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Articles from December 2017

#FOOD4FRIENDS AMS Food Pantry Drive

AMS Food Pantry Drive

The Ames Middle School Cyclone Leadership Council (CLC) organized a food drive where all of the donations went directly toward filling the middle school food pantry. Homeroom teachers collected food on two days, October 31 and November 7, and students were able to dress up during those days. Lisa Kirsch, a staff organizer of the event, said, “Our goal is to restock the AMS Food Pantry for students in need while allowing our students to contribute to this worthy cause and have fun dressing up with fellow students.”

The initial goal set by the CLC envisioned success if each homeroom could bring at least 10 items for the food pantry. At the end of the two day drive, 2,250 food items were collected among the homerooms in grades 6-8, far exceeding expectations. The initiative of students and generosity of the families at the middle school made storing the food the most challenging part of the drive.

Although coordinated by AMS student leaders, along with Lisa Kirsch and Sara Knutson who serve as CLC co-chairs, the drive was a schoolwide effort. Students brought this drive home, families supported it, and homeroom teachers coordinated with their students to collect the food items. The food goes home with students in need for their families each weekend, and this drive directly impacted middle school families.

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Fellows 2nd Graders Engineer to the Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs is fairy tale about three pigs who built three houses of different materials. A big bad wolf blows down the first two pigs‘ houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house, which was made of bricks.

Fellows 2nd grade teachers Holly Shirbroun and Shena Crawford, and their classes, recently explored this story and added a STEM component to the unit. Students were asked to collaborate with each other and implement engineering strategies to create a house to surround a paper pig using only gumdrops and toothpicks. In teams of two, students collaborated with each other, and practiced engineering strategies that asked them to design a plan, implement that plan, and afterwards make decisions on how they could improve their structure. The project was also used as a way to introduce new math terms that students will be utilizing as the school year progresses.

The engagement of the students was high as they communicated with each other on how to build their structures. Students were given opportunities to share their “best practices” that they discovered with the rest of the class (hint: cut the gumdrops in half!). The highlight of the activity came when students were asked to test their building structure. Mrs. Shirbroun kept this component a secret from the students until it was time to unveil a hair dryer dressed as a big, bad wolf. Students were delighted by the wolf and held their toothpick structures up against the blowing wind. They were especially satisfied when their structure stood tall.

Although not all structures stood as a whole, the enthusiasm surrounding the project encouraged students to revisit their structure, design new, and build again so they can have a chance to test again the wolf.

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Iowa Teacher of the Year: Aileen Sullivan

Aileen Sullivan, a veteran chemistry teacher at Ames High, was named the 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year by Governor Kim Reynolds at a surprise event that was also attended by Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.

Sullivan has taught at Ames High School since 1996 and is known for challenging her students, her colleagues, and herself to grow and improve. Superintendent Dr. Tim Taylor hired Sullivan in 1996 and dubbed her a “kid magnet.” She has “that hidden ability to understand and relate to young people that draws them in and allows her to push them to their potential.”

Sullivan, along with her husband Joel Sullivan, who nominated Aileen and is also a teacher at Ames High, found out that she was selected as the Teacher of the Year two months prior to the event and was embargoed from discussing it. “When I nominated her, my goal was for her to get the recognition she deserves as a teacher and leader in our district. None of what she does is very public and few people realize how hard she works and how dedicated she is to improving her craft and helping students.”

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Rev’n for Seven: Girls Swimming and Diving Win 7th State Championship

 

 

The Ames High Girls Swimming and Diving team were Rev’n for Seven as they entered the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) State Championships. The two day event was held in Marshalltown on November 3-4, and the Little Cyclones entered with an undefeated season with several contenders looking to dethrone Ames as the top program in the state.

This year’s team had the responsibility of carrying history into the State Meet. Since 2010, the Little Cyclones have won 6 state titles, with their only loss coming at the State Meet in 2014 where they were runner up to Pleasant Valley. Since that time, the Little Cyclones have forged ahead with a new winning streak and their eye on a seventh state championship.

Friday night consisted of the diving event where Ames qualified 3 divers in the top 10. The team was led by Jayna Misra, who entered the competition with the second highest qualifying total. After her second of 11 dives, Jayna took the lead and never looked back. Her combined score of 542.45 was the second highest total since 1967 and 57 points better than the runner up finisher. Senior Kaylee Clendenen had her best meet of the year, finishing 6th. The 33 team points earned during the diving portion got Ames off to an early lead in the team competition.

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Edwards Elementary Maker Theater

On October 13, third graders at Edwards Elementary staged a theater production in front of packed classrooms full of family members and fellow students. The “maker theater” was a collaboration between Edwards teachers and Iowa State University students in the School of Education.

Professors Sara Nelson and Christa Jackson worked with students and staff to combine lessons in literacy and geometry to help develop sets and scripts within the third grade classrooms. The scripts were based on seven children’s books and performed in the form of a reader’s theater. This style gives students an opportunity to focus on fluency and to express themselves while reading. This year’s maker theater was a pilot project with both teachers and ISU professors looking to expand the concept in future versions.

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Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit

Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit

On Friday, September 29, Ames High students participated in the inaugural Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit, hosted by the Des Moines Public Schools and sponsored by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The catalyst for the event arose out of a few incidents where a racial slur was used on the football field between a DMPS football team and a metro suburb. This incidents were not in isolation, but the Des Moines Public Schools wanted to use them as a way instigate productive change within the school systems.   

According to a DMPS press release, Roosevelt High School Principal Kevin Biggs was “instrumental in taking the lead in understanding something needed to be done on a larger scale to bring all groups together for the good of the cause.”

Ames High jumped on the opportunity to get students involved and sent 13 students to the summit. Throughout the day, student listened to keynote speakers and engage in discussions with students from other schools. Several Ames students spoke at the summit and talked about their personal experiences with bias as well as the consequences of not speaking out for what is right.

Ames High School Counselor Amy DeBlasi said “the first annual Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit addresses challenging stereotypes and creating an environment where youth feel safe to speak up for what’s right.” Each attending school developed an action plan as a takeaway from the event, presented it to the group of 200 total students, and the implementation of this plan will be led by Ames High student leaders.

In addition to the Des Moines schools of East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, and Roosevelt High, other CIML-members schools who participated in the event included Ames, Ankeny Centennial, Marshalltown, Southeast Polk, Urbandale, Waukee, and West Des Moines Valley.

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Meeker Elementary Buddy Bench

Last year, a group of 5th graders at Meeker Elementary worked with the middle school builders club on a project to make their building better. They saw the need for a Buddy Bench on the playground “as a place for kids to go to indicate that they would like someone to play with at recess,” according to Meeker Elementary School Counselor Kari Deal.

On Friday, August 25, the new Buddy Bench was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Meeker PTO. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Buddy Bench, it is a place for a child to sit if they’re feeling lonely while indicating interest in joining an individual or group during recess. The bench also provides a visual cue for children playing that another child desires to be included.

The Buddy Bench is a great addition to the playground, but also a wonderful way to continue the Meeker C.A.R.E.S. initiative, which is an acronym for Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Melissa Stone, a School Counselor at Meeker, said “we’re definitely trying to instill compassion, but also assertion. It’s hard to go sit down and let people know that I want someone to play with.” Kari Deal said “It’s really cool to hear them use the term as they are talking to other kids and adults, and they realize when they are making a positive choice, which ties in really well with the Buddy Bench.”

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Storm of Kindness School Supply Campaign

Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma ravaged southern parts of the United States and Christy Franco’s 4th grade class at Fellows Elementary School followed the events closely as a part of their current events study.

The students began asking questions about what would happen with the schools in the area and were genuinely concerned about the welfare of the students and schools that were impacted by the storm and flooding.

Franco capitalized on their enthusiasm to help and began organizing the “Storm of Kindness” school supply campaign. She reached out to Principal Brandon Schrauth and Fellows PTO President Angie Weber to organize the drive.

Students made posters for the campaign and with the help of a local videography company and Fellows parent, Tom Haggas from Cheshire Moon Films, produced a video to highlight their efforts and to educate the community on how they can help.

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Thirteen Ames High Students named National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists

National Merit Semifinalists

On September 12, officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These individuals have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $32 million that will be offered next spring.

Ames High School had thirteen students achieve Semifinalists status this year. To become a Finalist according to the NMSC, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. The thirteen semifinalists from Ames mark some of the highest totals in the state. Congratulations to these students!

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ACT Report on the Ames High School Graduating Class of 2017

ACT Report 2017

The 2017 Graduating Class ACT Profile Report was recently released, after being embargoed from media publication until September 7. The report summarizes the preparation and performance of last year’s graduates and compares Ames students on the college entrance exam to the state and the nation.

Last year, 214 Ames students took the test with an average composite score of 25.2 (out of a perfect 36). This average is 3 points above the state average, and 4 points better than national average. Ames students performed higher across all the tests which include English, math, reading, and science.

ACT Composite       English        Math         Reading      Science

Nation     21.0                 20.3           20.7            21.4            21.0

Iowa        21.9                 21.2           21.3            22.6            22.1

AHS        25.2                 24.4           24.9            26.0            25.0

No students last year scored a perfect 36, but 5 graduates recorded a score of 35. Of the 214 total students, 48 of them marked a score of ≤ 30.

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