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Articles in Ames Middle School

Super Summer Program

Super Summer Program

The ACSD Super Summer Program is a two-week summer school for students who are entering 1st-8th, to take interest oriented classes to further their passion in those areas. This year, Super Summer offered 30 different courses not accessible in the regular school curriculum to give students an opportunity to study a subject in-depth.

Extended Learning Program Director Nicole Kuhns, said, “The goal is really just to provide classes to stretch our students’ minds during the summer break.” Super Summer has been around in some form for over 25 years. This year, over 250 students registered for classes that included a variety of topics. Kuhns said, “We saw many teachers proposing new classes and reinventing old classes. There was literally something for everyone from students interested in STEM, art, performance, sports, business, and crafting, there was to meet their needs. Many teachers focused on bringing a cultural lens into their classes and helping students learn more about the way others live. Our students left excited each day about all they had learned, which is really all we could ask for!”

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Anthology: A Students’ Voice 2018

Anthology Project

On the morning of May 9, middle school editors got to see for the first time their self-published anthology after months of work putting it together. The book is a collection of stories and poems all written and edited by middle school students.

The project started in November when 8th graders Preksha Sarda and Claudia Murphy began recruiting writers and editors for the project. This is the second year that Steph Schares, who is an Extended Learning Program teacher at Ames Middle School and staff liaison to the anthology project, has helped students produce the anthology. Sarda and Murphy took applications from fellow students for positions of editors, marketers, and also managed the communications with students. They also paired each writer with an editor early in the process to provide a collaborative and authentic approach to the writing process.

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Science Olympiad State Competition

Science Olympiad

The Science Olympiad is a competition where students work in partnerships competing in different disciplines in science that include chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and general science knowledge events. High school and middle school students competed at the state competition on Saturday, April 7th at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Historically, to say that Ames has dominated the State Science Olympiad would be an understatement. The Science Olympiad is like a track meet for science where a team of 15 students compete in 23 events with usually 2-3 students in each event. The more 1st places finishes the better, and the team with the lowest score wins. This year, 16 teams competed at state in the high school level and 18 at the middle school level.

Ames Middle School has been competing for the past 26 years and has won state 23 years. Ames High has been competing for 25 years and has won 24 times. Their only loss came last year and this year’s team was hungry to reverse that outcome.

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National History Day competitors moving on to state!

 
National History Day Graphic
 
Twenty-six Ames students competed at the Historic Highways Regional History Day competition today. The competition judges students based on original research they have conducted around the 2018 theme: Conflict and Compromise.
 
The students are ranked on their ability to find and creatively present primary source information; they may present their research as a film documentary, website, exhibit, research paper, or performance. Students who are ranked top 2 in each category progress to the state competition in Des Moines on Monday, April 30.

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Mathcounts Middle School State Tournament

AMS Mathcounts Team

On Thursday, March 23, six students from Ames Middle School competed in the state Mathcounts tournament held at DMACC.

In the overall team competition, the Ames Middle School team of Ne Dassanayake, Rishabh Swamy, Suya Que and Caleb Sheldon finished in 3rd place.

Individually, Ne and Rishabh finished in the top 10, with Ne winning the Iowa State Championship. Ne will be part of the state of Iowa team that will compete at the national competition in May in Washington D.C.. Suya Que and Jixiang Li also finished in the top 25% of individuals. Adil Orysapayev represented Ames as an alternate, and the co-sponsors were Robert Alden and Lauren Booten.

Please congratulate these students on an outstanding day. They have worked very hard this year and their efforts payed off. Well Done!

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Earthquake Science Challenge

Students in Mrs. Andrews’ sixth-grade science class have been analyzing and interpreting data on earthquakes in order to forecast future events. As an extension to this area of study, students have learned about the development of technologies to mitigate the effects of earthquakes on structures.

They designed “skyscrapers’ following specified criteria using a variety of materials. Students also had to work around certain constraints and varying budgets in order to incorporate base-isolators, cross-bracing, footprint size, tapered geometry, and the occasional pendulum.

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#FOOD4FRIENDS AMS Food Pantry Drive

AMS Food Pantry Drive

The Ames Middle School Cyclone Leadership Council (CLC) organized a food drive where all of the donations went directly toward filling the middle school food pantry. Homeroom teachers collected food on two days, October 31 and November 7, and students were able to dress up during those days. Lisa Kirsch, a staff organizer of the event, said, “Our goal is to restock the AMS Food Pantry for students in need while allowing our students to contribute to this worthy cause and have fun dressing up with fellow students.”

The initial goal set by the CLC envisioned success if each homeroom could bring at least 10 items for the food pantry. At the end of the two day drive, 2,250 food items were collected among the homerooms in grades 6-8, far exceeding expectations. The initiative of students and generosity of the families at the middle school made storing the food the most challenging part of the drive.

Although coordinated by AMS student leaders, along with Lisa Kirsch and Sara Knutson who serve as CLC co-chairs, the drive was a schoolwide effort. Students brought this drive home, families supported it, and homeroom teachers coordinated with their students to collect the food items. The food goes home with students in need for their families each weekend, and this drive directly impacted middle school families.

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An Emphasis on Attendance

Attendance Graphic

Student attendance is an important predictor of success in the classroom. Only through attendance and class participation do students achieve the benefits of our education program within the Ames Community School District. Learning lost due to an absence can have a profound effect throughout the school year, and we are placing a greater emphasis on communicating absences with parents this school year.

Our previous attendance policy stated that communications would be sent home after 10 absences. The board supported a proactive approach to addressing chronic absenteeism and on August 21, revised the attendance policy to the following:

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New Chromebooks Support 1:1 Computer Initiative

Acer Chromebook

Shipments of new Acer Chromebooks started pouring into the District Office at the end of July, continuing the Ames Community School District’s commitment to its 1:1 computer initiative that began in 2013. The goals of the initiative are wide ranging, and has a huge impact no students within the classroom and beyond. Students learn 21st Century skills, are able to create and collaborate using digital tools, and teachers are able to personalized learning centered around the individual needs of their students.

One of the most significant aspects of the 1:1 initiative is that eliminates the digital divide by putting a computer in every student’s hands. Technology Director, Karl Hehr, has led the 1:1 initiative and sees it as a game changer in the Ames School District. “We can put a device in every student’s hands, regardless of their background, and give them access to learning beyond the classroom. They are then able to explore passions on their own, and this has created areas where students can become lifelong learners.”

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Middle School Principal Dan Fox

AMS Principal Dan Fox

On June 5, the School Board accepted the appointment of Dan Fox as the new Principal of the Ames Middle School. His career began in the Saydel School District where he taught 6th and 8th grade mathematics, but he has ties to the Ames community, having earned both his undergraduate degree in elementary education, and his Masters degree in Educational Administration from Iowa State University.

His first administrative position was in Burnside, Iowa, at the middle school in the Southeast Valley School District, just south of Fort Dodge. “Middle school is a passion of mine. They are not elementary students any more, but they are not ready to be treated like high school students either. They still need guidance and help figuring out situations, and I love that about them.”

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