Life in the WDMCS 11/12/13

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
Fifth graders at Clive Elementary just finished a woodlands unit in science.  In this unit, students learned about the parts of the seed – seed coat, stored food and embryo.  The class got to make their own model of a seed using a raw egg as the embryo, dropping the seed model to see if the seed coat protected the embryo well enough. Students also planted seeds inside a clear CD case and watched the seed grow inside the dirt and into a real plant.  The unit also focused on parts of a flower, reading tree rings, food chains, and layers of a forest.

Every year the community gathers to celebrate the Day of the Dead at the Des Moines Art Center. This year, a representation of third, fourth and fifth grade students from Clive Elementary contributed to this community celebration. Art from several third and fifth graders provided a colorful backdrop of calaveras and monarchs. A group of fourth grade students performed a Day of the Dead song in Spanish. Singers included Madison Snyder, Libby White, Geni Williams, Suné Van Bosch, Julia Young, Elayna Klinkefus, Megan Wainwright, and Payten Neswold. It was a fun and memorable day for all!

Crestview Elementary
One way Crestview Elementary celebrated Hispanic Heritage month was to have different displays in the glass case next to the library.  The first week featured clothing worn in Spanish speaking countries.  The second week was music instruments from Spanish speaking countries.  The third week was art and Spanish speaking artists.  The last week was Hispanics and sports.

Crestview fourth graders culminated their study of the prairie with a trip to the Red Feather Prairie, which is a tall grass prairie located at Jester Park.  This field trip was sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and specially designed for 4th grade students.  While on this field trip students were able to construct a Native American teepee that would have been found on the prairie, learn about plants and animals found on the prairie, experience Native American and prairie games, and take a nature walk. What a fun way to learn about the prairie firsthand.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Kindergarten students at Fairmeadows Elementary are busy learning how to read and apply skills that will strengthen their comprehension.  They are currently learning the importance of recalling the correct sequence of a story.  The teachers use language of what came first, next and last.  New readers often work so hard at learning new words they forget the ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend.  Stories are often retold through pictures and puppet play to encourage this comprehension skill.

RJ Hernandez recently visited Deb Augspurger’s fourth grade general music classes at Fairmeadows.  He spoke with the students about music of Mexico and demonstrated many instruments including the guitarron, vihuela, guiro and claves.  The students were excited to listen to and perform together with Mr. Hernandez.

Hillside Elementary
Sixth graders at Hillside are studying how independence and interdependence create a successful community by preparing for an exciting experience at J.A. Biztown.  The students learn to write a resume, apply for a job and interview for the position.  A mayor and judge are elected to run the town.  The businesses and everyday workings of the town are the run by the students.  The students create a name for their businesses, develop a financial budget, and write commercials to prepare for their simulation.    It is an amazing experience!

First graders at Hillside Elementary performed “Bugz: The Musical” for families and other students in early November. The students sang, danced, buzzed, stung, flapped, crawled and flew as they took the audience on a journey to a picnic where all the insects are sure they’ve been invited. Although the poor stink bugs cause a bit of a disruption, the bugs learn to work together so all the insects can dive into the feast with their mandibles. The performance was the culmination of the connections unit in which they use the Artful Learning model to gain a deeper understanding about the world around them. Artful Learning is unique approach designed to engage students through inquiry and provide a deeper understanding than can be achieved with standard educational approaches.  It links the arts and the artistic process to the daily classroom experience. Hillside Elementary is in it’s10th year of being selected as a legacy school for Artful Learning by the Leonard Bernstein Foundation.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Sixth graders from Jordan Creek Elementary traveled to Iowa State University to attend the Taking the Road Less Traveled career exploration conference.  This conference is organized by The Program for Women in Science & Engineering and is open to female students grades 6-12.  The presentations increase student awareness and understanding of career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The sixth grade boys spent the day participating in a variety of science related workshops as well.  On campus, they learned about DNA, concrete, and meat science.  Team PrISUm also spoke with the boys about their most recent solar car, Hyperion.  The boys learned about athletic training and turf management on their tour at Jack Trice Stadium.

Lynn Hunt’s first grade students at Jordan Creek compiled their first published written work – a joke book.  The steps in publishing a book were the real focus of this project. Each student wrote a draft; edited each joke focusing on capitalization, spelling, finger-spaces and punctuation; and finally rewrote (published) the joke into his/her own book. Next they will be working on a new social studies unit, Red, White and Blue for Me and You. In this unit they will focus on the diversity of our country in the land and the people and learn about some of the symbols that represent this great land. They will also learn about freedom of choice…like parents voting in November.

Phenix Elementary
Phenix students were excited to bring their costumes to school last week for the annual Fall Parade and parties.  Students and staff alike dressed up as their favorite characters, with many of the staff dressing as matching Minions from the popular animated movie Despicable Me.  Students enjoyed seeing their teachers play along!  Many parents and siblings watched the parade, with some even participating.  After the parade, students and teachers retired to their classrooms for a healthy treat.  Phenix staff loves to incorporate wellness into everyday life at the school, so everything from the parade down to the snacks in the classroom tried to support a healthy lifestyle example for the students.

Westridge Elementary
Second graders at Westridge Elementary will begin studying Native Americans, exploring four Native American cultures from different parts of the United States. As an introductory activity they had Mike Havlik from the Des Moines YMCA come to Westridge to build a teepee and learn about Native American culture and traditions.

Indian Hills Junior High Congressman Tom Latham recently presented a tribute to Colby Cook that he read on the floor of the United States Congress about Colby and his actions to save another student from choking.  The Congressman visited Colby’s science classto present the award.

Valley Southwoods
The Valley debate team won the sweepstakes championship at the Minneapple debate tournament in Apple Valley, Minn. The Minneapple tournament is one of eight major national tournaments held  each year, drawing students from across the nation. In Novice Lincoln-Douglas debate, freshman Brian Gu was the tournament champion, while freshman Xandra French finished as a quarterfinalist. In JV LD debate, seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis finished in quarterfinals while freshmen TJ Foley, Trent Gilbert and Evan McKinney all placed in the top 16. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate, senior Jason Smith finished as a quarterfinalist, receiving his second bid to the national debate Tournament of Champions, which is held each spring at the University of Kentucky. He is now fully qualified to attend that event.

Valley High School
Valley sophomore Danielle Reyes was chosen to be one of the speakers at the Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit at Hy-Vee Hall.  She was the youngest member of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council and has represented the youth in Polk County for the past two years.

Congratulations to Colin Timmerman who placed third in the local VFW Voice of Democracy speech contest. He entered this year with the theme “Why I’m Optimistic About our Nation’s Future.” Colin presented a fine speech describing how we all can contribute to serving our country.

Valley High School contributes 345 items to the recent Winter Warmth Drive – five pairs of boots, five blankets, 12 pairs of snow pants, 45 scarves, 50 hats, 68 gloves and 160 coats. All items donated will be delivered to Des Moines area non-profit agencies and schools and distributed to the homeless or near homeless and students in need.  Thank you for everyone’s support in making the Winter Warmth Drive a success!