Skip to content

Articles from April 2016

Northwood students learn with musician Justin Roberts

AMES–For more than 20 years, two-time GRAMMY nominee Justin Roberts has been creating music helping families and children navigate the joys and sorrows of growing up. Roberts’ visit to Northwood Preschool Center Friday, Jan. 29 kept his young audience engaged and entertained while they practiced the essential elements of music learning.

Principal Brandon Schrauth said music learning is an important part of the preschool experience, and he invited Roberts because he is a master at integrating learning standards into his concerts.

A former preschool teacher, Roberts said the interactive aspects of his concerts naturally meet the learning goals for young children.

“It’s so important for children to experience music as part of their learning,” he said. “It helps with brain development and function, and supports and enriches foundational for concepts for math, science and language.”

Regardless of such empirical benefits, Roberts said, music is something people can enjoy and appreciate throughout their lives.

Hendrix Baumgartner, age 5, is on track for a lifetime of music enjoyment. He said he liked the concert from beginning to end.

“I learned my voice is an instrument I always have with me, and my hands are a drum,” he said. “I liked the last song best because we got to dance.”

The Iowa Learning Standards for music, rhythm and movement include:

  • Participation in a variety of musical and rhythmic experiences, including singing,dancing, listening, playing simple rhythmic and tonal instruments, and creating and singing chants, rhymes, and fingerplays from diverse cultures.
  • Demonstrating meaningful creative responses when listening to music to reflect the expressive elements of music.notices differences in pitch, rhythm, patterns, dynamics, tempo, and timbre.
  • Demonstrating an awareness of music as part of daily life indoors and outdoors.



Read More

Camp Sawyer fourth grader’s essay spurs visit from ISU wrestler

Nicole Coronado’s fourth grade students at Camp Sawyer Elementary School wrote essays as a literacy project. The essays didn’t sit on their desks, however. Students mailed them to important community members or influential people in the field of their essay topic.

Vinny Mayberry wrote an essay about the skill and drive required to be a good wrestler. He sent his essay and a letter to ISU wrestler Kyven Gadsen.

Vinny had heard Gadsen tell an interviewer after winning a big wrestling meet, that the thing he was most excited about was getting ice cream. Vinny ended his letter to Gadsen asking if Gadsen got his ice cream.

On Friday, April 7, Gadsen surprised Vinny and the class with a visit. He also brought ice cream.IMG_2205

Vinny said, “I didn’t know he was going to come see me! I was really happy he took time off his training to see me and the class. I really look up to him!”

Coronado said it’s important for students to see the real world purposes for any assignment they do in class.

“When we wrote our essays, I asked the students to think of who they would like to read them,” she said. “Many students chose workers at animal shelters, family members, and famous athletes. We mailed out all the essays but didn’t know if we would get many responses. When Gadsen showed up at school, I knew the students, especially Vinny, would be thrilled to see their essays did make an impact. It is moments like this that make learning fun!”

Gadsen spoke to the class about the importance of hard work and dedication, Coronado said.

“He was preparing to compete in an Olympic trial the Sunday after visiting and told the class he loves to eat ice cream, but when he is training he knows he has to watch what he eats, even if it is hard,” she said. “Although he couldn’t enjoy ice cream, he brought some for the class to enjoy.”

Read More

Camp Sawyer fifth grade student wins Best in Iowa art award

Hunter Zenger, in fifth grade at Camp Sawyer Elementary School, has been selected by Sargent Art for his self portrait as the winner of the Best of Iowa. In January, Hunter received an award as the top elementary piece in the Iowa Youth Art Month show. The Iowa Youth Art Month Show selected one piece by an elementary student, one piece by a middle school student, and two pieces by high school students. Sargent Art then announces one of the four student works as the Best of Iowa piece. Hunter’s piece has been selected as that piece. This honor entitles Hunter to an an all expense-paid trip to New York in July with a parent and his art teacher, Laurie Olk.

While in New York City, Hunter will be recognized at an awards banquet along with 28 other young artists from across the United States. Their trip includes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the World Trade Center Memorial, Rockefeller Center along with attending a Broadway Show and having a Harbor Ferry Tour around the Statue of Liberty. .

Bhakti Oza, who announced Hunter’s award on behalf of Sargent Art, said each time she sees the artwork that the students of America produce she is more humbled than before.

“To be able to give one’s imagination a tangible appearance is a unique gift as well as exceptional skill—and the guidance of an involved educator takes (Hunter and Ms. Olk)  to a distinctive level,” she said.

In an interview with the Ames Tribune, Hunter said his winning artwork was a self portrait inspired by the art style of Amedeo Modigliani, made in layers of cardboard pieces, all painted with oil pastels. His favorite part, he said was “how one eye was bigger than the other.”Hunter Zenger

Olk said Modigliani’s work often featured slanted or crooked faces, and Zenger said he liked using the style on his own face.

Olk said many of her students have received state and national awards and she credits them for their inner vision and work ethic.

“It is the highest honor and privilege to work with our students, families and especially the Sawyer Team,” she said. “This village knows how to raise kids!”

Read More

Fellows and Meeker students take first and second place at Quiz Bowl

AMES–District fourth-and fifth-grade students showcased their knowledge at the Fourth Annual Elementary Quiz Bowl Final Competition, Thursday, April 7. Fellows and Meeker teams took first and second place.

The Quiz Bowl final is the culmination of months of planning and collaboration. Ames High School students Kaleb Stevens and Jay Amin, as part of their participation in the Ames Community School District’s Extended Learning Program, worked with Extended Learning Program teachers Vicki Taylor, Nicole Kuhns, Mark Royer, and Ariane Schmidt, and other high school volunteers to write questions, organize meeting dates, and administer Quiz Bowl competitions at all  five Ames elementary schools.

Meeting monthly before school, district-wide teams participated in elimination rounds at each school. Based on those standings, each building’s top-scoring team earned a slot in the final competition. The next three highest-scoring teams were selected at large to complete the field of finalists.

ELP Director Nicole Kuhns said the competition continues to gain popularity and participants each year.

“The Quiz Bowl gets students excited about learning and gives them a chance to have some fun showcasing their knowledge,” she said.

Fellows Team – Winners:

  • Leo White
  • Aneesh Shrotriya
  • Noam Ben-Shlomo
  • Isabella Corierri
  • Alina Markutsya
  • Jacques Attinger

Meeker Team – Runners Up:

  • Maddy Cook
  • Michael Huang
  • David Lee
  • Dishant Sharma
  • Avery Opperman
  • Haley Prakashan
Read More

Mitchell students enjoy “walking school bus”

Mitchell Elementary School students walked to school with seniors in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Iowa State University for two weeks in April. The ROTC Corps initiated the walking school bus program to encourage the students to walk together and exercise.

“We have a couple different routes laid out, and we walk any kids that want to come out to school,” said ROTC senior Dani Hadaway. “It’s to start a mentor program for them and get them outside and actually walking.”

On the final day of the program, the ROTC Corps led students in outdoor activities.


Read more in the Ames Tribune: 

Read More

Meeker School hosts 500 Project public art show

Meeker art teacher Susan Norris challenged students to create representations of the number 500. The idea for the project originated from both the “growth mindset,” which encourages students to develop ideas that could keep them moving forward and lead into other ideas, and the sheer number of students in the school. – Norris received a Finn-Milliman grant in February to purchase a digital video camera to record students working on projects.

The public is invited, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 22 at Meeker Elementary School, 300 20th St.

Read more.


Read More

Farewell to Fellows Event set for May 1

An open house will be held 1 – 3 p.m. at 1400 McKinley Dr.

AMES– The Fellows Elementary School community is saying farewell by paying homage to its building and the learning opportunities and memories it housed for almost 50 years. Staff and parents have planned an open house farewell event from 1 – 3 p.m., Sunday, May 1.

Principal Carol Page said students are preparing displays of time capsules, which were buried  24 years ago and unearthed when sitework began for the new building students will occupy in August.fellowsfeature

“Our fifth graders are interviewing past students and staff, and staff and students are creating bulletin boards depicting the school’s history and their favorite memories,” she said.

Page said honoring Dale Brentnall, the principal who opened the building, is a major focus of the event.

“Mr. Brentnall had a timeless vision for this building and its students and we all have benefited from his legacy,” she said. “We’ll be looping a video interview that we hope conveys what a remarkable man he is.”

Page said the public is invited to walk through the building and enjoy refreshments. Students will provide musical performances in the gymnasium at 1:30 and 2:30 pm.

“We’re excited to move into our new building, but it’s hard to think about this building being demolished,” Page said.

“There are a few things that deserve to be preserved. One of our families has offered to dig up the perennial bulbs in front of the building and give them away as mementos.”

In August, the school community will move into a new building built on the current site. The old building is scheduled for demolition in late June.


Read More

Edwards Maker Faire sparks students’ creative solutions

Edwards Elementary students have embraced the Making process to create solutions to challenges and craft new games and 3D objects using a wide array of materials. Technology Teacher / Librarian Teresa Green led students in each grade to provide challenges for their projects and help them research ideas for their solution before designing and building. On Tuesday, March 29, students shared their creations with parents, friends, and their peers at the school’s second annual Maker Faire.

Green said first grade students were challenged to create a marble run from recycled materials. Second graders opted to design and build a cardboard arcade based upon the video “Cain’s Arcade”.

“Third grade students learned about Simple Machines and were challenged to create a chain reaction or a marble run in which a marble drops into a cup after using at least two simple machines in the process,” Green said.

Third grader Charles Hargrove said about his chain reaction machine, “It was hard to figure out how to make it work, but when we did, it was really fun.”


Edwards fourth grader Adrian Cardenas demonstrates a Makey Makey Game Controller he made with classmate Spencer Hostetter.

Fourth graders learned to create circuits using LittleBits, Makey Makeys, or Snap Circuits.

“Given an open range of choices, most fifth grade students worked with Tinkercad to create or tinker with 3D objects that would be used in their projects,” Green said. Others worked with engineering and design challenges with cardboard construction.

“And others worked with animation and movie production as they created game ideas, human interest stories, and public service announcements,” she said.

Read More

Author’s life lessons resonate with Ames Middle School students

AMES–Children’s author Ben Mikaelsen has a passion for helping young people break free of labels and discover their own special genius. He brought  his message to Ames Middle School students, Monday, April 11.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, South America, Mikaelsen is one of six children born to strict fundamental missionaries he says always had time for their religious meetings, devotions, services and work, but seldom spent time with their children. He began writing as a way to escape the not-so-good things happening in his life—like reverse racism and revolutions in Bolivia  and bullying when he moved with his family to Minnesota.

Sixth grade students said Mikaelsen gave voice to issues that are on their minds.

“I learned that by being different shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they love to do,” Ben McHenry said.

Anatasia Olson said she appreciated Mikaelson’s encouragement to “fight against bullying.”

“People don’t realize it’s still a school problem,”  she said.

Mikaelsen says his goal is to help students discover their own potential. Samantha Chriswisser said the author inspired her confidence in her own potential.

“I thought if I worked hard I could achieve my dreams,” she said. “I learned from Ben that I also need to believe in myself.”

Jason Vernon said, “He taught me dreams aren’t just fantasy.”

“Students can discover the same lessons that I learned,” Mikaelsen says on his website. “They are authors also, not just of words on some written page, but of reality. We are all the authors of our lives.”


Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the goal for the author visit was simple.

“Get students engaged and in love with reading again,” he said. “Once the students heard the author of our book was coming, they couldn’t finish it fast enough.”

DeJong recited the question that guides his teaching.

“What do I want my students to remember about my classroom 10 years from now? I hope this experience was one of those things!”

If Kaylie Davis’s response to Mikaelsen’s presentation is any indication, DeJong’s goal was met. Kylie said she was most impressed with the storytelling that inspires Mikaelsen’s novels. “He talked about when he came to America, children would tease him because he didn’t know American football was different from football in his country. He asked the Americans “What do you do? Eat spaghetti with your ears?”

Mikaelsen’s novels have won many state Reader’s Choice awards, have been carried by Scholastic and Troll book fairs, and are recorded as unabridged audio books. His novels include “Rescue Josh McGuire”, “Sparrow Hawk Red”, “Stranded”, “Countdown”, “Petey”, “Touching Spirit Bear”, “Red Midnight”, “Tree Girl” and “Ghost of Spirit Bear”.

Mikaelson’s visit was sponsored by the Ames Education Foundation.

Read More
Juicebox Interactive