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Articles in Ames High School

Ames High School graduation rates trending upward

State data on four-year graduation rates released by the Iowa Department of Education last week show continued improvement of graduation rates for the Ames Community School District. For the past four years, Ames High School graduation rates, especially rates for most student subgroups, have been trending upward and exceeding state graduation rates.

Overall, 93.2 percent of Ames High School seniors graduated in 2016—an all-time high in the past five years.

Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross said the steadily improving graduation rates in Ames are the result of systemic work to ensure that students meet milestones that are predictors of graduation, such as reading at grade level by third grade and attending school regularly beginning in preschool.

“Doing the work to ensure students graduate begins long before high school,” Ross said.

Besides supporting academic achievement, the District takes proactive measures using an Early Indicator System (EIS) to identify students in middle school and high school who are at risk for failing or dropping out based on attendance, academic performance, or office referrals. Implemented in 2013, the EIS is now used District-wide.

At the high school level, the EIS helps staff identify students who need support to meet graduation requirements. These students receive coordinated interventions that may include Additional Instruction, Alternative Learning Programs and Credit Recovery plans. Since the EIS was implemented, Ames High School graduation rates have improved and exceeded state graduation rates for all student subgroups except Asian students.

Highlights of the report:

  • The graduation rate for black students in Ames High School has improved from 53 percent in 2013, to 70 percent in 2015 and to 95.2 percent in 2016. The state’s 2016 graduation rate for black students is 79.7.
  • The graduation rate for students with individualized education plans (IEPs) has improved from 63.3 percent in 2013, to 75 percent in 2015 and 77.78 percent in 2016.
  • The graduation rate for students with low income backgrounds has been rising since 2012 when 73.6 percent of students graduated, to 85.4 percent graduating in 2016.
  • Hispanic students at Ames High School graduated at a rate of 95 percent in 2016, a rate higher than their white peers but down from 100 percent from 2015.
  • For the first time in five years, graduation rates for Asian students in 2016 dropped below state averages, to 87.5 percent.
  • While still above the state average of 92.93 percent, graduation rates for white students dipped slightly from 94.3 percent in 2015 to 93.15 percent in 2016, maintaining a narrow range between 92.98 and 94.3 percent for the past five years.

Fluctuations in the subgroup percentages often indicate a change in the number of students in the group in addition to overall performance.

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Ames High School Spring Play explores the complexities of love

The Theatre Department presents “Love/Sick, 7 p.m., April 28 and 29.

Sometimes we find who we are in a relationship; sometimes we lose who we are in a relationship. Sometimes we get what we want in a relationship, and sometimes the relationship is not our destiny. These are the themes the Ames High School Theatre Department will explore when it presents John Cariani’s “Love/Sick.” Following the popularity of “Almost Maine”, “Love/Sick” is nine vignettes that examine the lifecycle of love in various relationships. Beginning the evening is a one-act pre-show, “The Fifteen Minute Hamlet,” by Tom Stoppard.  Nine actors will recreate Shakespeare’s most infamous play in fifteen minutes.

Shows start at 7 p.m., April 28 and 29, in the Ames High School Auditorium.  Tickets are $4 for middle school aged children and younger and $5 for high school aged students and adults.

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Public invited to review new science textbooks for Ames High School

The Ames Community School District invites the public to review new textbooks for Ames High School science courses. All of the textbooks available for review support the newly revised Ames High School Science curriculum and essential standards that align with the Iowa Science Standards.  

Textbooks available for review:

A Natural Approach to Chemistry–(2016, LAB-aids). This text will be used as a resource for the Science of Physical Systems, Foundations of Chemistry, and Advanced Chemistry courses.

Pearson Chemistry–(2017, Pearson). This text will be used as a resource for the Foundations of Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry courses.

Physics, by James S. Walker–(2014, Pearson). This text will be used as a resource for the Foundations of Physics course.

The Criteria for Reviewing Textbooks Form will be available along with the textbooks.

Times and locations for viewing textbooks:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 11-17, at Ames High School, 1921 Ames High Dr., in the Student Services Center,
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 11-17, at the Ames Community Schools District Offices, 2005 24th Street.
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Pancake printer interfaces with food, technology and art

Student and pancake printer

Ames High School freshman Cole Malone points out features of a pancake design he programed for a 3-D printer.

Cole Malone has a passion for figuring out how things work. The Ames High School ninth grader typically applies his grit and creativity—and engineering and design skills—to science, math and art classes. In his spare time, he’s likely pondering animation design or gaming software. But when he had the opportunity to try out the Ames High School’s new  3-D pancake printer, Malone couldn’t resist the challenge.

Yes, there is such a thing as a 3-D pancake printer. Carol Van Waardhuizen, who teaches Family and Consumer Science classes at Ames High School, arranged to purchase the pancake ‘bot with a Perkins grant (provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006) as a way to introduce her students to technology in food preparation.

“I was researching food trends for 2017,” Van Waardhuizen said. “I learned that even Barilla has a 3-D printer to make pasta. I wanted my students to have a chance to learn how computers interface with food and design.”

Malone, who’s part of Van Waardhuizen’s Housing and Interior Design class, said accomplishing the learning goals between computer interface and food and design required solving problems in physics, thermodynamics, software programming and common logic.

To print his pancake designs, in the shape of houses with intricate features, he had to find drawing software to add to the pancake ‘bot’s menu. He  had to make sure the air pressure in the feed hose was set to deliver the batter at the correct speed and volume, that the viscosity of the batter was compatible with the design, and that the darker colored batter printed first so the lighter colors wouldn’t burn on the griddle.

“I think it’s most important for people my age to learn how to solve problems quickly, to figure out what works and discard what doesn’t work,” he said. “In engineering and science and design, you need to know the basics and then keep working to solve things.”

Despite the high tech process, Malone remembered, in the end, the art of pancake making depends on at least one basic principle.

“No matter how fancy the design, when a pancake bubbles, it’s ready to flip, he said.”

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Ames High School Drama Department presents “Guys and Dolls”

The streets of Broadway when fedoras, showgirls, and a few colorful shady characters ruled the street is is the setting for Ames High School’s production of ‘“Guys and Dolls,” a musical fable based on characters by Damon Runyon. Ames High School students are cast as characters like Nathan Detroit, who is trying to find a location for his “floating crap game”, while attempting to keep the game a secret from his lovelorn, beleaguered fiancée, Adelaide. Meanwhile, Sarah Brown’s earnest efforts to keep her mission open are distracted by a handsome, smooth-talking gambler, Sky Masterson.  

Curtain is 7:30 p.m., Feb. 10 and 11, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 12 in the Ames High School Auditorium. Admission is $10 for persons in ninth grade and older and $8 for children in eighth grade and younger.

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Ames students surpass state peers in College Readiness Report

Ames High School students are more prepared for success in postsecondary education and training than their peers in the state and the region, according to a new state website announced by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today.

The Post Secondary Readiness Report shows that 83 percent of students who graduated from Ames High School enrolled in a postsecondary institution within one year of graduation, compared to the state average of 71.1 percent and the Heartland area schools average of 72.7 percent. Ames High School students enrolled in remedial math and English courses at a lower percentage than their state and regional peers, as well. Just 10 percent of Ames High School students enrolled in remedial courses within a year of graduating from high school compared to 16.1 percent  of Heartland area students and 23.2 percent of students statewide.

Ames High School’s results exceed the Governor’s Future Ready goal for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have postsecondary education or training beyond high school by 2025.

The Postsecondary Readiness Report is a collaboration among the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development and the Board of Regents. The report is based on data from 2011-12 through 2013-14. Although the findings show the majority of Ames High School students are college and career-ready based on state criteria when they graduate, the data are at least three years old, says Ames High School Principal Spence Evans, and they don’t reflect the school’s more recent changes in instruction and interventions.

“In recent years, Ames High School has launched new evidence-based instructional practices and improved its use of student achievement data to support students and close achievement gaps,” Evans said. “Teachers in Professional Learning Communities use their own observation and data from assessments to identify which students need intervention or enrichment. Besides providing Additional Instruction, the school has a built-in Plus period providing targeted assistance to students during the school day.”

Statewide and individual school results, as well as more information about the Postsecondary Readiness Reports website. The reports represent the first time the state has provided comprehensive information about student postsecondary enrollment and preparedness that can be connected to every public high school in Iowa. The web-based tool provides information on enrollment in colleges and universities, remedial course-taking rates in key content areas of reading and mathematics, and postsecondary retention and completion rates for students who graduated from public high schools in Iowa, statewide and by Iowa high school.

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Ames High School Business Collaborative gives students soft skills employers seek

High school business studentsAs a junior in high school, Stephen McKown imagined that a boss’s expectations in the realm of employment would be similar to what his teachers at school expect.

“Your boss would be like a teacher who assigns projects that you complete and you move on to the next project. One thing after another,” he said.

As a student in the Ames High School Business Engagement Collaborative, however, McKown is working beyond the classroom to understand the skills and attributes employers need and expect.

Vicki Hales, the Ames High School business teacher who designed the program in cooperation with Alison Doyle, Marketing Director of the Iowa State University Research Park, said businesses are looking for new employees who come ready with employability skills.

“Those soft skills are hard to teach in the classroom,” she said.

The Collaborative provides high school students experience working with businesses to gain skills in entrepreneurship, communication and project management. Iowa State University Research Park provides space in its new, state of the art building, and mentorship and guidance from Doyle.

Doyle said ISURP was motivated to implement the program because its tenant companies are increasingly looking further back into a student’s educational process to begin recruiting talent. They also want students to be more prepared when they enter the workforce with soft skills.

Hales said students learn the value of showing up on time, learning how to speak in a professional manner to someone they don’t know, how to collaborate in and communicate with a group, and how to understand someone else’s perspective, for example.

“Having students learn in an authentic business setting working on projects throughout the community helps them naturally acquire and enhance those skills,” she said.

One of the benefits of the program is the opportunity it gives students to test out an array of interest areas through the various projects business partners are providing, she said.

“We’ve already had students discover they don’t have as much interest in a particular area as they thought they did, but we have also had students find talent and passion in things they never considered.”

Tatiana Tankhai, a senior who’s currently working on three projects, said she’s learned she’s talented at planning and organizing.

“Students do learn and grow from this program,” Tankhai said. “This class gives us people to guide us. We get feedback and we’re learning something new every day.”

McKown said the process is usually harder than he thought it would be.

“It’s more like climbing up a rock wall, finding one foothold after the next,” he said. “You learn to conquer something new.”

Students have help finding that foothold through guidance from Hales and Doyle.

“The students receive mentoring so they understand the business expectations and hone their work until it’s top notch,” Hales said. “By the time the businesses see a project proposal, it’s a good product and not the first draft.”

The research park provides the space and Doyle’s time at no charge to the District.

“We see this as a way to expose students to a variety of possible career paths, company brands and provide a true experiential learning experience. It’s a win win for our students and our companies.”

Hales said businesses are encouraged to give feedback and fine tune students’ projects until they meet their satisfaction.

“Their grade for the class, however is based on an assessment of their soft skills, which are the competencies required to be met for DMACC credit,” she said.  “More important than their grade, this program helps students become better employees for our local businesses, and that comes back to benefit our community.”

Students in the Business Engagement Collaborative receive both Ames High and DMACC credit upon successful completion of this course.

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Girls swim and dive team state champions again

The Little Cyclones’ girls swim and dive team’s sixth state swimming championship in seven years came together Nov. 4 and 5 when the team won four events and broke state records at the YMCA in Marshalltown.

Ames was favored to win its second title in a row and sixth since 2010, despite being forced to train in an alternate facility for a period of time when its pool was out of commission requiring repairs.

Coach Dan Flannery told the Ames Tribune the team could have lost its edge, but is too solid as a unit to make excuses.

“We just took advantage of our opportunities and scored more points than anybody else,” he said.

The team became just the seventh team ever to score more than 350 points in a state meet, shattering an old record in the medley relay and  setting another record in the 400 freestyle relay.  

Read the full story in the Ames Tribune.


Photo credit Ames Tribune

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Ames High School Girls swim team garners national award

The The National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) has named the Ames High School Girls Swim team No. 1 in the nation in its class for its All America Award. NISCA is a professional organization that supports High School coaches of all aquatic sports and is dedicated to coaches’ education and athlete recognition through its All America programs.

For team member Grace Snyder, the award was an unexpected bonus following a perfect regular season and a fifth state title in six years.

“We weren’t expecting this award, so we were shocked and excited,” said Snyder, who’s starting her senior year. “There’s a big range of schools in our class. We were especially proud of our academic showing.”

Coach Dan Flannery said he was more proud of his state championship team’s collective GPA than its meet record.

“The National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) gave us a “Gold” standard for our collective GPA of 3.89,” he said.

Snyder credits the Ames Community School District for helping students at every level with “the skills and character they need to study, do their classwork, prepare for college and life.” She says the District builds students’ intrinsic motivation and all the teachers and coaches are supportive.

Flannery said he recognizes the girls; unselfish attitudes and work ethic that add up to success.

“The first thought that comes to mind is that all of our girls are willing to sacrifice for the good of the group rather than the individual,” he said.  “Everyone works so hard and has individual goals, but our Ames kids are unselfish when it comes to making the team better. Many sacrifices have been made over the years and sometimes it’s the little things that make the greater difference.”

Watch this site for the published rankings, which will be posted soon.

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