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Articles from December 2015

Blanket drive helps Edwards students learn about giving

Second grade students at Edwards Elementary School collected 53 new and gently used blankets to help keep Ames citizens warm this winter.

Teacher Terri Boeding said the project, now in its second year, helps students learn the value of giving to others.

“We want students to learn to be compassionate and to care for people in need,” she said.

Boeding said since classrooms are full of students from all backgrounds who celebrate various holidays, teachers and students looked for a way to promote generosity while still being sensitive to a differing customs and beliefs.

“A basic human need of keeping warm during cold weather led us to this cause,” she said.

Teachers also wanted to respect the wide range of students’ families’ financial situations, Boeding said.

“So we welcomed new or used blankets,” she said. “Many students brought in clean comforters, baby blankets or throws from home, while others purchased new ones”.image002

Students say the blanket drive gave their families a chance to work together in the spirit of giving.

Brayden Crosser, for example, said he helped his grandmother make a blanket for the project.

“I wanted to make a blanket to give to the homeless people of Ames and do a project with my grandma,” he said.

Ian Helgersen said when he told his family about the blanket drive and how he wanted to help people who didn’t have warm homes, his family responded generously.

“I went to Target with my family and we bought three blankets,” he said.

Sophia Kyveryga said, “I told my mom that I wanted to get a blanket to give to the homeless people of Ames.  We bought one from TJ Max.”

Sophia’s mother, Natalia Rogovska, was so grateful, she sent an email to Boeding thanking her for “teaching our kids to be compassionate.”

Edwards second grade teachers are Boeding, Kelly Hansen and Heather Werner.

Boeding said the blankets were delivered to Youth and Shelter Services.

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Ames Middle School teams are Quiz Bowl State Champs

Ames Middle School seventh and eighth grade Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl Teams both placed first in the statewide contest, Friday, Nov. 20.

Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl is an online contest of information commonly covered in the middle school curriculum, along with trivia about sports, music, and current events. It is a timed group test, so students must be able to share information quickly and correctly.

The seventh grade team bested 26 other teams, earning a score of 1,191 to edge out the second place team, West Des Moines, by more than 60 points.

Representing the seventh grade: Rob Arbuckle. Ellie Barry, Ella Chopski, Ian Coffman, Caius Danley, Emma Dorhaut, Arunadee Fernando, Nao Furukawa, Kaleb Glover, Brandon Harold, David Jiang, Eliot Jurgensen, Ha Nguyen, Zeynep Oghan, Aria Pilcher, and Eddie Wei.

7th grade quizbowl

Seventh Grade Quiz Bowl team. Seated-L to R: Arunadee Fernando, Emma Dorhout, Ian Coffman, Kaleb Glover, David Jiang, Nao Furukawa, Eddie Wei. Back row-L to R: Aria Pilcher, Ella Chopskie, Caius Danley, Rob Arbuckle, , Zeynep Oghan, Eliot Jurgensen, Ha Nguyen, Brandon Harold, Ellie Barry

The eighth grade team competed among 42 teams from across the state to earn 1,284  out of 1,500 possible points, taking first place with 100 points more than the second place team.

Representing the eighth grade: Jinal Amin, Elizabeth Andrews, Silvia Ayndinyan, Lara Baker, Rianna Bloom, Kendra Caulfield, Jason Chen, Oliver Chen, Shria Chug, Andres Cordoba, Nathan Essner, Nitzan Friedberg, Hannah Huang, Bjorn Iverson, Justin Kenny, David Kim, Susanna Mkhitaryan, Mitchell Oh, Will Orth, Sayre Satterwhite, Simeon Steward and Joshua Webb.

eighth grade quiz bowl

Eighth grade team. Seated-L to R: Kendra Caulfield, Rianna Bloom, Hannah Huang, Susannah Mkhitaryan, Silvia Ayndinyan, Elizabeth Andrews, Lara Baker Standing L to R:Bjorn Iverson, Mitchell Oh, Oliver Chen, David Kim, Will Orth, Justin Kenny, Simeon Steward, Nathan Essner. Not Pictured: Jinal Amin, Shria CHug, Nitzan Friedberg, Sayre Satterwhite, Joshua Webb

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Ames Middle School Mock Trial team is regional champion

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team One won first place in the regional competition held November 5 in Mason City.

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.


Congratulations to Hannah Huang, Justin Kenny, Nitzan Friedberg, Silvia Aydinyan, Tessa Huff, Maddie Shelton, Gemma Kreider, Amy Guan and Josie Dorius.


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Camp Sawyer Girls STEM group in the news

Every Thursday, most of the fifth-grade girls at Camp Sawyer Elementary School stay after school. They gather as part of new program started by three teachers to empower more girls to consider pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields.

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Lauren Powers, L and Lillie Kennedy, prepare to create an exothermic reaction at Camp Sawyer girls STEM group, Thursday, Nov. 19

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Kent Jahn receives “Teacher of Excellence” Award


Ames High School teacher Kent Jahn is the Iowa Industrial Technology Educators Association’s “Teacher of Excellence” for 2015. The Association presented the award, which goes to one Iowa high school industrial technology teacher each year, at the state Career and Applied Technology Conference, Oct. 30.

Jahn, who has been teaching Industrial Technology for 33 years with 18 of those years at Ames High School, says he has taught everything from Building and Trades to Computer Applications and Entrepreneurialism.

Jahn says over the course of his career he’s learned to adapt instruction to meet students at their level.

“I have students of high ability in the same class as those with low ability. Every student can benefit from being in Industrial Technology,” he said.  “I don’t want the low ability students to get behind and stressed out or fail nor do I want the high ability student to be held back. What I try to do is provide a basic outline of instruction to the point where I can get them started and then make myself available to provide instruction and personal guidance where it is needed.”

In Industrial Technology, students learn to problem solve and persevere, Jahn said.

“It’s an important life skill to develop the willingness to try and retry and then try again and realize that it is OK and that it is a part of learning,” he said..

Jahn says the value of Industrial Technology goes well beyond learning to use CAD software and honing woodworking skills.

“These students are learning that they do have abilities and they can do things that they never thought they could do,” he said. “They develop confidence and take pride in doing a job well and when they take a complex drawing or a finished wood project home and show it off to their family, there is a real sense of accomplishment and that feeling of ‘look what I did’”.

Jahn says he’s still learning, too.

“When there are so many things that are changing with technology and improvements of machines, it is really hard, if not impossible, for someone to learn everything,” he said. “So many of the things that I do with my classes I have had to learn along the way. I learn as much as the students do and sometimes I am learning from them.”

Above all, Jahn says his belief that each of his students is special has kept him in his profession and motivated him to keep improving as a teacher.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said.  “There are a lot of things that make teachers think about leaving the teaching profession but none of them have anything to do with the students. The students are what make teaching worthwhile and they keep all of us coming back.”

Editors note: This marks the second consecutive year an Ames High School Industrial Technology teacher has won this award. Craig Boylan was  the 2014 “Teacher of Excellence.”

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Fellows students talk to a diplomat

AMES–Cultivating relationships with foreign countries is rewarding as well as complicated for government officials, fifth grade students and Fellows Elementary School learned this week. There’s a lot at stake when everything from, manners, rules, government systems and religions affect how people interact, conduct business and even become friends. That’s why most governments palce diplomats in foreign countries to help, students learned.

U.S. Embassy Consular Chief Jeffrey Osweiler visited Fellows School, Monday, Nov. 2. as part of The Secretary of State’s Hometown Diplomats Program. According to its website, the program’s mission is to “explain to America what we do and why it matters. We do this by tapping into our best resource: our people.”

The Hometown Diplomats Program helps the U.S. Department of State establish and maintain important relationships with individuals and local communities, its website says. Department employees like Osweiler volunteer their time during trips to their hometown to speak publicly with local organizations and students of all ages and educational backgrounds.

A 1990 graduate of Ames high School, Osweiler has a son and a daughter who are students at Fellows.

Osweiler spent several years in Madagascar along with his wife and children before recently being stationed in Tunisia, he said.

“My family is living in Ames now and this is the first time my children have attended school in the United States,” he said.

It’s safer for his family to be in Ames than in Tunisia, Osweiler said.

“I visit Ames often, especially when the children have days off from school and during holidays and breaks”.

DIPLOMATOsweiler learned that at least half of the students in the Fellows fifth grade had visited or lived in a foreign country.

Based on their diverse experiences, students directed questions to Osweiler about food, customs and currency in foreign countries like Madagascar.

One student asked why his relatives had to wait so long to obtain a visa to come to the United States, giving Osweiler a chance to explain various types of visas and reasons people might have for visiting or relocating to a foreign country.

“There are different types of visas for visitors, refugees and immigrants,” he said, explaining that his department does not manage visas.

Fifth grade teacher Cathy Miller said Osweiler’s presentation will hlep students gain a perspective for their study of government this year.


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Ames High School All-State musicians named

Ames High School musicians will make another record showing at the Iowa All-State Music Festival, November 20-21. After auditioning Saturday, Oct. 24, in Indianola, 22 band students, 11 orchestra students and four vocalists were accepted. Three band students are alternates.

Band director Andrew Buttermore said according to records dating back to 1973, this is the second consecutive year Ames High School Band has broken its All-State record.

“The students worked hard and they were rewarded with these results,” Buttermore said. “I’m proud to be their teacher.”

Buttermore said the students were competing against much larger schools.

Band director Chris Ewan said Ames High School appreciates the community’s support of the band and music programs.

Band All-State Accepted and Alternates:

Maya Chen – Flute (orchestra)

Maria Werner Anderson – 2nd  Flute

Yushi Hattori – 2nd Flute

Caleb Kong – 2nd Flute

Jonah DeGeest – Bassoon (orchestra)

Kevin Park  – Clarinet (orchestra)

Dagney Paskach – 1st  Clarinet

Emily Rehmann –  1st Clarinet

Benjamin Moats – 1st Clarinet

Ana DiSpirito – 2nd  Clarinet

Neta Friedberg – 2nd Clarinet

Braeden Weyhrich – 3rd  Clarinet

Hayden Pritchard – 3rd Clarinet

Claire Dupuis –  1st Alto Saxophone

Jessica Rehmann –Tenor Saxophone

Nathan Paskach –Trumpet (orchestra)

David Vigil – 1st  Cornet

Malkan Santiago – 2nd Cornet

David Tarte – 1st Horn

Isak Werner Anderson – 2nd Horn (orchestra)

Aaron Mann  – 2nd Trombone

Channing Che – 3rd Trombone

Eileen Murray – Flute – 1st Alternate

Tianxin Xu – Flute – 2nd Alternate

Cole Thompson – Trombone – 2nd Alternate

Orchestra All-State Accepted

Chloe Barry – Harp 2 Orchestra

Isabel McLeod – Harp 2 Band

Fox Henson – Cello

Grace Kim – Cello

Esther Lee – Violin I (four-year All-Stater)

Tiffany Loe – Violin I (four year All-Stater – Gilbert student)

Joanna Held – Violin I

Jana Kim – Violin I

Beau Henson – Violin I

Maddie Tuggle – Violin II

Olivia Wong – Violin II

Choir All-State Accepted:

Julie Michelle Manohar

Andrew Bryant

Thea Brenner

Hannah Hartmann

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Ames High School student raises money for cancer research

To develop a simple and elegant marketing plan for a nonprofit fundraiser, Ames High School senior DeVaughn Stringfellow might say “it’s all in the wrist.”

Business teacher Vicki Hales gave Stringfellow’s class an assignment to create a fundraiser that could take advantage of all the themes October has to offer—from Halloween, to Breast Cancer Awareness, to football…

“I started thinking of black and orange and pink and fall,” Stringfellow said. “It just seemed like too much. Then I just blurted out an idea to raise money for cancer awareness. Not just breast cancer, because cancer touches more than that.”

Stringfellow said he got the idea to design a wristband as simple way to convey the clear, compelling message, “Ames High Cancer Awareness.”

“And choosing the colors orange and black will never to out of style at Ames High School,” he said.

Developing a business plan to produce and sell the wristbands taught Stringfellow how to face and overcome the inevitable obstacles.

“I didn’t have any money to fund the project, and I had a goal to get the wristbands in time for the next football game,” he said. “I asked (business teacher) Rhonda Schmaltz what to do, and she recommended talking to Alpha Copies.”

Stringfellow said Alpha Copies was willing to help, but couldn’t produce the wristbands within the timeframe they were needed.

“That’s when Mr. Evans stepped up,” Stringfellow said.

Principal Spence Evans approved using some DECA activity funds to front Stringfellow’s project so he could order 300 wristbands online.

“I didn’t know if they would actually arrive in time for October 16 football game, so I couldn’t promote them in advance,” he said. “They got here just in time for the game, so I sent some emails out and got some of my classmates lined up to sell them at the game.”

Stringfellow said he got more than 30 email responses within two hours.

Estimating he’s sold 250 wristbands so far, Stringfellow said he’s already covered his start-up costs and netted more than $100.

“I’m asking $1, but some people are giving more and treating it as a donation,” he said. “And I have more orders left to fill.”

Stringfellow said he was surprised that high school students would be so enthusiastic in their support of a cancer research fundraiser.

“This experience has me thinking about what it would be like to work for a nonprofit,” he said. “I’ve been involved in mission trips and helping people through my church, Christ Community Church, but this helps me see more of the business side of it.”

Stringfellow said he’s still researching cancer centers to receive the funds.



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English teacher James Webb receives Distinguished Service Award

James Webb’s passion for giving back to his profession and his ability to teach students how to master words and ideas that can change the world have been noticed. Webb, an English teacher and Mentor Teacher at Ames High School, is the 2015 recipient of the Iowa Council of Teachers of English Distinguished Service Award.webb

Erin Miller, a Teacher on Special Assignment for Language Arts, Social Studies, Music, Counseling, said Webb has a vision for what good English teaching can and should look like.

“He is the master of teachable moments, using the world around him to elevate students to places they never know or never considered reaching,” she said.

Webb admits there was a time in his career when he was growing cynical and disillusioned.

“After a few years of teaching, I felt discouraged and isolated,” he said.

When a peer encouraged him to attend an Iowa Council of Teachers of English conference, Webb said he discovered he was part of a community.

“Teachers just like me were giving up their limited time and resources to gather and encourage one another and share what they had learned in their teaching journeys,” he said.

Webb said his involvement with ICTE has taught him that teachers have a responsibility, not just to students, but to each other.

“I have become passionate about raising up young teachers and spurring on the veterans like me who sometimes convince themselves that none of this matters,” he said. “It does matter. We matter. Teachers matter.”

Webb is a frequent presenter at ICTE, and served for several years on the executive board. He has moonlighted as a composition teacher at Des Moines Area Community College, and coordinated with Iowa State University professors in composition and the performing arts. At Ames High School, Webb’s work has focused on curriculum integration and alignment; on leadership roles in initiatives such as Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Support, and on identifying, developing and mentoring young teachers.

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PEP Rally showcases student leadership and spirit


Ames Middle School Spirit has never been stronger, judging from first pep rally of the 2015-16 school year—thanks to the student-led Cyclone Leadership Council, who scripted, organized and led the event, Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Faculty advisor Sara Knutson said the SLC’s Spirit Squad team created the initial idea for the Pep Rally.

“They helped to lead the other students who divided into groups to plan and perform the dance mob, introduce our building wide social contract for the year, introduce the fall sports teams, and hold the dance contest,” Knuston said.

Knutson said the council is made up of 32 student leaders from 6th-8th grade.

“These students applied and were chosen to help lead school wide activities, develop leadership teams and promote community within our school,” she said. “They are the leaders of teams such as the Environmental Team, Spirit Squad, Welcoming Committee and Lunch Leaders.”

Knutson said the Cyclone Leaders will be recruiting other students to participate in planning and implementing student roles and activities within Ames Middle School.

Co-presidents Anna Snyder and Cooper Downs lead the Cyclone Leadership Council.

View Cyclone Leadership Council roster

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