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Belin-Blank Center Honors 17 WDMCS Students, Teachers

The Belin-Blank Center recognized eleven West Des Moines Community Schools students and six teachers at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony in September.

The following students were recognized by the Belin-Blank Center for outstanding performance in the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search:

  • Carsen Codel, ninth grade
  • Kyle Juist, 10th grade
  • Katherine Snodgrass, 10th grade
  • Radha Velamuri, 10th grade
  • Kathryn Wittrock, ninth grade
  • Elliot Baughman, sixth grade
  • Andrew Hedrick, seventh grade

Belin-Blank also recognized ninth-grader Ella Henricksen and junior Owen Smith for their participation in the Blank Summer Institute, as well as junior Aarushi Dervesh and senior Brian Gu for their participation in the Secondary Student Training Program, a five-week residential summer research program at the University of Iowa.

The recognized students could honor a teacher who had a profound influence on their life and education. The WDMCS educators honored at the event were:

  • Amy Jenkins (Crestview School of Inquiry),
  • Julie Kaufman (Westridge Elementary),
  • Dean Myers (Indian Hills Junior High),
  • Lynda Niffenegger (Crossroads Park Elementary),
  • Lisa Sobotka (Valley Southwoods Freshman High School),
  • Tom Beckman (retired, formerly Valley Southwoods Freshman High School and Walnut Creek Campus), and
  • Donald Rasko (retired, formerly Indian Hills Junior High).

Valley High School was also recognized at this year’s ceremony as one of the Iowa schools ranked among the Top 25 of the Iowa AP Index. The index rating is calculated by dividing the number of AP exams taken by the number of students in the school’s graduating class. Valley High School, ranked ninth, was among the Top 10 of the Iowa AP Index for the eighth consecutive year. It offers more than 20 Advanced Placement courses. Enrollment in these courses continues to increase, with 640 students taking 1,306 AP Exams during the 2015-16 school year.