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Articles from March 2016

Edwards students promote art club with video

Edwards Elementary School’s fifth grade Art Club produced and starred in this video with the help of their teacher Michelle Mathias. Listen to the wisdom of students’ reasons for participating, from “Art makes you think,” to “Art is the connection between culture and people.”

Email  Ms. Mathias at  for information about joining art club next year.

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Ames Middle School Team earns highest honors at Wordmasters Challenge

AMES– A team representing Ames Middle School achieved Highest Honors in the recent WordMasters Challenge™—a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 150,000 students each year. The seventh grade team scored 183 points out of a possible 200 in the second of three meets this year. Placing fifth in the nation in the Blue Division, the team matched the ranking it achieved in the first meet of the year in November, in which it scored 188 points out of 200.

Seventh graders Roni Ben-Schlomo and Caius Danley each earned a perfect score of 20 on the difficult Blue Division WordMasters Challenge™, an achievement attained  by only 13 seventh graders in the nation. CJ Grawe and Ketty Nguyen achieved outstanding results in the Blue Division.

Competing in the very difficult Gold Division of the WordMasters Challenge™, eighth grader Hannah Huang was one of only 23 students in her division to earn a perfect score.   Eighth graders Emma Grause, Kelsey Helton, Justin Kenny, David Kim, Molly Putz and Sarah Song achieved outstanding results in the Gold Division.

The students were coached in preparation for the WordMasters Challenge™ by Jayne Staniforth.

The WordMasters Challenge™ is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting new words considered beyond their grade level, and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing logical relationships.  Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.  Although most vocabulary enrichment and analogy-solving programs are designed for use by high school students, WordMasters Challenge™ materials have been specifically created for younger students in grades three through eight.  They are particularly well suited for children who are motivated by the challenge of learning new words and enjoy the logical puzzles posed by analogies.

The WordMasters Challenge™ program is administered by a company based in Indianapolis, Indiana dedicated to inspiring high achievement in American schools.  

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Students earn awards and cultivate leadership at DECA competition

AMES– Ames High School students honed life skills and earned awards at the state DECA competition, February 28-29 in Des Moines. Vicki Hales, the advisor for the not-for-profit student organization that helps develop leadership and entrepreneurship for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, took 19 students to the event. Students competed through tests and role-playing scenarios with judges, in areas related to business principles, marketing, and finance, she said.

Stephen McKown, who earned first place and became State Champion in Business Services Marketing, summed up the experience.

“In 10 minutes, you had to solve a problem and establish a business relationship with your interviewer,” he said.

Grace Jean and McKenna Meinhard, second place winners in Travel and Tourism, said they learned the value of group collaboration.

“We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Meinhard said.

Lydia Romitti, who took third place in Accounting Applications, said after taking a 100-question test and completing two role-playing scenarios, she learned poise under pressure.

“I realized I know how to network with people and introduce myself in a professional way, even if I’m outside my comfort zone,” she said.

Ben Facio, who earned Honorable Mention for Accounting Applications, said he had to call upon prior knowledge to succeed at his role-playing scenario.

“I realized hadn’t studied the subject yet, so I used other knowledge to figure out what to do,” he said. “I used people skills to solve the problem.”

Sam Stuve, who earned Honorable Mention with teammate Kevin Maxwell for the Hospitality Team Event, said he learned he’s “good at something.”

“I’m good at team decision making,” he said. “We had to make a business proposal to fix a problem or improve something we’re already doing. We did it using a bit of common sense and the business principles we’ve learned.”

Maxwell said some of the scenarios presented ethical dilemmas.

“We had to determine if it’s ok to act that way and use that as a foundation,” he said.

Stuve said it’s more fun than it sounds.

“You need to experience it,” he said.

Philip Ma, State Champion in the Virtual Accounting Event, said the experience gave him confidence.

“I’m more prepared for future interviews,” he said.

McKown, Ma, Jean, Meinhard, Romitti, Sankey, Maxwell, Stuve, and Facio all qualified to compete in the International Career Development Conference to be held in Nashville in late April.


Back row, L-R: Stephen McKown, Ben Facio, Philip Ma, Kevin Maxwell, Mike Sankey, Sam Stuve. Front row, L-R: Lydia Romitti, Grace Jean, McKenna Meinhard. Not pictured: Max DiBlasi, Matt Boylan, and Toby Linder.

Participants and awards:

  • Stephen McKown, State Champion in Business Services Marketing
  • Philip Ma, State Champion in Virtual Accounting
  • Grace Jean and McKenna Meinhard, second place in Travel and Tourism team event
  • Lydia Romitti, third place in Accounting Applications
  • Mike Sankey, third place in Apparels and Accessories Marketing
  • Ben Facio and Philip Ma, honorable mention in Accounting Applications
  • Matt Boylan, honorable mention in Principles of Business Management and Administration
  • Kevin Maxwell and Sam Stuve, honorable mention in Hospitality team event
  • Max DiBlasi and Toby Linder, honorable mention in Business Law and Ethics team event



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