Drone shot of students outside Valley High School

195 Students, Teachers, Community Members Collaborate on District Video

Almost 200 students, family members, district staff, volunteers, and community members contributed their time, energy, and talents to a new video for the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS).

Featuring an original song composed and performed by Valley High School musicians, the video focuses on the most important people in our district: the students.

See someone you know? Let them know by sharing the video using #WelcometoWDMCS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

The Story Behind Our Video
Our students were a creative force behind the video, assisting with all aspects of production, from the script to the original song. Often using their own words, they talked about their experiences in the district, from working together in class to designing a fashion line and programming a computer.

Valley High School graduate and 2015-16 Valley Student Council President Thomas Bonus speaks in the video.

Valley High School graduate and 2015-16 Valley Student Council President Thomas Bonus speaks in the video.

Valley High School graduate and 2015-16 Valley Student Council President Thomas Bonus provided the video’s theme in an interview a few weeks before his graduation. With a senior student’s perspective, he talked about changes in learning brought about by new technology and the dawn of the Information Age. He emphasized the importance of interactive learning, collaboration, and the ability of education to prepare students for their futures. To show those opportunities in action, we searched for students who wanted to tell their stories and would represent the district as a whole.

Eighth-grader Joseph Maxwell helped adapt his lines in the video from a statement he had submitted to the website using the “Share Your Story” button. Alayna Meeks and Susanne Schemmel, both 2016 Valley graduates, talked about their respective authentic learning experiences in Valley’s Culinary Arts and Design Studio classes. Sixth-grade Hillside Elementary students and English Learners Oscar Ivan Aldana Barrera, Jesus Berber, and Juan Soto-Silva helped write and translate their own lines so their story could be told in both English and Spanish. Walnut Creek Campus graduate Chloe Christensen tried on a cap and gown for the video just a few weeks before her real graduation.  Many other students shared their unique stories, interests, and goals with us as we explored the district through their eyes.

Recent Valley High School graduate Olympia Manning, left, composed the district theme.

Recent Valley High School graduate Olympia Manning, left, composed the district theme.

Students also created the original song heard at the beginning and end of the video. Olympia Manning, a 2016 Valley High School graduate interested in film score composition, composed the song herself and worked with videographer Ryan Buck on the lyrics. Manning and seven other students from the Valley band, choir, and orchestra learned and recorded the song with help from Buck. The students developed their own parts, performed the song for a demo and the final recording, and participated in the opening shot of the district video.

Part of the West Des Moines Community Schools promise to students is that they will have a voice. Each students’ journey is part of our district story, and the goal of this video was providing students the opportunity to tell their own stories. We feel privileged to have worked with so many students who helped us tell our story with authenticity.

We would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who was part of the video, especially the many students and teachers who donated their time and energy and Ryan Paul Buck Productions. A full list of credits can be seen below.


Produced by Ryan Paul Buck Productions
with additional footage provided by Wil Abeling

“District Theme”
Composed by Olympia Manning
Lyrics by Ryan Buck and Olympia Manning
Guitar: Liam Carroll
Bass Guitar: Matt Christensen
Drums: Jakhari Durham
Vocals: Derek Lutt, Nicole Miller, and Caroline Stump
Violin: Olympia Manning
Keyboard: Curtis Craven, Nicole Miller, and Caroline Stump
Choir: Abisai Garcia, Quinn Kelly, Maya Knudsen, Azure Peterson, Maren Stegh, Justin Toth, Crystal Westberg

Oscar Ivan Aldana Barrera
Jesus Berber
Ben Berry
Cohen Bialas
Thomas Bonus
Mariana Castro Dominguez
Chloe Christensen
Medardo Constanza
Carson Copple
Farrah Ganske
Sawyer Haskin
Eddie Hybels
Drake Larson
Joseph Maxwell
Alayna Meeks
Layne Slater
Juan Soto-Silva
Susanne Schemmel
Rachel Werner
Blaise Wittern
Zoe Young
Jordan Creek Kids Care Club
Valley Girls Basketball Team

District Staff and Community Members
Chris Amundson
Pam Ballard
Pete Bissinger
Lucas Brandt
Anna Brown
Carmen Clark
Melissa Clayton
Kim Davis
Ryan Deignan
Kim Dunbar
Haley Gibbons
Stacy Hansen
David Maxwell
Janell Mikels
Adam Nidey
Laura Pals
Phil Peters
Amanda Pichler
Laura Roberts
Joe Sigrist
Gregory Simmons
Alisha Stewart
Barb Tigges
Josh Waymire
Joe Wiltgen
Aaron Witt
Helena Young

Special thanks to all the students who participated in the opening shot of the video:

Group Leaders
Catherine Christian, Jared Fisher, Olivia Hope, Nic Lovan, Carter Oakley,
Theresia Reineke, Jacie Stewart, Justine Williamson

Anabel Aguilar
John Anderson
Cael Anderson
Macy Anfinson
Whisper Arbs
Christina Arbs
Brindy Arredondo
Zachria Atal
Madison Ater
Connor Bach
Jeremy Bailey
Angelika Baker
Quinton Ballou
Jaryn Barkley
Janse Barkley
Daija Bash
Karthikeyan Bashiyam
Judith Beaty
Jessica Biede
Darren Brown
Trigger Cook
Lily Custer
Lily Dahlen
Neishha Desai
Amara Dorr
Alyssa Dougherty
Dayna Dunnwald
Drew Dunnwald
Nick Edgar
Haven Eichinger
Amara Feitelson
Hannah Fry
Ryan Funck
Jasmine Gandhi
Conall Gardner
Jessica Gimba
Kathia Gonzalez
Helen Gould
Kassidy Grissom
Yaidely Guzman
Farah Hagan
Thomas Hathaway
Isabella Heiden
Riley Heil
Holly Heil
Marleigh Heil
Lillian Herteen
Tyndal Hervey
Eleanor Horak
Brianna Huisman
Melanie Isenhoff
Marina Ivanovski
Lorena Jacks
Catalina Jacks
Theo Jackson
Braylon Jenkins
Will Johnson
Kamiyah Kazeze
Damari Kazeze
Harshini Keshavamurthy
Rachel Kirby
Alexa Knight
Gavin Knudsen
Lucas Koerselman
Jacob Koerselman
Olivia Lamphere
Drake Larson
Kellan Lawson
Isabella Le
Aurora Lee
Aleena Lee
Bella Mancero
Davis Maurath
Alison McDonnell
Jordan McKechnie
Andrew McKinney
Claire Meyers
Mattea Miller
Sydney Mixon
Samuel Muru
Nithya Myneni
Lillian Nelson
Jack Nelson
Elise Nikkel
Luke Nikkel
Kadyn Olberding
Gregory Pendegraft
Saxton Press
Madilynn Publow
Jaden Qualls
Branin Quinones
Austin Reding
Jadyn Reis
Noah Samples
Langston Samples
Priscilla Saucedo
Michael Sbrocco
Isabel Serio
Tishara Slater
Talyn Slater
Kailee St. John
Cecelia Stegh
Nathan Tenney
Isabel Thomas
Jack Trevillyan
India Tuai
Lillian Tuai
Delaney Turner
Ethan Tuttle
Jacob Underwood
Norah VandeBerg
Andrew VandeBerg
Alex Walters
Brennen Westberg
Ceira White (Current)
Kelsey Whitfield
Dava Wiegel
Mary Yelick
Paula Vivian Youbor