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Thomas-McGinnis Becomes National Debate Champion

Conal Thomas-McGinnis with his first place trophy for middle school Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Conal Thomas-McGinnis.

Incoming Valley Southwoods Freshman High School student Conal Thomas-McGinnis won the junior high Lincoln-Douglas debate tournament at the 2015 National Speech and Debate Tournament. The incoming ninth-grader is the second national champion from the WDMCS district in three years; incoming junior Trent Gilbert was the national champion in 2013.

At the same tournament this year, recent Valley High School graduates Rishi Shah and Brody Diehn made it to round 11 in policy debate, making them one of the top 24 high school policy debate teams in the country.

Recent Valley grad Nolan Dahm was the 10th speaker in the policy division, and Gilbert made it to round eight in high school Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Incoming seventh-graders Bevan Fogdall and Isabella Nadel were octofinalists in policy debate, and incoming eighth-grader Animesh Joshi was an octofinalist for Lincoln-Douglas debate. Incoming freshman Joseph Whisler made it to double-octofinals (top 32) for Lincoln-Douglas debate.

The Valley debate team was founded in 1968. High school and junior high school students can participate in debate. The team attends 35–40 competitions per year, traveling to different locations including Yale and Stanford universities. This year’s National Speech and Debate Tournament was held in Dallas by the National Speech and Debate Association.

(Photo credits: David McGinnis)

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World Premiere of “Providence” Honors Valley Performing Arts Center

PAC2015-sign2The Valley High School vocal department and orchestra are combining to perform the world premiere of “Providence” by Ola Gjeilo at 7 p.m. on June 9 in the Valley Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines. The piece was commissioned by the Valley High School vocal and orchestral music departments and Manhattan Concert Productions to honor the opening of the Valley Performing Arts Center.

“Providence” is a 15-minute choral-orchestral piece by Gjeilo, a renowned contemporary composer from Norway, with text from the 1633 poem of the same name by George Herbert, an English poet and priest. The chorus and orchestra will also be performing “Providence” at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 15 as part of the Masterworks Festival.

The free performance will be at 7 p.m. on June 9 in the Valley Performing Arts Center. Other choral selections include “The Ground” by Gjeilo, “Hallelujah” (from “Christ on the Mount of Olives”) by Ludwig van Beethoven and “A Bronze Triptych” by Dan Forrest. The orchestra will perform Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 4 by Arcangelo Corelli, “Dance” (from “Brooke Green Suite”) by Gustav Holst and “Pavane” by Maurice Ravel.

“Valley Commission Premiere Concert” Facebook Event


Valley Graduate to Attend National High School Musical Theater Awards

Martens singing "Over the Rainbow." 99asdf

Martens singing “Over the Rainbow.” (Photo credit: Deb Lind)

Jessica Martens, a 2015 Valley High School graduate, will be representing Iowa at the National High School Musical Theater Awards from June 24-30 in New York. Martens won the trip as part of the Triple Threat Award at the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards. The award is the program’s top honor and recognizes students for their acting, singing and dancing abilities.

Martens will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, lessons and an awards ceremony while attending the National High School Musical Theater Awards on Broadway. She will spend the next three weeks preparing solos, some from her role as“Dorothy” in Valley’s spring musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” to perform for other attendees and show business professionals.

Martens with her parents, Mike and Anne, and her brother, Kyle. (Source: Anne Martens)

Martens with her parents, Mike and Anne, and her brother, Kyle. (Source: Anne Martens)

The Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards are sponsored by Des Moines Performing Arts. Martens also won an Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role award for her performance as “Dorothy” at the June 1 awards showcase. She was featured as a soloist and as part of “The Jitterbug” dance excerpt. “The Wizard of Oz” won 14 total awards and was one of six productions statewide to earn the Outstanding Musical Production award.