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Junior Highs Hold First Science Bowl

ScienceBowl 10

Students from Stilwell compete at the first junior high Science Bowl.

Nearly 30 eighth graders from Indian Hills and Stilwell junior highs competed in the first Indian Hills/Stilwell Science Bowl on February 25, 2017.

The winning teams were:

  • First Place – Team Apple Bottom Genes, with team members Dorothy Junginger, Joseph Maxwell, and Lucy Weis.
  • Second Place – Team Contagious Intelligence, with team members Joshua Nichols, Chain Moore, Emerson Porter, and David Mager.
  • Third Place – Team The Atoms Family, with team members Clara Mintzer, Sam Burns, Abby Feldman.

Indian Hills/Stilwell Science Bowl Competition Photos

There were four teams from each school competing in the double-elimination competition.

Teams of students studied multiple science disciplines, including chemistry, physics, earth science, genetics, astronomy, human biology, botany, zoology, and taxonomy. Teams were coached by Indian Hills science teacher Shelly Urban and Stilwell science teachers Bryan Bacehowski and Ruth Henderson.

Many teachers and administrators volunteered their time as judges, timers, scorekeepers, and general supervision.

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Valley Dance Marathon 2017

“Bad Dancing Saves Lives” at this year’s Valley Dance Marathon, 6-10 p.m., Friday, March 24.

This event is for Valley, Walnut Creek Campus, and Valley Southwoods students who want to make a difference in the lives of children. It is not just a dance or a marathon, but a celebration of life. 

Participants must register by March 8 to get a T-shirt, with a $10 registration fee. They will fundraise $20 or more to be donated to Children’s Miracle Network for the benefit of children in Iowa.  Additional information can be found in the dancer registration packet or by contacting

Dancer Registration Packet

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Indian Hills Junior High Presents “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

Indian Hills Junior High proudly presents our student performance of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

Performances are at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 3 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, March 4. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults. All performances will be held in the Indian Hills auditorium.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is based on the classic children’s book of the same name from C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Indian Hills’ production features Olivia Lamphere as Aslan, Ava Neppl as the White Witch, and Charlotte Koufer, Nate Gass, Zoe Givant, and Max Johnson as Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie, the four siblings who discover Narnia.

Full Cast and Crew

Print the Poster



Valley Girls’ Basketball Team Wins First State Tournament Championship

UPDATE: Congratulations to Head Coach Josef Sigrist and the Valley High School girls’ basketball team, which won the school’s first girls’ basketball state tournament title ever on Saturday, March 4. The team defeated Cedar Falls 71-59 to become the 2017 Iowa Class 5A Champions. The team finished 24-2 on the season, breaking 16 all-time team and individual records.

The team was led by captains Hannah Fuller and Jackie Feldt and three other seniors. Hannah Fuller was named state tournament team captain. Sophomore Zoe Young was also named to the All-Tournament team. Both students received first team all-state honors, and Jackie Feldt received third team all-state honors.  Jamie Feldt, Alex Honnold, and Shea Fuller also had tremendous tournaments.

“I could not be more ecstatic for a group of young ladies,” Sigrist said. “They executed all season long and continued to improve while peaking on the ultimate stage. These girls and this community deserved it’s first girls’ basketball championship!”


UPDATE: The Valley High School girls’ basketball team advanced to the semi-final round at the state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. The team will play again at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, March 3 against Iowa City West.

The Valley High School athletics & activities office will be selling tickets on Thursday, March 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday, March 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.  All tickets are $10.


From Feb. 23: Congratulations to the Valley girls’ basketball team on their win Tuesday night over Ames! This win sends the team to the state tournament next week at Wells Fargo Arena. The team will first face Dowling Catholic High School at 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 1.

The Valley High School athletics & activities office will be selling tickets on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday, March 1 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  All tickets are $10.


See the full bracket.


Sixteen Valley Students Named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

All 16 of Valley High Schools National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists have now been named National Merit Finalists. Valley High School seniors Elizabeth Ash, Zachary Bailey, Jacob Bedia, Cayden Codel, Emily Ellingson, Arjun Ganga, Trent Gilbert, Brian Gu, John Mahoney, Abby McCullough, Meta Miller, Gabriel Mintzer, Guowei Qi, Jared Shapert, Rachel Snodgrass, and Madison VanSickel have all advanced in the competition for National Merit scholarships.

Students who become National Merit scholars earn a $2,500 scholarship. Of the 1.5 million entrants, about 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program. Academic records, school curriculum, test scores, an administrative recommendation, information about activities and leadership and an essay are used in the judging process.

Students will be notified by the end of June if they have been selected as National Merit Scholars.


Stilwell Nominated for National Award

Stilwell Junior High is one of just five Iowa schools and the only junior high in Iowa to be nominated for recognition in the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools Program in 2017. Nominations are made primarily on the basis of student achievement as measured by the Iowa Assessments. For schools nominated for exemplary achievement, students at each tested grade must be in the top 15 percent of schools in reading and mathematics. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools in September 2017. Congratulations to Stilwell Junior High!


Kapur “Turbanates” the Single Story

Valley High School junior JJ Kapur was two years old when the September 11 attacks took place. His family was watching the news when he saw a picture of his father on the screen and pointed it out to his family.

It was actually a picture of Osama bin Laden.

Kapur does not remember this himself, but it was a turning point for his father, who realized how he and his family might be perceived. “My father was afraid that Americans would see his beard and turban and think ‘terrorist,’” Kapur said.

The story became the cornerstone of his speech, “Let’s Dance,” at the Harvard National Forensics Tournament in February. Following victories at the Barkley Forum for High Schools and the Minneapple Speech Tournament, the Sikh student again earned first place in the original oratory category, defeating more than 240 orators from around the nation. The speech focuses on the danger of the “single story,” a concept Kapur discovered through Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk.

“We think about things from this single story frame point,” Kapur explained. “We don’t think about them in a complex way. We oversimplify them.” In his speech, he adds, “It’s so important that we recognize each other not as cartoon caricatures but as complex and loving human beings. If we want to build relationships with each other, we must deconstruct the danger of the single story.”

Kapur’s interest in single stories is fueled by an experience reminiscent of his father’s. This time, Kapur was the one with a beard and turban—two of the Five Virtues of the Sikh faith. A group of strangers mocked him at a restaurant, telling him to “Go home, Osama.”

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m an American,’” Kapur said. “‘I’ve lived here my whole life. This is my home.’”

Kapur gives his speech to the WDMCS Board of Education.

Kapur gives his speech to the WDMCS Board of Education.

The realization inspired Kapur to start speaking out about his experiences as a Sikh American youth. A Lincoln-Douglas debater in grades 7-9, he is now the only original orator on Valley High School’s speech and debate team and helps coach ninth-grade team members.

“As a Sikh minority, I want to use speech and debate to amplify the voice of Sikhs in my community,” Kapur said. “I want to use the platform I have for advocacy.”

His desire to share his community’s story led him to found the Iowa Sikh Turbanators, a youth-centered Sikh community service group. To “turbanate” the stigmas surrounding Sikhism, the group performs acts of service. At their first event, they worked with other community groups to pack 44,000 meals at Meals from the Heartland. Kapur has also participated in an interfaith panel on hate crimes, contributed a digital story to Drake University religion professor Dr. Timothy Knepper’s comparison project, and continues to share his story through speech and debate.

Kapur performs a Bollywood dance to begin his speech.

Kapur performs a Bollywood dance to begin his speech.

“I love the way words can be used,” he said. “You build a relationship with the audience. Each word you use can change their perspective.”

Kapur gave his speech at the Feb. 13 WDMCS Board of Education meeting. He started with a Bollywood dance—something district debate coach Dave McGinnis encouraged him to consider as a way to honor his heritage and grab the audience’s attention. When he talked about mistaking Osama bin Laden for his father, there was complete silence.

It may be an uncomfortable moment for listeners, but Kapur is challenging people to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” He sees that awkwardness as a place to start building relationships and broadening people’s perspectives.

“It’s not just about winning trophies and getting first place. When you’re speaking, you’re impacting (the audience). You’re hoping to change people’s minds to make our world a better place.”


Valley Cultural Awareness Week

Valley High School will be celebrating diversity with Cultural Awareness Week, Feb. 20-23. The week of cultural celebration, recognition, and awareness will include some special events and music, art, and food throughout the week.

  • Valley students will attend a Cultural Awareness Week assembly in the Staplin Center on Monday, Feb. 20. The assemblies will introduce the theme of the week, “Shift the Lens,” which encourages everyone to look beyond their own experiences and perspective.
  • A canned food drive supporting the community will run throughout the week.
  • The media center will feature a large display of books by diverse authors all week.
  • Valley High School worked with WDMCS Nutrition Services to offer a variety of cultural food options for lunch during the week.
  • World Cultures Club’s International Night will take place from 5:30-8:30 on Thursday and is open to the public. It will feature culinary tastings and talent and fashions shows that highlight different cultures represented at Valley.

The Valley High School administration worked with student groups including World Cultures Club, Club Alpha, SHOUT (Students Helping Out), and ICU (Inclusive Cultural University) to create Cultural Awareness Week. Please join us as we celebrate the many cultures represented at Valley High School!


Valley Wrestlers Headed to State Tournament

Congratulations to the Valley wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament: Connor Corbin, Beau Lombardi, Rocky Lombardi, Noah Hughes-Reilly, Spencer Hutchinson, Joe Nicholson, Nick Oldham, Zach Oldham, Joel Shapiro, and Grant Stotts. Individual wrestling will take place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week at Wells Fargo Arena. Valley will wrestle on Wednesday, Feb. 15, starting with Indianola at 11 a.m.

See the full bracket

Ticket Information

If students want to attend the tournament, they can sign up during lunch. An email will then be sent home to parents and guardians, letting them know the student will be excused from school. If this is not what the parent/guardian wants, please call 515-633-4000 and let Valley know you do NOT want your student excused. No response is needed if you support your student attending the game.


Valley Science Bowl Team Earns Third Consecutive Regional Championship

The Valley High School science bowl team members receive their trophies after their third consecutive regional championship.

The Valley High School science bowl team members receive their trophies after their third consecutive regional championship. (Front row, from left: Cayden Codel, Arjun Ganga, Guowei Qi; Back row, from left: Jacob Bedia, Gabriel Mintzer, Coach Nathan Speichinger, Ames Laboratory Director Adam Schwartz.)

The Valley High School science bowl team earned a third consecutive regional championship at the Ames Laboratory/Iowa State University Regional High School Science Bowl on Jan. 28.  The team will now advance to represent the region at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl®, from April 27–May 2, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

The Valley science bowl team members are captain and senior student Gabriel Mintzer and seniors Jacob Bedia, Cayden Codel, Arjun Ganga, and Guowei Qi. Bedia, Ganga, and Qi were also on the 2016 team, and Mintzer competed on all three winning teams. Coached by Valley physics teacher Nathan Speichinger, the team won all nine of its matches. A total of 40 teams answered questions about biology, chemistry, earth and space science, energy, math, and physics in the quiz-bowl format competition. The Valley High school team defeated Des Moines’ Central Campus 84-4 in the championship match.