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Articles from February 2016

Ames High School hosts Iowa Supreme Court

Ames High School will host the Iowa Supreme Court, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 2. The Court will present oral arguments on a criminal case in a session open to the public that will take place in the Ames High School Auditorium, 1921 Ames High Dr.

The evening session is part of an outreach effort to give the “public a first-hand look into how the legal system works at the state level,” Iowa Supreme Court Communications Director Steve Davis told The Ames Tribune.

“Right now, the Supreme Court traditionally hears oral arguments during the day at 9 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon, which is really not that convenient for people that might be curious, but are working or have other responsibilities,” Davis said in an article published by The Ames Tribune.

The oral arguments pertain to case no. 14-1112,  State of Iowa v. Kenneth Osborne Ary, from Polk County District Court. The State seeks further review after the court of appeals reversed and remanded appellant’s drug-delivery convictions based on alleged error in the jury selection process. The State contends that existing case law that Iowa should follow does not allow a presumption that an entire jury panel has become biased based on the comments of one prospective juror—in this case a pastor who explained his experience with drug dealers and criminal defendants.

A public reception with the supreme court justices will follow the oral arguments in the Ames High School media center. The reception is sponsored by the Story County Bar Association.

Justice Ed Mansfield will return to Ames High School to present to combined Ames High School Government classes in the Auditorium, Thursday, March 3, during second and third periods.

Attorneys’ briefs for the cases and a guide to oral arguments are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.


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Board approves two-year calendar

The Ames Community School Board approved calendars for 2016-17 and 2017-18 at its meeting, Monday, Feb. 22.

Students in Grades 1 -12 will start school Aug. 24 for both years. Barring unforeseen circumstances, such as weather make-up days, students will finish classes June 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.

Superintendent Tim Taylor and Board members said the state requirement to start school no earlier than the week of Aug. 23 prevented them from creating a calendar that starts classes early enough to complete the first semester and its projects and final exams before winter break.

Dr. Taylor said, within the constraints of state requirements, the most important considerations in calendar planning are providing 180 days of student instruction encompassing 1,140 hours, providing teacher workdays, professional development days, and recess days; and coordinating with the Iowa State University calendar for winter and spring breaks.


Ending 2016 school year and beginning 2016-17 school year

2016-17 school year

Key dates for 2016-17 Calendar

  • Aug. 24, first day of school for Grades 1-12
  • Aug. 29, first day of school for kindergarten
  • Dec. 22 – Jan. 3, Winter Break
  • Jan. 12, end of semester
  • March 13 – 17, Spring Break
  • June 1, End of fourth quarter

Key dates for 2017-18 Calendar

  • Aug. 24, first day of school for Grades 1-12
  • Aug. 28, first day of school for kindergarten
  • Dec. 22 – Jan. 2, Winter Break
  • Jan. 11, end of semester
  • March 12 – 16, Spring Break
  • May 31, End of fourth quarter
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Ames High School Symphonic Band  hosts Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra for joint concert

AMES– The Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra will join Ames High School’s Symphonic Band for a free concert, 7 p.m., Friday February 26.

Band director Chris Ewan said the joint concert is a “great opportunity for our students to see what is possible after their high school music career.”

The Symphonic Band will play first,  performing “Dusk” by Steven Bryant, under the direction of Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra Conductor James Patrick Miller.

Ewan said there are approximately 70 students in the Symphonic Band, selected for their skill, based on auditions each fall.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra joins a list of other college bands Ames High School has hosted in the past that includes Concordia College, Drake University, Western Illinois, and Northwestern College (Orange City). The Wind Orchestra, in Ames to perform at the College Band Directors National Association Conference at Iowa State University, will also present a short version of its concert for the Ames High School music department and other interested students and staff, during the Plus Period,  1-1:40 p.m.,  Friday, Feb. 26.
Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra tour schedule. 


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Students give thumbs up to project based learning

AMES–Seventh grade students at Ames Middle School are extolling the benefits of project-based learning.

“You feel smarter finding facts on your own,” Kate MacLeod, age 12, said. “Seeing the final project makes me so proud, like, “‘Wow I did that!’”

Social studies teacher Caleb Shaeffer said project-based learning is a lesson-planning strategy that allows instructors to align their planning and teaching with Iowa Core Standards.

“This lesson addressed a behavioral science standard, for students to understand a social issue, learn how people formulate opinions about this issue, and learn how people respond to the issue,” Shaeffer said.  “We chose to focus on the issue of poverty on our planet.”

Breanna Van Dyke, age 13, said Shaeffer encouraged students to choose an aspect of poverty to research, and offered guidelines to help narrow their focus, such as picking a specific place or age group.

“I liked that he said we could choose what we wanted to learn about,” she said.

Kate said the project’s requirements included researching facts and opinions, developing an original and creative display, and creating a call to action— but Shaeffer waited until students had their subject matter in hand before sharing the project evaluation rubric.

“That way, we wouldn’t do just the minimum to meet the rubric, and we would use the rubric as something to strive for,” she said.

The project also required students to hone 21st Century skills such as writing resumes, creative thinking, and collaboration.

“The resumes helped the teachers pick group leaders and helped the group leaders choose their groups,” NIcole Hammen, age 12,  said.

Kate said the group process had built-in leverage to prevent some group members from slacking off while others worked harder to compensate.

“Every person in the group has to be able to demonstrate understanding of the issue and what’s being done to solve it,” she said.

NIcole said project-based learning is helping her retain knowledge.

“When we were just reading and answering questions, you wouldn’t remember the information,” she said.

Kate said she expects the project-based learning to help her develop lasting new skills.

“I think learning like this will help us get better, because our teacher can critique us and not just give us a test that doesn’t make us better than before,” she said.

About the projects

Students’ projects have been on display at North Grand Mall.

Kate’s group, for example, focused on homeless teens in the United States. To help people visualize the issue, Kate’s group created a diorama of an abandoned building inscribed with facts and figures. They placed one pin on a board per 5,000 homeless teens, for a total of 260 pins representing the 1.3 million homeless teens on the streets and in abandoned buildings.

“Our group wanted to know how and why they become homeless,” she said. “We found out they drop out of school and become too old for services and they can’t get a job. There are a bunch of ways to help but not everything solves the problem.”

Nicole’s  group studied children’s poverty in Ames.

“We learned a third of children in our schools live in poverty,” she said.

Nicole said her group’s call to action was proposing free childcare and job training for parents of children in poverty.

“A lot of jobs take training and a lot of  people don’t have the skills and education,” she said. “They can’t afford the training. Everyone should be able to have the training.”


Breanna’s group researched a global poverty issue, children in Ethiopia. The group placed bowls of rice and containers of water on a table to show a comparison between the amount of food, specifically rice, and the quality of water available to people in Ethiopia and the people in the United States each week.


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