Informaline May 18, 2015


en español

New Westridge Elementary Principal We are pleased to announce that Nathan Ballagh has been approved as the new Westridge Elementary principal. Mr. Ballagh will begin his duties on July 1, 2015.

We are excited to have Mr. Ballagh as a member of our administrative team and the educational leader at Westridge Elementary School.

He is currently working at the Southeast Polk School district, where he has served for 11 years as an educator and administrator; most recently as junior high school administrator.

Mr. Ballagh earned bachelor’s degrees in history and education and a master’s degree in preK-12 principalship from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). He is continuing his post-graduate at UNI, working to obtain his superintendent’s license.

WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy presented the recommendation to the WDMCS Board of Education at its May 11 meeting. For more information on school board meetings, please visit

Congratulations, Graduates The West Des Moines Community Schools proudly announces that 711 students will graduate from the district this year. Valley High School will graduate 636 seniors, plus six Certificates of Attendance (foreign exchange students). Walnut Creek Campus will graduate 69 students. Fifty-one students will graduate with a traditional diploma, and 18 will graduate with a core diploma.

Walnut Creek Campus Commencement
Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
Valley Performing Arts Center (3650 Woodland Ave, West Des Moines)

Valley High School Commencement
Sunday, May 24, at 1 p.m.
Drake Knapp Center (2601 Forest Ave., Des Moines)

Hillside Elementary Receives Legacy Award The Leonard Bernstein Center in New York has awarded Hillside Elementary School the Legacy School Award for its implementation of the Center’s Artful Learning approach for nearly 12 years.

Patrick Bolek, lead artful learning trainer, presented the award to Principal Dr. Robert Davis at the May 11 meeting of the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education. The school and its approach to learning was the feature of the School Board’s workshop that night.

Artful Learning is a school improvement model of the Leonard Bernstein Center. American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s vision was to use music and the other fine and performing arts as a means of instilling a lifelong love of learning in students. Artful Learning embeds the arts within the learning process through a carefully researched, concept-based, interdisciplinary model that has proven to increase comprehension in students as well as improve academic achievement

Hillside has used the Artful Learning model longer than any school in Iowa.

Seniors Come Home Students who attended a West Des Moines Community Schools elementary are invited back for Seniors Come Home. This special event gives seniors the opportunity to visit their home elementary school so teachers and fellow students can wish them well on their upcoming graduation. Seniors Come Home has been a tradition in the WDMCS for more than 20 years.

On May 18, graduating seniors are invited back to their home school at the following times:

  • Clive — 3:30 p.m.
  • Crestview — 3:15 p.m.
  • Crossroads — 4 p.m.
  • Fairmeadows — 3:45 p.m.
  • Hillside — 4 p.m.
  • Jordan Creek — 3 p.m.
  • Western Hills — 3 p.m.
  • Westridge — 4 p.m.

All retired elementary teachers and staff are welcome as well.

Valley Named to “Best High Schools” List Valley High School was one of 117 Iowa schools named to a national “Best High Schools” list, released by the U.S. News and World Report on May 12.

Valley was ranked eighth in Iowa and 1,562nd nationally, out of 29, 070 total public schools reviewed. The rankings were based on student/teacher ratio, college readiness, and average proficiency in math and reading.

Preregister for a 2015-16 Bus Pass TodaThe WDMCS Transportation department asks all families who would like bus transportation for the 2015-16 school year to please register by Friday, June 5, 2015. All students who wish to receive transportation (this includes returning students and new students) are required to register, if they have not already done so. You may register your student for new transportation or change existing transportation in one of the following ways:

  • Register electronically: Go to the ‘Transportation’ tab.
  • Register by mail (2102 Delavan Drive, West Des Moines, 50265) or fax (515-633-4999): Download a form.
  • Register by phone: 515-633-4990 (en espanol at 515-633-4989) and follow the prompts.

Bus service preregistration is very important in order to establish routes and provide your student’s bus pass. The goal of preregistration is to plan enough capacity to match demand and reserve a student’s seat for next year. Students who have preregistered will receive their bus passes at fall registration in August. Those who do not preregister may experience delays and risk not having transportation reserved when school starts.

As a reminder, to qualify for transportation services, the student must meet the minimum following criteria:

  • Attend a WDMCS school or Sacred Heart School
  • Attend the school within the assigned school boundaries as determined by their primary residence
  • Live outside the half-mile walk zone from assigned school for grades K-8 and the 3/4-mile walk zone from assigned school for grades 9-12

Students in kindergarten through eighth grades who live more than two miles from school and students in ninth through 12th grade who live more than three miles from school are eligible for free transportation. Students who live between the walk zone and the free zone may pay for transportation.

Please see the district website regarding questions about transportation, or call the Transportation department at 515-633-4902 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Murphy Earns Iowa World Language Association Award West Des Moines Community Schools Spanish teacher Amy Murphy was named the Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year by the Iowa World Language Association (IWLA). The award is given to the teacher who demonstrates the most exemplary work in the classroom and provides outstanding service to the profession in the state of Iowa.

Murphy teaches grades 1-6 at Fairmeadows and Western Hills elementary schools, going into classrooms twice each week. She has been teaching with the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) for eight years and has also taught at Clive and Crossroads elementaries. She is the World Languages department chair for the WDMCS, and is a member of the district’s Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) team.

No School on May 25 There will be no school for students on Monday, May 25, as it is Memorial Day.

Reminder: Last Day of School June 3, 2015 School was not in session Jan. 7 due to severe cold and low wind-chill values. The last day of school is now set for Wednesday, June 3, which will follow the early-out schedule.

Virtual Backpack Flyers on community and district events, activities and programs from Two Rivers Martial Arts, the West Des Moines Public Library, and more!