Middle School News
My transition to the Ames Community School District has been a wonderful experience and living in the Ames community has given me an opportunity to explore all the incredible things this community has to offer. Since my move late June, my calendar has been full of meetings with individual staff and board members, parents, community groups, and community and state leaders in an effort to better understand where we should focus our efforts. These meetings have opened my eyes to the pride that exists within; from the facility upgrades, student activities, staff development opportunities, to the passion and commitment from outstanding educators that serve our community. There is a deep desire from our staff and community to provide unique opportunities for our students.
Shortly after my arrival, I was able to spend some focused time with our administrative team discussing our “why” both individually as well as our district as a whole. One thing that became clear to me was their passion for students while encouraging and supporting every student’s journey. We also discussed areas that need attention in their buildings and at the district level. I can assure you, we all feel a sense of urgency and are committed to building a collaborative environment.
As we begin the year, there is work to be done and with that work will come change. Change takes courage and honesty. I can promise you that I will provide both. On this journey, I will need your support and willingness to embrace a new leadership style. I will be honest and transparent and you will begin to hear us grapple with some difficult topics at the board, district, and building levels. I will work to communicate and be transparent with our work, and together we will address the areas that need to be addressed. It is an exciting time for Ames Community School District and I am honored to be serving as your leader and thankful to call this my home.
Niche recently released their 2019 K-12 Rankings of the best schools in the country. For the sixth consecutive year, the Ames Community School District has been ranked as the #1 district in the State of Iowa, with Ames High School also receiving the #1 ranking for the fourth year in a row.
The Ames CSD earned this ranking through key factors such as strength of academics, quality of teachers, school resources, as well as student and parent reviews. The statistical data used in this ranking was obtained from the U.S. Department of Education and then analyzed by Niche’s team of data scientists to create the 2019 rankings.
The Niche 2019 K-12 Rankings are based on rigorous analysis of academics and student life data along with test scores, college data, and ratings collected from millions of Niche users. Their wide-ranging data allows them to provide a comprehensive suite of rankings across all school types.
Thank you to our students and staff for continuing to make the Ames Community School District the best in the state. We’re very proud of our long tradition of excellence, and we’re confident that the upcoming school year will continue that tradition.
Learn more about the methodology of the Niche rankings on their website.
Since the April bond referendum vote, OPN Architects has been busy in the “programming phase” of the high school project. They have been meeting with various stakeholders that include the school board, administrators, teachers, and students to provide input on common design features, and to offer a platform where these groups can weigh in on their wants and needs.
In May, a small group of administrators and board members who are a part of the steering committee traveled with OPN to visit seven high schools in Minnesota that were identified as having some unique features that would be incorporated in Ames. Director of Facilities and Maintenance Gerry Peters said, “We learned about how other schools and districts approached teaching and learning, as well as some of their experiences, during construction. In addition to experiencing the building layouts, spaces and features, the tour guides shared their challenges, likes, and dislikes about the construction result.” OPN received reactions from our group to the buildings size and layout, as well as feedback and observations. …
The Ames Community School Board is excited to announce Jenny Risner as the next Superintendent of the Ames Community School District. Jenny stood out of an applicant pool of 69 individuals from across the country after participating in two rounds of interviews with the school board and a variety of representative groups that included teachers, community leaders, former board members, parents, and District staff.
Ms. Risner currently serves as the Superintendent of Ocean Beach School District in Long Beach, Washington where she has been the superintendent for the past four years. Ms. Risner has been an educator for over 20 years and has served as a director of student services, director of special education, secondary principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, and elementary and middle school teacher. She received her superintendent credentials in 2013 from Washington State University, where she also received her MA in Education Administration in 2001. …
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. …
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!
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.
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.