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Students, Staff Recognized for Outstanding Achievements

The Board of Education of the West Des Moines Community School District is pleased to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of district students and staff.



Fairmeadows Elementary fifth grader Elaine Greer won second place for her grade division in the state-wide 2014 MLK Essay Contest. She received a $25 prize and was honored at the State of Iowa Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

Several WDMCS students were among the 470 students from Iowa and throughout the nation who were recently invited to be honored at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony. Additionally, recognized students were given the opportunity to honor a teacher they credited for having a profound influence on their lives. Students honored were: Explore Test – Carsen Codel, David Gaunt, Savannah Hunt, Kyle Juist, Dorothy Junginger, Nora King, Cynthia Quito, Alana Scherer, Darrell Smith, Ryan Staub and Radha Velamuri; ACT – Cayden Codel, Gabriel Mintzer and Samuel Throm; Blank Summer Institute – Elizabeth Ash and Marcus Chew. Teachers the students chose to honor were Ann Ellinger, Westridge; Deb Flagg, Jordan Creek; Nancy Foley, Westridge; Holly Gilmore, Hillside; Betsy Hrdlicka, Western Hills; LuAnn Link, Stilwell; Tami Loge, Valley; Tim Miller, Stilwell; Felicia Twit, Western Hills; and Aaron Witt, Jordan Creek.

All nine of the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from Valley High School were upgraded to National Merit Scholarship Finalists this week. Seniors Chloe Goodman, Grant Gustafson, Catherine Leafstedt, Ashwin Madhan, Alicia Meng, Neeve Sivagurunathan, Jason Smith, Corrine Smolen and Jeffrey Swegle will be notified in June if they have been selected as a National Merit Scholar.

The WDMCS is among five Iowa districts to be named to the College Board’s 4th Annual Honor Roll Districts. The AP Honor Roll recognizes and honors those outstanding school districts that simultaneously increase access to Advanced Placement® course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

Valley High School had 16 students qualify for the DECA Competitive Events Program at the 2014 International Career Development Conference May 3-6 in Atlanta, Ga. Valley, which is in its first year sponsoring a DECA program with coach Sarah Bird, had top finishers at state competition in the following categories: First Place: Grant Gustafson and Chase Koschmeder – Sports and Entertainment Team Decision Making; Haley Morris and Madeleine Smithey – Marketing Communications Team Decision Making; Mason McCoy, Chase Koschmeder and Jack Walsh – Advertising Campaign; Mahek Shahid, Madison Foust and Shri Mailachalam – International Business Plan; Sam Studer, Tiffany Heeren and Dani Duerschmidt – Sports and Entertainment Operations Research; Second Place: Gabe Butler-Klein – Principles of Business Management; Mahek Shahid – Principles of Hospitality and Tourism; Third Place: Baldeep Dhingra – Automotive Services Marketing; Tiffany Heeren – Business Services Marketing; Collin Coffey and Caleb Floss – Hospitality and Tourism Team Decision Making; Honorable Mention: Jack Walsh – Apparel and Accessories Marketing; Mason McCoy – Business Services Marketing; Daly Hardy – Principles of Hospitality and Tourism; Sam Studer – Retail Merchandising Services; Abbey Patterson and Sarah Thompson – Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making.

Valley’s Rae Gernant won a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her poem, “The Crystaline Palace.” Gernant’s entry was selected from 250 writing entries from grades 7-12 from the Iowa Region.

Valley’s Hannah-Kate Fox will be representing Valley High School at the state Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. She will be performing three poems at the competition held at the Historical Building on March 5 at 1 p.m.

The Valley First Tech Challenge team, Beta, finished in second place for the Inspire Award and also earned the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award at the RTC State Championships. The Inspire Award is given to the team that is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field. The Innovate Award celebrates a team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. Beta won five of six qualifying matches and finished competing in the first round of division semi-finals that pitted the top 48 teams from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The 2013 Valley Tiger Tales Yearbook was recognized for excellence and featured in the Herff Jones IDEAS THAT FLY showcase book. There were only two schools from Iowa selected for this honor. The Valley yearbook has been selected for inclusion four years in a row. The Editor in Chief is Katelyn Brower and  Diane Hicks is adviser.

Eleven students were recently inducted in to the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists.The students have all shown initiative and produced superior work in writing, editing or photography for the student newspaper or yearbook and are in the top third of their class academically.  New inductees include Sarah Bell, Camryn Dreyer, Connor Ferguson, Annie Fredericksen, Katie Galles, Allison Kacer, Emily Kacer, Taylor Mankle, Cole Schulte, Cooper Warner and Claudia Athens. Officers Ashley Skokan, Madison Ward and Jenna Baldus presided with adviser Diane Hicks.  Valley High School has had a Quill and Scroll chapter since 1940.

The Valley Mock Trial senior team advanced to the state competition. Congratulations to team members Brooke Beatty, Alexandra Brennan, Kyra Cooper, Rae Gernent, Catherine Leafstedt, Thomas Leafstedt, Mason McCoy and Madison Tuttle.


Grant Gustafson and Catherine Leafstedt of Valley High School were among the top students in the country selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, which drew 1,500 people from more than 65 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues.

The Western Hills Kids Care Club, a volunteer club of over 120 kindergarten through sixth graders, was chosen to be a GenerationOn Joy Ambassador.  This honor is given to 100 organizations and individuals (two from each state) each year by GenerationOn and Hasbro.  The Western Hills Kids Care Club was selected based off of “the amazing things they have been doing to make a mark on the world through volunteer action.”  As Joy Ambassadors, the club was given 100 brand new toys from Hasbro and a $100 gift card to use towards a special holiday service project.

The Rotary Club of West Des Moines honored Walnut Creek Campus students Kirk Phillips and Sarah Beck as Outstanding Students of the Month for November for providing leadership, making a difference and going above and beyond in their school.

Valley’s Tej Akavaram and Isabelle Pierotti-May were recognized as Youth of the Year by the Chinese Association of Iowa. Both of them have been in the VHS Chinese Lion and Dragon team for the past three years and participated in community performances and Mid-West Competition, where the team won second prize. They are currently in Chinese III and Tej has won the study abroad scholarship in 2013 summer to spend six weeks intensive study over China. Youth of the Year recognizes the young people who serve and make a difference in our community and they will be honored for their selfless acts and character development.


Junior high debaters attended the Davenport West tournament. Seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis of Stilwell was the tournament champion in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate, while sixth-grader Animesh Joshi of Jordan Creek Elementary was the runner-up in LD. Both debaters were undefeated in the tournament.

Valley attended the Millard West High School tournament in Omaha, Neb. The team as a whole placed second in the Team Sweepstakes. Individual accomplishments were topped off by ninth-graders Alex Carther and Meta Miller winning the novice policy debate division without dropping a ballot.

The team of senior Carolyn Hoemann and junior Grady Stein were octofinalists (top 16) at the Dowling Catholic Invitational, which earned them their first bid to the national debate Tournament of Champions (TOC), which is held each spring at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Teams need two bids to be fully qualified. In Lincoln-Douglas debate, senior Jason Smith placed second in varsity LD, earning his fourth TOC bid. Junior Gina Scorpiniti was a quarterfinalist, while freshman Trent Gilbert was an octofinalist. This is the best performance by a Valley freshman at Dowling in the past 10 years.

Valley junior Sam Basler and Nolan Dahm won the varsity policy debate at the Iowa City City High debate tournament. In public forum, the team of seniors Mackenzie Copley and Ashton Woiwood placed second. The teams of senior Carolyn Hoemann and sophomore Manuel Smith, as well as juniors Lexy Takla and Grady Stein, were quarterfinalists. In varsity Lincoln-Douglas, the final round was closed out by co-champions, freshmen Trent Gilbert and TJ Foley. Third place was taken by Stilwell seventh grader Conal Thomas-McGinnis, and fourth place was freshman Evan McKinney. In novice LD, freshman Siena Cabbage placed second, while Jordan Creek sixth grader Animesh Joshi was a semifinalist. In novice policy, the team of freshmen Nora Raine and Katy Green placed second.

Valley debaters attended the National Qualifying Tournament at DM Lincoln High School, with six advancing to the Grand Nationals. They were junior Gina Scorpiniti in Lincoln-Douglas, freshman Trent Gilbert in Lincoln-Douglas, the team of juniors Brody Diehn and Rishi Shah in policy debate, and the team of juniors Alexis Takla and Tanner Barkley in public forum. Valley qualified more students than any other school in the West Iowa district and won the Team Sweepstakes award.

For the sixth consecutive year, Valley debate has won the state championship in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Valley senior Jason Smith closed out the final round with junior Gina Scorpiniti, and the two were declared co-champions. The team of juniors Nolan Dahm and Sam Basler were semifinalists in policy debate. Valley also won the team sweepstakes award in Lincoln-Douglas debate and placed second in the overall sweepstakes. Other elimination round participants included Rishi Shah, Brody Diehn, Trent Gilbert, TJ Foley, Evan McKinney, Jackie Chu, Conal Thomas-McGinnis, Manuel Smith, Lexy Takla, Grady Stein, Brian Gu, Alissa Smith and Ashton Woiwood.


Valley High School and Walnut Creek Campus sent a record 21 performances to the Iowa High School Speech Association’s All-State Festival. Valley’s 20 all-state entries set not only a school record, but a state record as well. Each school in the state is allowed to enter up to 23 performances into competition. Valley also set a record this year by having all 23 of its district entries advance to state competition. Another school record was set as three Critic’s Choice Awards were earned at all-state competition in radio news (Cooper Christensen, Jaclyn Warden, Elizabeth Reed and Sarah Phillips, director Glen Biermann and Jake Wheeler), group improvisational acting (Hira Mustafa and Grady Stein, directed by Joe Van Haecke) and musical theatre (Sam Cohrs, Emma Stier, Brandon Devine, Nicole Miller, Abby Hudson, Kara Masteller and Allison Streck, directed by Megan Helmers and Brianne Magel). The Critic’s Choice Award is given in each category to the group the critic feels best exemplifies that category. The Valley drama team was honored with the IHSSA All-State Festival’s E. Wayne Cooley Sweepstakes Award, given annually to the school with the most entries in the competition.

Gabe Mason was Walnut Creek’s entry to all-state with his performance of “Quarter Horse Dreaming.” Walnut Creek’s One Act Play group received a II rating at districts with members Ashley Stolz, Raechel Lewis, Michael Wyble, Hector Sanchez, Juan Castro, Mauri Castro, Wyatt Mylan, DeAntre Kelly, Sam Mooreland, Monica Haes, Siobhan Williams, Kyle Shepard and Cassidy Cannon.

Valley junior Dani Lipman, Valley sophomore Alex Johnson and Valley Southwoods freshman Grace Barker were selected to perform at the Iowa High School Speech Association’s Individual All-State Festival. Seven students received a I rating from each of their three judges at the state competition – Taylor Mankle in Spontaneous Speaking, Hannah Kate Fox in Acting, Dani Lipman in Solo Musical Theater, Bre Katcher in Expository Speaking, Kenzie Hamlett in Oratory, Henry Parizek in Radio News Announcing and Alex Johnson in Review.


Zane Gedler, Lauren Johnson and Todd Johnson were selected to All-State Jazz Band. Taylor Igram was also selected as an alternate.

Choralation was named Grand Champion of the Waukee Star Struck Show Choir Invitational. Other honors included Best Vocals, Best Show Band and Best Female Soloist to Emma Stier. Ignition also had a great showing, placing second out of 10 choirs in the prep division. Choralation was also named Grand Champion at the Emmetsburg Show Choir Invitational. Choralation is coached by Ryan Deignan and Ignition is coached by Haley Gibbons.

Valley and Valley Southwoods were represented very well at the Perry Band Olympics.  Out of 169 total performances, 109 received Division I ratings.  Of those, 11 soloists and three ensembles were recognized as Top Performers in their center.  They include: Taylor Altemeier, Sam Anderson, Natalie Bantz, Nick Behrends, Joe Brennan, Susannah Crichton, Todd Johnson, Jared Paine, Derek Pham, Noah Welch, Symphony Band Flute Ensemble, Symphony Band Percussion Ensemble and Concert Ensemble Saxophone Ensemble. In addition to those top placements, 34 additional soloists were recognized among the top five in their respective categories.

The following students received a I+ rating at the elementary band solo festival:
Clive (Instructor – Greg Simmons): Farah Hagen, Elea Cooper, Hazel Johnson, Imma Reineke, Quade Keenan, Emily Nicewarner, Max Simmons, Nathan White, Seth Croonquist, Isabelle Graham, Taryn Guthrie, Lauren Huffman, Elli Reel, Liana Sampson
Crestview (Instructor – Jerilyn Kobberdahl): Hailee Jorgensen, Tommy Weissenburger, Gwyn Chilcoat, Isabella Nadel, Kenia Flores, Cesilia Guzman, Zoey Weick, Nathan Willcockson, Jordyn Hayes, Grace Hoepker (2), Yajaira Triana, Kyle Elmore
Crossroads Park (Instructors – Jerilyn Kobberdahl, Karla Killinger): Jailyn Brewer Chapman, Melanie Wallace, Kelly Dulaney, Emmy Richardson, Katie Richardson, Katie Richards (2), Jake Stegman, Justin Hua (2), Alivia Fergus, Samantha Greene, Emily Collins
Fairmeadows (Instructor – David Kobberdahl): Isaiah Aldiano, Joslin Bawek, Kaitlyn Bebensee, AJ Bleskacek, Kaleb Clarke, Gracie Coleman, Jake Coleman, Austin Crawford, Aidan Drake, Madeline Echternacht, Nicholas Feingold, Cade Hoffman, Ayden Johnson, Jet Langel, Alex Ling, Kaitlyn Miller, Anthony Murdoch, Annalyn Poulsen, Jake Umble, Vitali Kittle
Hillside (Instructors – Jacob Strachan, Karla Killinger): Lesly De La Cruz, Avi Gedler, Melanie Isenhoff, Anna Borisenko, Abbie Clark, Zak Fleischman, David Gaunt, Angelika Baker
Jordan Creek (Instructor – Tony Garmoe, Roxianne Scott): Megan Weis, Halle Norton, Peter Erickson, Henry Leaders, Gracia Koele (2), Sam Hall, Elyse Porter, Landon Denker
Western Hills (Instructors – Jon Lewis, Roxianne Scott): Alanna Scherer, Alise Kuennen, Adelaide Frohardt, Nicholas Lucht
Westridge (Instructor – Tony Garmoe, Roxianne Scott): Conner Niland, Patrick Niland, Sophie Hixon, Jacey Spann, Eli Jaskolka, Brogan Kirkpatrick, Lauren Gilbert, Sarah Montgomery, Mari Wharff, Jacey Spann.


Senior Adam Morse was nominated to the Dexter/USBC High School All-American Boys Bowling Team, which will be announced in May. Five male and five female USBC high school members are selected annually to the All-American team, earning a $1,000 scholarship. Selection is based on bowling accomplishments, academic achievement, letters of recommendation, extra-curricular and community involvement, submitted essays and resumes.

The boys bowling team ended its season with a 9-4 record and a 3-0 mark in the CIC Western Division, finishing in second place at the conference meet. The team was the district champion and qualified for the state meet, placing fourth. The team is coached by Chris Amundson.

The Competition Cheer Squad placed fifth nationally at the National Cheerleaders Association Jr. and Sr. High School Nationals in Dallas, Texas. Team members are Sammie Bullington, Leah Carlson, Carter Forrest, Ashley Freeman, Taylor Glade, Bri Hagar, Jenna Hanson, Kaitlyn Harrington, Ashley Joos, Carissa Just, Maggie Laws, Natalie Lawyer, Makenna Lloyd, Haley Melz, Amanda Merck, Mackenzie Moran, Kayla Phalen, Meenu Raja, Bre Reeves, Megan Renkel, Megan Schnoebelen, Kaylee Shelton, Claudia Stewart, Jessica Studer, Sara Wetzel and Taylor White. Coach – Beth Ferguson.

The boys and girls basketball teams each advanced to the state tournament. The boys finished in second place after falling in the championship game. The boys are coached by Jeff Horner, Josh Frey, JR Angle and Kevin Pearce. The girls dropping out in the quarterfinals. They qualified for their first state tournament since 2007. The team broke the school’s single game scoring record twice this season, scoring 97 points and 99 points, en route to setting the single season total points record at 1,573. The team won the CIML Central Iowa Conference title outright, as senior Madi Agey took over the school’s career assists (345) and single season assists (119) records this season. The girls team is led by head coach Josef Sigrist, Chris Larson, Monique Jones, Seth Hagarty and Ross Bower.

The boys’ swimming team earned the district championship as Sam Gorham was named District Swimmer of the Year with four first place finishes.  The team ended the year with a third-place finish at the state meet: 200 Medley Relay (Carl Skoog, Bradley Rhein, Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek) second place; 200 Free Relay (Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek, Carl Skoog, Sam Gorham) second place and All-American consideration; 400 Free Relay (Carl Skoog, Ethan Eiler, Beau Blazek, Sam Gorham) second place, new school record and All-American consideration; 50 Free – Sam Gorham, third place and new school record; 100 Butterfly – Ethan Eiler, fifth place; 100 Free – Sam Gorham third place, Carl Skoog fifth place, Beau Blazek 18th; 500 Free – Nick Fox 12th; 100 Breaststroke – Nick Fox 23rd. Coaches are Shawn DeBoef, Stephen Davis and Sue Boyle.

The wrestling team ended the season as district champions after placing second in the conference tournament. Six individuals qualified for the state meet (honors below). Coaches are Travis Young, Jeff Dyer, Chris Novak, Thad Loeb and Tony Wieland.

Conference/District/State Honors

Name Sport Honor(s)
Adam Morse Boys Bowling All-American nominee, CIC individual champion, 3rd place at state
Sean Graves Boys Bowling 12th place at conference meet
Turner Scott Boys Basketball first-team all-CIML CIC Western Division
Quinton Curry Boys Basketball second-team all-CIML CIC Western Division
Ted Brown Boys Basketball honorable mention all-CIML CIC Western Division
Madi Agey Girls Basketball Des Moines Register Elite All-State Team, first-team all-conference, firs-team all-division
Grace Vander Weide Girls Basketball Des Moines Register Elite All-State Team, first-team all-conference, firs-team all-division
Hannah Fuller Girls Basketball second-team all-division, second-team all-conference
Kasey Feldt Girls Basketball second-team all-division
Whitney Fuller Girls Basketball honorable mention all-division
Jake Koethe Wrestling 2nd place finish at state meet, conference champion
Jack Koethe Wrestling 8th place finish at state meet
Rocky Lombardi Wrestling state qualifier, 2nd place finish at conference meet
Brady Smith Wrestling state qualifier, 2nd place finish at conference meet
Tristan Cobb Wrestling state qualifier
Zach Matt Wrestling state qualifier


Valley orchestra directors Phil Peters and Michele Senger have been selected to participate in Mozart’s Worlds, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute. The institute will take place June 16-July 4 in Vienna, Austria.

Interim Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Carol Seid received the Drake University School of Education’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Valley girls basketball coach Josef Sigrist was named the Western Iowa District Class 5A Coach of the Year as well as the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.