Phenix second graders holding a parachute

Life in the WDMCS 11/18/13

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.

Crossroads Park Elementary
Crossroads Park Elementary wrapped up a busy week of Iowa Assessment Testing with a rockin’ assembly.  The Crossroads Park Professional Learning Community, comprised of teaching staff, brought in a performance group called Sheltered Reality to perform for staff and students.  Sheltered Reality is a drumming group that delivers an anti-bullying message.  Former Crossroads Park student Drew Minard, the founder of the school’s Anti-Bullying Club, generously provided financially to make the assembly a reality.  Thank you to our parents who made an extra effort during testing week to make sure their students arrived on time and prepared to take the Iowa Assessments.

Fairmeadows Elementary
Fairmeadows second graders are exploring texture in art class.  First, students drew creatures covered in shapes, lines, patterns and designs, as examples of visual texture.  These animals were based on Oaxacan carvings from Mexico.  Students then gathered examples of textures by creating rubbings with crayons – shoe soles were a big hit.  Students then created their own textures in clay, using a variety of clay tools and found objects.  The next step is to put all of this knowledge together and create a sculpture from clay using texture as the main design motif.

Fairmeadows honored veterans on Veteran’s Day with a program. It began with the Fairmeadows Cub Scouts presenting the flag and leading the student body, staff and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Fifth grader Bailey Walke welcomed all students and guests to the program.  Fifth graders Aubrie Dewes, Sam Fess and Levi Janssen read their essays describing “Why we celebrate Veteran’s Day.” In addition, the fifth grade chorus, under the direction of Deb Augspurger, performed a patriotic song “Step up, Honor our Veterans.” Two special guest veterans, Dan Gannon and Ron Langel, spoke to the Fairmeadows students about the history of Veteran’s Day and what life was like during war time.  The program ended with a slide show paying tribute to Fairmeadows’ family members who are veterans. Rhonda Koerselman, the fifth grade social studies teacher, organized the program and created the slide show.

Hillside Elementary
Fourth grade classes at Hillside Elementary visited the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City.  They enjoyed learning more about bison and other prairie animals, prairie grasses and flowers, and how the prairie has changed over the years.

The Code 411 program at Hillside is set up to help students make good decisions.  The curriculum was developed by the WDMCS and the Clive and West Des Moines Police Departments.  Officer Weatherall has spent the last spent nine weeks teaching about the topics of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, bullying, crimes and kids and internet safety.  After each lesson, students had time to ask questions and journal about the topics.  They have also had class time to reflect and journal about these topics and how it relates to them.

The Hillside sixth graders are learning about economy, government and business concepts in social studies.  These lessons incorporate ideas about economics, free enterprise, taxes, business management, work-readiness skills, resume’s, job applications, balancing a check book, citizenship and government. The students will be attending JA Biztown in December.  This is a program sponsored by Junior Achievement. The students attend the simulation town and have a job that gives them responsibilities throughout the day.  The JA Biztown curriculum is incorporated into the WDMCS social studies curriculum. This is a cross-curricular study that incorporates reading, writing, and math lessons throughout the unit. At JA Biztown each student has a different job in one of the following businesses: city hall, bank, radio, magazine, financial center, utility/realty office, sports shop, restaurant, technology center, insurance agency and distribution center.

Jordan Creek Elementary
Two of wonderful programs are off and running with success at Jordan Creek.  Circle of Friends is in its fifth year with close to 100 students involved. The kickoff event was at Howell’s Pumpkin Patch and the next event will be at Pump it Up. The kids have also had a pizza lunch and look forward to the November lunch bunch and December events. Sibling group is also off to a great start, with close to 20 kids who meet to talk about what it is like to have a brother or sister with a special need. The group meetings monthly and they like having a low key format to just talk and connect with other kids that experience similar home situations.

Members of the Jordan Creek Kids Care Club recently hosted an All School Character Counts Assembly focusing on citizenship and Veterans Day. Kids Care Club members shared a special tribute to thank our Veterans who were invited as guests of honor. Special guest speakers Becky Coady,  Lisa Langel and Mitch Chapman spoke about Paws and Effect, a non-profit organization that trains service dogs for wounded veterans and children with autism. They came with their service dogs Tango, Justice and Theo. Paws and Effect was the recipient of the Iowa Character Counts Award for 2013. Members of the Kids Care Club hosted a donation drive at Jordan Creek for Paws and Effect. Students collected and shared numerous dog items including chew toys, ropes, collars, leashes, dog treats and cash donations to be used with training their service dogs.

Phenix Elementary
Second grade students in Jessica George’s class are learning about form in music class.  They danced a reel to “Turkey in the Straw” after determining the form of the song.   A parachute provided extra fun while analyzing the form of the “Star Wars” main theme.

Westridge Elementary
Students been working very hard in Physical Education class. Grades 1‐6 have been working on fitness testing over the last month. The students have been tested on sit and reach, pull-ups, shuttle run, bent arm hang, sit-ups and mile run. Kindergarten students have been working on motor skills, movement patterns and respecting their selves and others in physical activities. Our fifth and sixth grade students started volleyball in the month of November. The sixth grade students will have an all-district volleyball tournament at Valley High School on Tuesday, November 26.

Movement is a key component of everyday life and should be a part of everyday learning. There has been a lot of research documenting the benefits of physical education including the following.

  • Researchers James Pollatschek and Frank Hager stated, “Children engaged in daily Physical Education show superior motor fitness, academic performance, and attitude towards school as compared to their counterparts who did not participate in daily Physical Education”.
  • In a Canadian study done by Dr. Carla Hannaford, 500 students who spent an extra hour each day in Physical Education class far out performed at exam time, than those who did not exercise.
  • In a study done by William Greenoug, mice that exercised had a greater number of connections among neurons than those mice who did not exercise.

Valley High School
The VHS sewing classes will help make Christmas a little brighter for more than 100 girls in South Sudan. For the second year, Kelli King and Courtney Mottet focused the class’ service project to benefit Dress a Girl Around the World, a charity that provides sun dresses to little girls across the globe. With the help WDMCS School Board member Milton Cole, they have partnered with St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church to have the dresses shipped to South Sudan. The church plans to pair a Beanie Baby with each dress, shipping them so they arrive just before Christmas. Last year, the class donated 45 dresses in one size. They more than doubled that number this year while expanding the patter to make medium and large size dresses for older girls. For many of the recipients, this will be the only dress they have ever owned.