Life in the WDMCS 4/21/14

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.

Fairmeadows Elementary

Fairmeadows sixth graders have been learning about various economic concepts throughout the JA BizTown unit.  Students have been running practice businesses, in order to prepare themselves for their field trip.  The sixth graders learned concepts such as supply and demand, goods and services, and other various elements of business when they managed a simulated city. JA BizTown, part of the social studies curriculum, is part of the Junior Achievement program.

Hillside Elementary

Hillside’s Student Council has had a busy year.  The group’s motto is “We are here to serve you, our community and our world.” The theme this year was UNITY, with two arts based activities to show off unity at Hillside.  In the fall, there was a birthday party for Hillside to celebrate 10 years as a school.  Next, Student Council raised money for the Red Cross and the people of the Philippines. They held a can drive for the Food Pantry and a book drive for Festival of Trees. During the winter, students enjoyed decorating doors with various technology and movie themes.  To also help everyone through the winter, they had a Go for the Gold Olympics Reading.  Attendance Bucks contest continued this year to celebrate days when classrooms have everyone in class. When the class has 25 days, they get $25 to spend as they like. This spring, Student Council is planning the Whole School Bingo around the Unity Theme. Prizes include ways for classrooms to clean up the playground and the school’s neighborhood.  With Buddy Classrooms, students are celebrating Earth Day around the theme The Lorax. And so another year of Student Council comes to an end.  We look back and celebrate that we have been good stewards of our motto.

Second grade students at Hillside Elementary have started their final Artful Learning Unit on Adaptation.  Over the next few weeks, students will determine how the environment influences the way of life.  Students will be able to develop a deeper meaning of this concept by learning about how different plants and animals adapt to survive in their habitat, how Native Americans adapted their lives to survive in different climates, as well as how architects adapt their structures to meet the functional needs of a building.   Students will also learn about different adaptations of the classical story, Cinderella. To help students attain an understanding of the concept of adaptation, students partook in a Purposeful Walk, an Arts Based Skill.  Students were asked to adapt their movements to changing situations such as wading through sinking mug, walking through a thick forest, trudging over snakes, and strolling on a hot sidewalk.  Afterwards, students reflected on how their bodies adapted to what their minds were “pretending”.  The students were then able to make connections with how adaptation affects their own lives.  Students were very excited to apply their new learning in other adaptation investigations.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Fourth grade students at Jordan Creek Elementary participated in a Russia Day Celebration as part of their study of Russia. Students completed activities centered around Russian history, economics, culture, the arts, geography, animals and literature. As part of their study of literature students performed a series of plays based on the Russian fairy tale character, Baba Yaga.

Phenix Elementary

This year the West Des Moines Community Schools will be holding its 31st annual Math Quiz Bowl.  The competition gathers third through sixth graders from the elementary schools across the district and challenges them through a math test based on their grade level.  Only the top performing students from each grade are selected.  Phenix is proud to announce that Aisha Abdirahman, Jorie Mikels and Paige Bernard will be representing our school.  The students are very excited to show off what they have learned so far in third grade and to compete with children from other schools.  Each student participating will earn a ribbon and certificate of achievement.  Good luck to all participating!

Westridge Elementary

Should nine-year-olds be able to vote?  Should third graders have cell phones?  Should third graders read “Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog?”   Third graders might just convince you that the answer is YES!  Currently, Westridge third graders are studying persuasive essays, learning that writers give reasons and details to support their opinions.  They have also learned that writers organize their writing in paragraphs and they use signal words. Students will publish their essays using Microsoft Office Word.  Pieces will be collected in a class book and shared.  We look forward to hearing other people’s opinions.

Indian Hills Junior High

Indian Hills students in the English Language Learners program received bikes and helmets from the West Des Moines Rotary Club.  The initiative was organized in a large part by Abdiel Quiroga, the new school liaison. Paula Bilo-Dickman, Mary Guzman and Natalie French helped find students, send home permission slips and communicate with the Rotary Club.  The Valley West Drive Target donated a gift card to purchase bike locks and Principal Shane Christensen donated money from the Indian Hills fundraising account to purchase the remaining locks.  Janna Day from Blank Children’s Hospital taught the students bike safety, including the importance of wearing a helmet, the proper way to fit a helmet and bike hand signals.

Valley Southwoods

Valley Southwoods freshmen TJ Foley, Arjun Ganga and Brian Gu along with social studies teacher Luanne Baker, were selected to attend he World Food Prize Foundation annual Iowa Youth Institute held on the campus of Iowa State University.  In order to participate, a student must research, write and submit a paper investigating a specific issue and population challenged by food insecurity of some kind.  More than 230 students from across the state of Iowa gathered for the centennial year of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birth, the founder of the World Food Prize Foundation.  Students were required to share their insights during roundtable discussion groups led by experts from both the business and academic arenas.  After lunch with these experts and both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, students then spent time in immersion sessions of their choice where they worked through specific issues with teachers from Iowa State University.  The purpose of the Youth Institute is to inspire and help develop the next generation of leaders who will strive to make our world a better place for all of its citizens. For more information, consult the Foundation’s website at:

Valley High School

The Valley Mock Trial team finished in the top five in the state for the second consecutive year at the Iowa High School Mock Trial State Tournament. Mock Trial coach Scott Brennan noted that “this is a remarkable accomplishment for a bunch of students who participate in many activities in addition to Mock Trial.” Team members are Thomas Leafstedt, Brooke Beatty, Madison Tuttle, Alexandra Brennan, Rae Gernant, Catherine Leafstedt, Kyra Cooper, Mason. Congrats!

Six Valley High School students were recently selected to exhibit their photography at the CIML State Art Show in Marshalltown. The students’ work was entered in the Digital Photography – Unaltered and Digital Photography – Altered categories. Koral Glenn, Hira Mustafa and Carter White each received honorable mention honors. The students were sponsored by Tory DeVries, who teaches both photography and multimedia at Valley.