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Articles from September 2015

You’re invited to a Ribbon Cutting at Mitchell Elementary School

Ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 6 offers an open house and guided tours for the public to celebrate the building’s renovation.

AMES–Mitchell Elementary School will celebrate the official opening of its fully renovated building with a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6. Mitchell’s celebration marks the completion of the first of two elementary school buildings targeted for remodeling as part of a facilities plan funded by a $55 million bond referendum in 2012.

Mitchell Principal Justin Jeffs said the ribbon cutting will give students, families and community members a sense of the accomplishment the new building represents.

“This updated building  is a tangible representation of the community’s commitment to education, ” Jeffs said. “It provides the space and features we need for learning to thrive.”

Following the ribbon cutting, Parent Teacher Association members and Family Ambassadors will provide guided tours for families and community members. Staff and district administrators will explain how the building’s features support education strategies and enhance safety and security.

Mitchell Elementary School is located at 3521 Jewell Dr.  in Ames.More about the elementary school facilities plan:

  • Sawyer Elementary School, also undergoing renovation, is slated to open August 2016.
  • Fellows Elementary School, which is being rebuilt on its current campus, is also slated to open August 2016.
  • Edwards Elementary School, rebuilt at 820 Miller Avenue, opened August 2014.
  • Meeker Elementary School, rebuilt at 300 20th St., opened August 2015 and will hold a ribbon cutting Tuesday, Oct. 20.


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Teacher from Tanzania learns from Ames students

Willbald Mvungi, who teaches computer science and mathematics at a high school in Arusha, Tanzania, visited Teresa Green’s Media classes at Edwards Elementary School, Tuesday, Sept. 15, and observed as students learned coding skills.

“I’m amazed that students in elementary school are learning to code,” Mvungi said. “In Tanzania, students must wait until they start college to learn such skills.”

Mvungi said teacher training and funding for resources are improving in Tanzania, however.

“There is a lot of motivation to give our children the skills and tools they need in math, science and technology,” he said.

Organizations like Opportunity Education Foundation, for example help raise funds to provide Tanzanian students with computers, Mvungi said.

Bethesda Lutheran Church sponsored Mvungi’s visit to Ames.



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September is Attendance Awareness Month

During the month of September, schools, communities and advocates for children across the nation are making a united effort through Attendance Awareness Month to reduce the 135 million school days students miss each year.

Fellows Principal Carol Page said student attendance is important to keep classrooms on track with their learning goals.

“Each day in the classroom builds on the previous, and chronic absences disrupt the learning process for everyone,” Page said.

Studies show that students who are more often absent beginning as early as first grade are the ones who eventually drop out of school. The pattern of absenteeism often increases throughout a student’s school career. In Ames, our schools focus on building healthy habits of school attendance. We play a major role in how students feel about attending school to create what experts call school connectedness. School connectedness refers students’ perception that adults in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals.

Riley Drake, a School and Family Counselor at Camp Sawyer Elementary School, said all Ames school and family counselors advocate for improved school attendance throughout the year.

“They keep track of students who begin to miss a number of school days, and depending on the situation and their knowledge of and relationship with the student and family, they may use a variety of interventions,” she said.

Some schools use small groups as a way to encourage school attendance by allowing students to motivate one another and celebrate attendance successes, Drake said.

“Counselors teach students skills to manage their time and how to use an alarm clock. They also may connect students with a mentor or collaborate with their teacher to find a way to showcase their strengths during instruction and  increase academic engagement.”

Other interventions include school wide attendance awareness and classroom counseling lessons that help students understand how attendance is related to academic achievement, Drake said.

Drake said, “Above all else, our work with the student centers on creating trusting relationships among the student, teachers, staff, administrators, and families. When the student and family trust in us, we can make school connections to last a lifetime.”

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Leadership Ames class presents Buddy Bench to Edwards School

Edwards Elementary School students have a new Buddy Bench on their playground, thanks to a community project completed by Leadership Ames- Class XXVIII and presented in a ribbon cutting Thursday, Aug. 27.


Class member Justin Moorman he got the idea for the Buddy Bench from Sawyer Elementary School, which rolled out Benches during the 2013-14 school year.

The Edwards Buddy Bench, made of green metal, faces east at the edge of the playground.

Edwards Principal David Peterson says the Buddy Bench contributes to the school’s goals for students to plan, think critically and develop social-emotional skills.

“The Buddy Bench allows students to think and plan what to play at recess and to invite each other to play,” Peterson said. “That’s what leadership is about. Including others.”

Peterson outlined the steps for using the Buddy Bench.

  • Use your words first to find a playmate before using the Buddy Bench.
  • Look around and decide what to do at recess.
  • See if you can join in a group or activity. If you find something, move from the buddy bench.
  • If you see a friend you’d like to invite to play, get off the bench and invite them.
  • If you see someone on the buddy bench, invite them to play.

The Leadership Ames – Class XXVIII members who contributed to the Buddy Bench project are Nick Hoffman, Justin Moorman, Seana Perkins, and Angie Strotman.


buddy bench

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Please vote in the School Election, Sept. 8

Five candidates are vying for four Ames School Board seats:


  • Board President Luke Deardorff
  • Director Rodney Briggs

New candidates

  • Nathan Buss
  • Alisa Frandsen
  • Lewis Rosser

 Here are some reasons your vote matters:

  • Your vote counts directly toward the School Election outcome.
  • Voter turnout is critical to ensure balanced representation for the entire community.
  • A portion of your property taxes goes to school funding, so even if you don’t have students in the district, you have a stake in the School Board’s decisions. Student success has a large impact on the current and future quality of life in your community.
  • The School Board assures the Ames Community School District is in compliance with matters required by law, and hires, supervises and evaluates the Superintendent. The Board is responsible for high-level planning, policy-making and systemic evaluation of the district.

Voting Centers and hours

(1) Harvest Vineyard Church, 1627 S. High Ave.

(2) University Baptist Church, 2400 Mortensen Parkway

(3) Ames Public Library Auditorium, 515 Douglas Ave.

(4) Heartland Baptist Church, 3504 Grand Ave.

(5) Bethesda Lutheran Church, 1517 Northwestern Ave.

(6) Ascension Lutheran Church, 2400 Bloomington Road

(7) Collegiate United Methodist Church, 2622 Lincoln Way

(8) Trinity Christian Reformed Church, 3626 Ontario Street

For more information, visit the Story County School Elections website.

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