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School News

Impact of Art XXV

Congratulations to our Westridge Artists who will have artwork on display in our annual district art show at the Des Moines Art Center!!!

Parker Johnson 6C

Paige Hoffman 6B

Alex Bray 6A

Olivia Hope 6A

Anna Hansen 4B

MaryEllen Lerg 4A

Aiden Goldhammer 3B



Please join us for


Exhibit and Reception

Thursday, January 22, 2015

6:30 – 8:00 PM

Des Moines Art Center

4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines


Learning Abounds in Sixth-Grade Classes

Sixth-grade news, by Cate Dolphin: In social studies, taught by Judy Geiken, we are starting our government unit. We learned about government in fifth grade, as well. We are now learning about the different types of government, such as non-democratic and democratic. Non-democratic governments include dictatorships and monarchies, and democratic governments include republics and direct democracies. In language arts, taught by Jory Smith, we are working on our biographies, something we also did in fifth grade. Students are researching scientists, authors, sports stars, YouTubers, and more. Sixth-graders are using the presentation setting on Google Drive to present to their language arts period classmates. In science, taught by Emily Hanson, we are starting the optics unit. The unit includes learning about eyes, light, and color. We will dissect a cow’s eye and make mirror mazes. We have also experimented with color filters. In math, taught by Aaron Witt, we are in the middle of unit 4. Sixth-graders have also been working to complete the sixth-grade mission on Khan Academy. We use Khan Academy almost daily in math.


Student Finishes Children’s Choice Award Books

Crestview fifth-grader Haya Alsaadi finished this year’s collection of Iowa Children’s Choice Award books.

Crestview fifth-grader Haya Alsaadi finished this year’s collection of Iowa Children’s Choice Award books.

Congratulations to Crestview fifth-grader Haya Alsaadi for using her winter break to finish this year’s collection of Iowa Children’s Choice Award books. Haya chose “Athlete vs. Mathlete” by W.C. Mack as her favorite. Haya is now reading “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, the true story of a gorilla who was kept in a shopping mall for 25 years.


The Great Kindness Challenge

The Great Kindness Challenge: January 26-30, 2015


The Great Kindness challenge is one week dedicated to creating a culture of kindness on campuses nationwide.

Our school is proudly participating in this proactive, positive bullying prevention initiative.

All students will receive a Great Kindness Challenge checklist with 50 kind deeds. Please encourage your child to complete the checklist and show the world that KINDNESS MATTERS!

To help us celebrate this week we will have Spirit Days:

Monday: Kick into Gear: Wear different color/crazy socks or shoes

Tuesday: Hippie Day: Peace, love and kindness (tie-dye, peace signs, or hearts clothing)

Wednesday: Crazy for Kindness: Crazy clothing / hair

Thursday: Ride the Wave to Kindness: Beach wear

Friday: Team Kindness: Wear your favorite team gear!


Pattie Klein

Westridge Elementary School Counselor



Third Grade Learns About Australia

Too bad a trip to Australia is not in the budget. However, third-graders were treated to the next best thing — a presentation from a recent traveler to Australia. Melanie Perry, a naturalist from the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge, served as our “tour guide” by sharing her first-hand experiences from a trip to Adelaide, Australia. Students learned similarities and differences between the United States and Australia. The presentation was filled with many exciting things to view: a PowerPoint, videos, and artifacts. Some students were daring enough to try a taste of Vegemite.


Student Art on Display at LRC

Jordan Creek art teacher Julie Martinez is very proud of the students’ artwork. The following children will have their artwork on display through Feb. 23 at the Learning Resource Center. Art history projects: Ava Feeney, 6D; Grace Heitman, 6A; Nathan Buzzell, 6C; Aditi Tripathy, 6A; Kaelyn Lawrence, 6B; Makayla Houston, 6C; Julianne VanArnum, 6C; Andy Kuster, 6A; Dylan McBroom, 6A. Pumpkins: Brody Johnson, 2C. Grant Wood-inspired paintings: Mackenzie Erickson, 3C; Paige Christenson, 3D; Jacob Forney, 3D; Gavin Knudsen, 3B; Grady Walston, 3B; Lucas Kueter, 3D. Mixed-color clown paintings: Lyric DeWeerd, 1A; Kaylee Plummer, 1C; Tealey Schwingendorf, 1C; Trent Grevengoed, 1C; Johnny Reynolds, 1C; Nick Eklov, 1D; David Hawbaker III, 1D; Lizzy Kummet, 1D; Benjamin Qi, 1D; Adrian Phelps, 1D; Anakarina Rogers, 1B; Leia Woo, 1B; Andy Rickert, 1B; Elijah Thatcher, 1B; Dustin Herzberg, 1A; Landen Chen, 1B. Ofrenda displays: Joshua Nichols, Ayden Hall, Jackie Robinson, and Josh Mueldener; and Regan Kuennen, Ellie Burke, Anna Jacob and Asmi Patel; all 6D. Masks: Sophia Hansen, 6C; Will Fisher, 6A; Jacie Stewart, 6C; Abby Feldmann, 6A.


Kindergartners Learn About Numbers

Hillside kindergartners expand their understanding of numbers with calendars, charts, clocks and more.

Hillside kindergartners expand their understanding of numbers with calendars, charts, clocks and more.

The kindergartners at Hillside Elementary were excited to get back to school and our daily routine. The start of a new year and many changes on the calendar present a great time to further our students’ understanding of numbers into the double digits using the calendar and the hundreds chart. We will also extend our exploration of numbers to the clock, reinforcing numbers to 12, counting by fives, and beginning concepts of telling time. January and February are always months of great growth in academic understanding for kindergartners. With routines established and behaviors developed, young children are open to new challenges and eagerly make connections across the curriculum. We are all excited to move into the next phase of our school year and anticipate a very productive 2015.


Third Grade Enjoys Reader’s Theatre

Students in Ann McTaggart’s third-grade class at Clive build reading fluency through Reader’s Theatre activities.

Students in Ann McTaggart’s third-grade class at Clive build reading fluency through Reader’s Theatre activities.

Students in Ann McTaggart’s third-grade class are building reading fluency through Reader’s Theatre. The Reader’s Theatre week begins with a fluency skill focus. During the daily reading block, a mini-lesson is presented on a particular fluency skill. Students are currently working on the fluency skill of inflection and intonation. Students apply that fluency skill to the whole-group reading passage by echo reading, choral reading, and partner reading. Next, students take the current skill and apply it to their Reader’s Theatre script. Students have the opportunity to read and refine their character parts throughout the week. Students perform for their peers on the fifth day.


Help Stop the Spread of the Flu

Washing Hands

Reports of the flu are on the rise statewide as West Des Moines Community School District students return to class this week. Parents and caregivers are being reminded of the warning signs of influenza in children and precautions that will help keep the virus from spreading at school and also at home.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports that the number of cases in Iowa has increased since students left for winter break. The flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May.

Our school nurses are staying updated about this season’s illness and are monitoring reports. They are available to help your child if he or she becomes ill at school. Nurses will notify you if your child needs to be released from school.

Teachers and staff members also help prevent the spread of illness by teaching and reminding students about good hand-washing and cough-hygiene practices. You can help us by reinforcing these practices at home. These include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

In addition, our custodial staff disinfects phones, doorknobs and light switches daily.

Knowing the signs of the flu – or influenza – is important. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

If your child does become ill, the Iowa Department of Public Health recommends that you should consult your child’s doctor and children should stay home from school. Children should be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the help of fever-reducing medicines before returning to school.

Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications. However, some cases may become severe. Emergency warning signs that children need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Working together, we can help keep students healthy and ready to learn. Below is additional information and resources about the flu that may be helpful.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school nurse or building principals.

Parent Resources:

Key Facts About Seasonal Flu (CDC)
Influenza – Frequently Asked Questions (IDPH)
The Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick (CDC)
Flu Guide for Parents (CDC)


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