My Journey Through the WDMCS

Written By: Maddie Hamborg

maddie_hamborg_graduationI have been in the WDMCS district my entire school career.  I attended Jordan Creek Elementary from kindergarten through sixth grade, and then transitioned to Stilwell, Valley Southwoods, and, ultimately, Valley High School.

I had great experiences at each of these schools.  My fondest memories of Jordan Creek revolve around it’s traditions–from a field trip to the Omaha Zoo to the sixth grade bike ride and clap-out.  At Stilwell, I participated in the school plays and in the mime shows.  While I am far from a brilliant actor/mime, these experiences allowed me to meet many new people and to try something completely out of my comfort zone.  I also began to run cross-country, which I continued throughout Valley Southwoods and Valley High School.  My fondest memories of Southwoods and Valley are cross-country and orchestra events, such as “Frisky Friday and pasta dinners,” and the many orchestra concerts and trips.

I believe that the West Des Moines schools, and Valley in particular, provided me with a strong educational background, which will help me be very competitive when I enter the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., this fall.  Beginning in eighth grade, I took advanced level classes, which prepared me to enter the Valley Honors Program.  The classes I took as part of this program were very challenging. They forced me to develop a strong work ethic and time management skills that will prove invaluable in college. One of the unique things about Valley is that it is not uncommon for students to have a teacher for more than one year.  Some of my favorite teachers are those I had throughout my high school career.  Mrs. Karen Downing was my ELP /honors seminar teacher, and she inspired me to accomplish things I never would have imagined I could do as a mere freshman.  In addition, my orchestra teacher, Mr. Phil Peters, and cross-country coach, Mr. Bob Hardin, pushed everyone to work toward “personal bests,” and to be the best musician or runner he or she could be.

Additionally, Mrs. Downing and others at Valley encouraged me to seek balance in my life, and to find a few activities outside of the academic world that not only filled my time but also made me happy.  If I could offer any advice to underclassmen, I would tell them to do just that:  Instead of loading your schedule with a variety of clubs and activities, focus on something you could see yourself having a passion for or expanding on in the future.  For me, it was working with special needs students.  During my sophomore year, I began volunteering in the special needs department at Jordan Creek Elementary. Ultimately, I was able to create an extracurricular program in which 30 special needs students now participate, which is designed to increase their physical activity in a comfortable social environment.  WDMCS gave me the necessary training and confidence to begin this program, and I know I will take this experience with me throughout my life.