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Articles from February 2018

Read-a-Thon Celebration

In January, elementary schools across the District organized read-a-thon events in collaboration with their PTOs. “The goal is to get students to develop a passion for reading by specifically targeting time for reading outside of the classroom,” said Sue Lawler, principal at Sawyer Elementary.

A kick-off evening event often started the two- week book push in most schools. Sawyer Elementary invited parents to attend a family reading night themed “reading under the big top,” while Mitchell Elementary hosted a “book tasting” evening with parents. Once it began, families kept track of minutes read outside of the classroom and students received an incentive every time they read for those minutes.

The momentum continued throughout the read-a-thon to encourage students to read. Students at Mitchell Elementary made a fun video titled “Wild About Reading” to promote reading where students wore masks they made in class. The culimating read-a-thon event celebrated student reading. Students were cheered and given high fives as they filed into their gymnasiums for an assembly. At Sawyer Elementary, the guests of honor were Smyles from the Ames Public Library, and Cy from Iowa State University.

“We had an overwhelming majority of our students participate this year, and our total minutes continues to grow each year. Next year we want to look for more opportunities to get the kids excited about reading!” said Lawler.

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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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Boys Swim Team Wins First State Title Since 1982

Boys Swim State Champions

In his 20th year of coaching, Dan Flannery finally got the state title that has eluded him. The Ames High boys swim team won the 2018 State Championship, their first since 1982.

The Little Cyclones were ranked #1 in the state for much of the year and went through the regular season undefeated before losing at the District meet to Ankeny. Going to state is nothing new for this senior heavy team; they’ve been there the last 4 years. But going in with a legitimate chance to take the title is new, and something this team has spent their high school career working toward.

This was the first year that the University of Iowa has hosted the Iowa High School Athletic Association Boys State Swimming Meet at their new pool. This year the meet was held on February 10. Throughout the season, the boys team took on the motto “swim like it’s 1982.” With former Hall of Fame and Ames High coach Mike Wittmer, who led the 1982 Little Cyclones to a state title in attendance, they did just that.

The meet got off to the start that Ames needed. The 200 Yard Medley Relay team of seniors Dalton Lillibridge, Misho Mahrous, Nick Matthews, and junior Ethan Johnson, set a new school record of 1:33.83 as they won the state title in the event. The winning time is currently under All-American Consideration. It got the Little Cyclones out to an early lead, but after the second event, Ames fell behind West Des Moines Valley for much of the meet.

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Ames High Career Fair

It had been nearly 15 years since the last time that Ames High hosted a career fair for students. That changed on February 6, 2018 when all ninth grade students were able to explore a variety of career pathways from more than 25 different businesses in Ames.

Ames High Business Teacher Vicki Hales led the organization of the career fair, but each department was represented as a part of the planning committee. The career fair replaced the students’ regular class schedule and included booths that students could explore while a number of sessions were being led by community members in the classrooms. Those sessions discussed a range of topics that included the importance of developing the 21st Century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Others explained what soft skills employers seek in potential employees such as being on time, taking risks, continually improving, treating others respectfully, learning from mistakes, using appropriate technology to communicate, adapting to changing requirements, setting goals, taking initiative, and modeling global awareness.

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Superintendent Search Updates

Superintendent Search

We will update this page regularly with updates on the search for a new Superintendent. 

Final Two Candidates for Superintendent of Ames Schools

The Ames Community School Board spent the last two days interviewing candidates for the next Superintendent of Ames Schools. After careful consideration, two finalists have been selected from a total pool of 69 applicants to participate in a second round of interviews next week. Those interviews will include a variety of representative groups that include teachers, community leaders, former board members, parents, and District staff. Each applicant will also participate in a public forum held at the District Office at 5:15 p.m. on their respective interview day.

The School Board is pleased to announce the two finalists for Superintendent of Ames Schools:

Peggy Aune (Tuesday, April 17)

Margaret (Peggy) Aune is currently the Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Collier County Public Schools in Naples, Florida.

  • Ed. D., 2013, Educational Leadership, University of Florida

  • M.Ed., 2004, Educational Leadership, Florida Gulf Coast University

  • B.S., 2000, Special Education, Florida Gulf Coast University

Jenny Risner (Wednesday, April 18)

Jenny Risner is currently the Superintendent of Ocean Beach School District in Ocean Beach, Washington.

  • Superintendents Credentials, 2013, Washington State University

  • MA, 2001, Educational Administration, Washington State University

  • BA, 1996, Elementary Education/English, Saint Martin’s University




January 17 – the board voted to hire Ray & Associates as the search firm that will lead the board in the Superintendent search.

February will be spent with the search firm meeting with various focus groups — including teachers, students, parents, support staff and building administration to establish preferred criteria when considering candidates.

February 8 – public forum on Superintendent search. 5:00 p.m. at District Office.

February 16 – Ray & Associates approve Superintendent profile

March 19 – deadline for submitting application materials for the position

April 4 – selection of candidates

April 11-13 – first round of candidate interviews with school board

April 17-18 – Superintendent finalist interviews

April 18-19 – Superintendent selection


Focus Groups:

With the closing of our application period last week, the next phase of the superintendent search is currently underway.  Our consulting company is in the process of vetting these candidates for the board.  On April 4th the board will meet to review the top 8-12 candidates and select 5-6 to move on to our first round of interviews, April 11-12.  Following these meetings we will select two finalists for interviews with our focus groups (April 17-18).  

Superintendent Search Flyer



(Note: the survey is no longer open). Based on their experience, Ray & Associates has identified 30 criteria of effective school leaders. Click here to access a survey, and select up to 10 criteria most important to you. There is also an open-ended question for you to identify those things candidates should know about our district and community. The survey will close on Sunday, February 11 at 8:00 a.m. 

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Fresh Thyme Launches Roundup Fundraiser to Address Food Insecurity Among Ames Students

Fresh Thyme Graphic

Customers’ roundup dollars from Feb. 7–28 and $2,500 Fresh Thyme donation will pay students’ negative lunch balances

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market believes no student should go without a meal. That’s why the full-service specialty retailer announced today the “No Student Goes Without Lunch” fundraising campaign at its new Ames store. All customer donations from the campaign — as well as a $2,500 donation from Fresh Thyme — will go to the Ames Community School District to pay students’ negative lunch balances.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, Ames students’ negative lunch account balances totaled $47,932.42. Last year, the school district grappled with how to address this issue. In June, the Ames School Board amended a policy so that today all students receive lunch regardless of their negative account balance. However, with this action, the district still must find ways to settle students’ outstanding balances.

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