Fifth graders in Julie Pargeon’s class at Clive Elementary are practicing their reading pace and expression with Reader’s Theater. The kids enjoy acting out a part in a play and performing it for their classmates. They also focus on how to present effectively by speaking clearly, with appropriate volume, and making eye contact with the audience. Props and costumes are optional and give the students a chance to make the play come alive. They will do skits throughout the year, allowing students to develop fluency and presentation skills while having so much fun!

Clive Elementary had 14 students participate in the Native-Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl at the Learning Resource Center. This quiz bowl is for students in fourth and fifth grades who already know how to speak Spanish. These students played games against other WDMCS schools, all in Spanish, and enjoyed the traditional Mexican dessert of churros for a snack. Congratulations to the following Clive Elementary students for representing their school: fourth graders Julisa Hernandez, Rogelio Barron-Madrid, Gary Grijalva, Hannia Ruiz-Ugalde, Derek Corona, Melina Reverol, Simon Mulford, Briggette Escarino; fifth graders Janet Bustos, Madvin Grijalva, Alexandra Lopez, Karina Suarez, Cesar Martinez, Citlaly Lopez.

First graders at Clive Elementary have been studying insects over the past couple of weeks. They have learned many things including the characteristics of insects, the life cycle of a butterfly, and how insects and humans are alike and different. During this unit, the students learned that insects have three body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. They also learned that they have six legs and two antennae. One of the most exciting parts of this unit was watching our real, live caterpillars form chrysalises and come out as butterflies. It was a great learning experience to watch the life cycle happen!

Crestview Elementary

Crestview fourth graders have been working on Lego Self Portraits in art class. They studied Lego mini figures to identify which geometric shapes could be used to draw a Lego style portrait. Students chose their expression and hairstyle, then designed a background that represented either a favorite place or a goal for the future.

Crossroads Park Elementary

The fourth and fifth grade Native Spanish Speakers across the District were invited to attend the Native Speakers Quiz Bowl. Attendees from Crossroads Park were Ben Lepe-Guerero, Obed Masungu, Alan Chavez, Brian Ruiz-Patino, Kenya Gomez-Rodriguez, Jasmine Villanueva, Evelin Alvarado, Abisai Garcia, Marcelo Carreras, Karime Salamanca and German Sanchez. The students learned a new dance and were treated to games and refreshments to celebrate their culture and language. Grandview University personnel and students were on hand to facilitate the activities. It was a great time to appreciate the Latino culture, learn new things, and make new friends.

On October 17, Crossroads will host its First Annual RACE Day Run/Walk! This event is one of three fundraisers the school’s PTA will sponsor this year. Instead of sales fundraisers, the PTA will be focused on fitness or education for its fundraising, as in the math and reading challenges to follow in February and April. As a result, all proceeds go directly to our school! Students will spend 30-60 minutes running and walking around the designated course. In case of inclement weather, RACE Day will be held on Monday, Oct. 20.

Crossroads Park staff and students are determined to help Iowa become the healthiest state. PE Teacher Chad Barnes mowed a 1K track behind the school. During the Healthiest State Walk on Oct. 8, 455 students and teachers took a turn walking the track.

To promote anti-bullying and a sense of community at Crossroads Park, staff have involved every student in a Cool CREW (Crossroads Respects, Everyone Welcome)! Every faculty member at Crossroads Park has a CREW of about 12 children made up of students from every grade. Each month staff spend time with their CREW participating in activities. The Cool CREW activity for the month of October will revolve around Red Ribbon Week and also talking about the character trait of trustworthiness. We plan on hanging the posters in the hallways and the classrooms with doors will have large paper posters hung on their doors.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Deb Augspurger’s general music class at Fairmeadows Elementary recently hosted Johnny Koenig, a young star accordion player who specializes in polka music. Third grade students were excited to learn how an accordion works and to see Koenig perform. A special treat was when Stephanie Wilson, WDMCS director of curriculum, showed students how to dance the polka. The students enjoyed giving it a try.

Sixth graders from Fairmeadows Elementary had the opportunity to explore the Engeldinger Marsh. At the marsh, they looked for microorganisms found in pools of water. They also did an ecology study where they found numerous crayfish and frogs. The sixth graders came back to school with muddy shoes and clothes but with a higher level of appreciation for the wetland.

Fairmeadows Elementary had 12 students participate in the Native-Speaker Spanish Quiz Bowl at the Learning Resource Center. This quiz bowl is for students in fourth and fifth grades who already know how to speak Spanish. These students played games against other WDMCS elementary schools, all in Spanish, and enjoyed the traditional Mexican dessert of churros for a snack. Congratulations to the following students for representing Fairmeadows: fourth graders Ernesto Jurado, Leslie Perez, Raquel Paz, Luca Santana, Santi Tapia; fifth graders Arturo Perez, Anjel Tapia, Alex Bacilio, Adolfo Jurado, Louis Lara, Oscar Lara, Kenneth Yanqui.

Fairmeadows Elementary fourth graders went to the Red Feather Prairie to learn about the prairie habitat – the animals, plants, and grasses – that used to live in Iowa. Students built tipis, caught and released insects and played a game to learn about how the ecosystem stays in balance. We also had the opportunity to see and touch a variety of animal pelts, as well as learn how the pelt was tanned. Many were surprised to learn that the animal’s brain was used to tan the hide and that every part of the bison served a purpose.

 Hillside Elementary

Kindergartners at Hillside recently met with their new Tiger Pals. Each kindergartner was paired with a sixth grade buddy who will be their Tiger Pal for the remainder of the school year. Tiger Pals meet once a month for 30 minutes and complete special activities the kindergartners might not be able to otherwise complete independently. Tiger Pal activities give kindergarten and sixth grade students an opportunity to develop caring and respectful relationships and demonstrate good citizenship skills at school…and who doesn’t love making a new friend!

First graders at Hillside are finding connections to each other, music, art and the world around them. On a recent field trip to Raccoon River they explored the world of insects and how many bugs live in communities just like us. Students spent time outdoors using their senses to connect to nature. The listened, looked, smelled, and felt many living things. Once they returned to Hillside they used what they had experienced to build an environmental soundscape– adding art and music to connect to the sights and sounds of nature.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Jordan Creek third graders have been studying the rainforest as their first science unit this year. They were extremely fortunate to have two culminating activities that brought the world of the rainforest to life. A zookeeper from Blank Park Zoo visited Jordan Creek and brought some of her zoo friends along. The kids were very excited to touch the animals and hear the wealth of information the zookeeper had to share. The entire school also participated in a cell phone recycling drive for the Blank Park Zoo. The zoo will take the old cell phones and recycle the materials. This will benefit the Orangutan Conservation Program to help with deforestation.

Third graders also recently travelled to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Chaperoned by many wonderful parent volunteers and the third grade teaching team, the 3rd graders enjoyed a guided tour of the Lied Rainforest exhibit where everything they had been learning in the classroom came to life. The kids got to see real examples of many of the plants and animals they had been learning about. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Learning to make a tipi, listening to Native American stories, canoeing, and building a shelter were a few of the activities fifth graders from Jordan Creek participated in during their overnight field trip to the YMCA camp near Boone. In correlation with their woodlands unit in science and their Native American studies students were able to participate in activities to reinforce their learning. Naturalist Mike organized the activities with the assistance of fifth grade teachers. Students learned about ecology and taking care of our environment. They were divided into groups and rotated to different stations where they learned the history of the tipi and set one up. They were all able to sit inside and hear how the Native Americans adapted to the world around them. Stream ecology was another area of learning where students found and identified critters in the stream. Wilderness survival had the students creating their own survival hut from lots, limbs, and leaves around them. A discovery hike and canoeing rounded out the stations and kept the students busy during their time. The fifth graders, teachers, and chaperones also participated in a night hike.

Western Hills Elementary

First grade is busy learning about insects! The class went on an insect hunt with its buddy class and found grasshoppers, butterflies, dragonflies and lots of bees. Working with a buddy class gives younger students the opportunity to learn from older students who are also studying insects. It gives the older students the chance to be “experts” and mentors to the younger students. Students then took their insects back to the room to observe them.

Westridge Elementary

Sixth grade students from Westridge Elementary spent two days at Springbrook Conservation Education Center learning about the environment. Students participated in activities focusing on conservation, survival, team building and appreciation of the environment. Students studied the pond at Springbrook finding and identifying many different organisms as well as testing the health of the pond. One of the favorite activates was building survival shelters. The sixth graders also learned about how our daily lives affect the water supply as well as the effects of erosion. The final activity taught the students how to appreciate the trees and to take time to enjoy the beauty around us. Other activities that the students participated in included an Earthwalk, scavenger hunt, deer hike and campfire. Students enjoyed the hands-on learning outside of the school walls. Community and relationship building was a huge objective that was well received by all participants including students, parents, and teachers. This field trip is unique in the sense that the students spend one night away from home with parent volunteers and teachers. They enjoy the time working on academics as well as team building and building character.

Valley High School

Valley social studies teachers Dan Kelly and Kevin Neal recently presented at the Iowa Council for the Social Studies (ICSS) state conference. Their presentation was titled Back Channel, Eash Tech and Devouring Documents.  It focused on using stimulus based materials and accessing interactive web sites to increase student engagement. VHS social studies teacher Kelsey Hudson presented as part of a Primarily Teaching grant from the Library of Congress.  Following a summer institute on using primary documents cosponsored by the Iowa Historical Society, Kelsey’s group prepared model lesson plans that are document intensive.  Kelsey’s session was titled Library of Congress of Workshop.

School: , , , , , , ,

Boundary Committee Begins Map Development

School: , , , , , , ,

Boundary Committee Meets October 7

School: , , , , , , , , , ,