WDMCS is Second Home for Student Council President
Valley High School student council president Shubham Tayal remembers his first day of kindergarten clearly. He shared the memory in a speech at the annual West Des Moines Community Schools staff welcome back event in August.
“I remember walking to my bus stop in my Thomas the Train backpack, by myself for the very first time,” he said. “Now keep in my mind that when I say, ‘by myself,’ I mean with my parents trailing 15 feet behind me taking pictures.”
He remembers wanting to know what was for lunch, meeting new teachers and friends, loving recess, and looking forward to coming back the next day.
“Ever since the first day I stepped into kindergarten at Crestview, I felt welcome…” Tayal said. “Everything that day was amazing.”
That first day of school was the first of 13 in the WDMCS for Tayal. Now a senior at Valley, he attended Crestview Elementary, Indian Hills Junior High School, and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School. After hearing his speech, Crestview School of Inquiry teacher librarian Ann Reynolds shared some of Tayal’s old yearbook photos and profiles in an email. In one, Tayal said he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. Six years later, that hasn’t changed.
“I’ve always had a passion and interest for learning about the body and mind,” he said. “Health care seemed like the best way to channel that passion and also make a difference.”
Tayal has taken many steps towards achieving his lifelong goal. He is a certified lifeguard and is preparing to work as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). He has volunteered at a hospital since the summer before starting ninth grade and now helps coordinate other volunteers during his shifts. A National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and honors student, Tayal has a 4.32 cumulative GPA and plans to follow a pre-medical track in college.
He has also explored his future plans through Valley’s HOSA-Future Health Professionals chapter. An international student organization, HOSA gives students the opportunity to learn more about the health care field and promotes careers in health care. Students take on health care-related community service and fundraising projects and participate in competitions related to the field. Valley High School’s HOSA chapter was founded in 2016-17, and Tayal was one of the first to join, becoming president of the state chapter that same year.
For his senior honors project, he is working to start a HOSA group at Indian Hills Junior High. It is important to him to secure a future for the Valley High School chapter and provide junior high students with a place to start exploring their interests early on. For him, similar opportunities were what made the WDMCS such a welcoming place.
“I’ve always felt like I could find my place in the school,” he said. “I remember all my teachers, and they were all inclusive and provided opportunities for me to excel if I could…. I don’t really have a specific moment or person. It’s more the idea of the constant—that year to year, school to school, period to period, each teacher was able to include the kids.”
Tayal touched on the same theme in his speech to staff in August. Using one of his favorite subjects—algebra—he calculated the time students spend sleeping, at school, and at home. He realized that many may spend as much waking time at school as they do at home.
“How is it that I never noticed that I spend so much time away from home?” he asked. “It’s because I didn’t. The West Des Moines Community Schools has been exactly that to me: a second home.”