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Articles in Ames Middle School

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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Creating digital magazines brings nonfiction to life for sixth graders

Digitalmagcupcakes copy

Ames Middle School sixth grade students are ready with an answer in case anyone asks what they learned this year.

In their hands are printed versions of digital magazines the students researched, wrote, and designed for literacy class to show what they learned studying nonfiction text structures and writing processes throughout the year.

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the literacy team, as a professional Learning Community, created the magazine project so students could demonstrate understanding of sixth grade learning standards such as identifying the author’s purpose and the structure of a text. The students were expected to create two articles over a topic they chose, using a different text structure for each article.

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Ames Middle School Science Olympiad team takes first place at regional tournament

2017 combined science olympiad teams

Ames Middle School and Ames High School combined teams competed at a regional invitational Science Olympiad tournament in Warren Mo. the weekend of Feb. 4, 2017.

The Ames Middle School Science Olympiad team finished first place in the invitational tournament against 34 other middle school teams from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa on Feb. 4. The team will compete in the State Science Olympiad competition March 25 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

First place medals:

  • Seth Durbin and Emily Poag for Wright Stuff
  • Anyang Yu and Emily Poag for Crimebusters
  • Henry Tang, Eddie Wei , and Jerry Han for Experimental Design
  • Sophia Cordoba and Sivani Manimaran for Fast Facts
  • Seth Durbin and Michael Huang for Hovercraft

Third place medals:

  • Taylor Xu and Eddie Wei for Invasive Species
  • Seth Durbin and Jerry Han for Rocks and Minerals
  • Steven Tian and henry Tang for Towers

Fourth place ribbons:

  • Emily Poag and Steven Tian for Meteorology
  • Sivani Manimaran and Quinn Harbison for Microbe Mission

Fifth place ribbons:

  • David Jiang and Quinn Harbison for Disease Detectives
  • Sophia Cordoba and Jixiang Li for Dynamic Planet
  • John Zheng and Taylor Xu for Reach for the Stars

Sixth place ribbons:

  • Sophia Cordoba and Henry Tang for Ecology
  • James Lin and Jerry Han for Optics
  • Eddie Wei and Rishbh Swamy for Road Scholar
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Student leading effort to collect coins for Blank Children’s Hospital

Img 3447

UPDATE: Students raised $2,806.59 by collecting coins in homeroom between December 6 and December 16.

Raising $10,000 for Blank Children’s Hospital on her own got 11-year-old Grace McCunn thinking about what the experience taught her.

“I learned a dollar helps more than you think, and every little bit really does help,” she said. McCunn said she also learned that most people want to help if they know an actual need exists.

Now the sixth grade student at Ames Middle School hopes to get her peers involved so they can learn, too.

McCunn said when she was a patient at Blank Children’s Hospital, she discovered the need for books, games and toys for children her age.

“The variety of things available was limited, and they were more for much younger children,” she said.

Over the past couple of years, Grace has sold hot chocolate in winter and lemonade in summer, catching the attention of adults who sponsored her efforts with sizable sums to donate to the cause.

Although McCunn was told that a $10,000 donation is enough to get her name on a plaque at the hospital, she hopes to raise at least $2,000 more.

“I want so see how much students can raise just by collecting coins in homeroom,” she said.

Students at Ames Middle School are collecting coins in homeroom December 5 through 16.

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Mock Trial Black Team third in state

Ahs mock trial black 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team reaches third in state

Ahs mock trial black 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Author’s life lessons resonate with Ames Middle School students

AMES–Children’s author Ben Mikaelsen has a passion for helping young people break free of labels and discover their own special genius. He brought  his message to Ames Middle School students, Monday, April 11.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, South America, Mikaelsen is one of six children born to strict fundamental missionaries he says always had time for their religious meetings, devotions, services and work, but seldom spent time with their children. He began writing as a way to escape the not-so-good things happening in his life—like reverse racism and revolutions in Bolivia  and bullying when he moved with his family to Minnesota.

Sixth grade students said Mikaelsen gave voice to issues that are on their minds.

“I learned that by being different shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they love to do,” Ben McHenry said.

Anatasia Olson said she appreciated Mikaelson’s encouragement to “fight against bullying.”

“People don’t realize it’s still a school problem,”  she said.

Mikaelsen says his goal is to help students discover their own potential. Samantha Chriswisser said the author inspired her confidence in her own potential.

“I thought if I worked hard I could achieve my dreams,” she said. “I learned from Ben that I also need to believe in myself.”

Jason Vernon said, “He taught me dreams aren’t just fantasy.”

“Students can discover the same lessons that I learned,” Mikaelsen says on his website. “They are authors also, not just of words on some written page, but of reality. We are all the authors of our lives.”

Mikaelsen

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the goal for the author visit was simple.

“Get students engaged and in love with reading again,” he said. “Once the students heard the author of our book was coming, they couldn’t finish it fast enough.”

DeJong recited the question that guides his teaching.

“What do I want my students to remember about my classroom 10 years from now? I hope this experience was one of those things!”

If Kaylie Davis’s response to Mikaelsen’s presentation is any indication, DeJong’s goal was met. Kylie said she was most impressed with the storytelling that inspires Mikaelsen’s novels. “He talked about when he came to America, children would tease him because he didn’t know American football was different from football in his country. He asked the Americans “What do you do? Eat spaghetti with your ears?”

Mikaelsen’s novels have won many state Reader’s Choice awards, have been carried by Scholastic and Troll book fairs, and are recorded as unabridged audio books. His novels include “Rescue Josh McGuire”, “Sparrow Hawk Red”, “Stranded”, “Countdown”, “Petey”, “Touching Spirit Bear”, “Red Midnight”, “Tree Girl” and “Ghost of Spirit Bear”.

Mikaelson’s visit was sponsored by the Ames Education Foundation.

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Middle School students will receive schedules on first day of school

Ames Middle School students and their primary guardian will receive emails during the week of August 10 listing their homeroom teacher assignments.  Students will receive a paper copy of their class schedule in homeroom on the first day of school, Monday, August 24. At that time, homeroom teachers will go over the schedules with the students, noting locations and answering questions in small groups.

Providing students’ schedules on the first day of school improves their accuracy and allows Ames Middle School administration to show environmental responsibility along with the District’s paperless registration process. Due to late registrations and the need to balance class sizes and composition, we found early schedules were simply inaccurate. They typically required posting and printing for students up to five times each in the days immediately prior to and after the beginning of school.

Students requesting specific courses which they haven’t taken previously (i.e. Accelerated Literacy 8 or Orchestra) will be sent a separate email the week of August 10 with an update on their status in those requested courses.

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