Skip to content

Articles from April 2015

Ames Middle School students earn Third Place in National WordMasters Challenges


Kirsen Robertson, L, and Kelsey Helton, R, practice vocabulary and word logic relationships as part of their preparation for the WordMasters Challenge.


Kelsey Helton, a seventh grade student at Ames Middle School, is taking advantage of the WordMaster’s Challenge to hone skills she’ll need in high school and beyond.

“I know I’ll need to be ready to communicate clearly and explain what I’ve learned—especially for college placement tests,” she said.

Kelsey said her motives echo some of the reasons two teams of Ames Middle School students excelled at the WordMaster’s Challenge, placing third in the seventh grade and eighth grade categories for the national vocabulary competition involving more than 150,000 students.

The eighth grade team placed third among 58 other national schools in the most difficult Gold Division of the WordMaster’s Challenge. Lydia Grawe and Johanna Krier earned awards for their outstanding individual scores, placing them among the top 14 students nationally.

Lydia, an aspiring writer, said WordMasters has expanded her vocabulary and enhanced her understanding of the relationships between words.

“As a result, my reading and writing abilities have improved,” she said.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division of the WordMaster’s Challenge, the seventh grade team placed third among 109 seventh grade teams nationally. Seventh graders Justin Kenny and  Erik Nelson achieved outstanding individual scores, earning a spot among the top 34 students in the nation.

The WordMasters Challenge is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with words considerably beyond their grade level and to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships, Extended Learning Program teacher and WordMaster coach Jayne Staniforth said.

“Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think analytically and metaphorically,” she said.

Mitchell Oh, in seventh grade, said WordMasters is “provides extra challenge outside of the regular curriculum.”

“Sometimes when taking a test or understanding a textbook, you need to use logic to figure out the meaning,” he said. “WordMasters is a good way to stretch and challenge that ability.”

Staniforth said Ames Middle School WordMaster students met once a week for four weeks to learn the definitions, along with synonyms, antonyms and nuances of word meaning.

“Students act out the words, write songs about the definitions,  illustrate the words with cartoons and clay sculptures, and play a variety of games to help them learn the words,” she said.

WordMasters is part of the Extended Learning Program Literacy curriculum. Students are currently preparing for the third and final exam in the competition.

Seventh grade team: Emma Grause, Hannah Huang, Justin Kenny, David Kim, Erik Nelson, Mitchell Oh, Jina Park, Indeliso Prieto, Molly Putz and Haley Yoder.

Eighth team: Ainsley Chrystal, Moriah Conner,Adam Eichorn, Lydia Grawe, Helen Hu, Kijune Kim, Johanna Krie, Cary Smith, Nick Sulzberger and Sam Taylor

Read More

We’re moving to Camp Sawyer and you may need the bus!

Yes, Abbie Sawyer Elementary School is moving! For the 2015-16 school year, we will be setting up “camp” at the former Edwards school building (aka Camp Sawyer), at 3622 Woodland St.

It is critical that families coordinate their transportation plans immediately. For those who walk to Sawyer Elementary this year, the distance from home to Camp Sawyer on Woodland Street may be too far—especially in the winter months.

Please note that in the fall, Durham may be unable to process applications received later than one week before the start of school, and late applicants’ students will NOT be allowed to ride the bus until after Labor Day.

Please call the Sawyer Office (239-3790) or District Transportation Coordinator Dee Hehr (268-6640) with questions or concerns.


Read More

Ames High School Spring Play presents evening of 80s themes

AMES–Ames High School Theatre is returning to the 1980s with two shows set in the decade of glam metal music and big hair.

“That’s Not How I Remember It,” by Don Zolidis opens the evening, a one-act comedy about a husband and wife attempting to explain to their children how they met in the 1980s.  Unfortunately, each parent has a different perspective on how their relationship began.

The main stage show is “The Gifted Program (High School Edition),” by Ruben Carbajal. The play follows a group of misfit Dungeons and Dragon players navigating the rough waters of friendship, relationships and high school.  Anyone familiar with the 1980s movies of John Hughes (“Breakfast Club”) or “Revenge of the Nerds”, or even the 2004 “Napoleon Dynamite” will recognize these characters. Due to the mature themes of this show, Ames High School Theatre is not recommending anyone under the age of 13 to attend.

Curtain is 7:30 p.m,  Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, in the Ames High School Auditorium.

Tickets: $5, adults and students ninth grade and older; $4, students eighth grade and younger.

Read More

Resources for Iowa’s Early Literacy Implementation Program

Iowa passed a state law in 2012 designed to provide resources to improve literacy programs and boost the number of students who read at grade level by third grade.

Making sure parents or guardians are notified when their children need help and providing resources that families can use at home also are part of the legislation.

The State of Iowa’s website provides links to resources from Iowa Reading Resource Center.

IRRC also provides literacy resources for teachers and families, such as activities based on your child’s grade level or reading skill.

For more information, read the full letter from Director of Iowa Department of Education Brad Buck.


Read More
Juicebox Interactive