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Articles from October 2019

All-State Music 2019

All State Music

Congratulations to the 28 Ames High musicians who were selected to participate in the 2019 Iowa All-State Music Festival. District Auditions for the 279-piece all-state band, 227-piece all-state orchestra, and 601-member all-state chorus were held on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Approximately 17% of the students who audition are selected for membership in the All-State ensembles. The 2019 Festival will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of this prestigious event and will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum. 

Band All-State Accepted:

Sarah Song, Clarinet (orchestra)

Kayley Helmer, 1st Clarinet

Sofyia Palasyuk, 1st Clarinet

Jerry Han, 2nd Clarinet

Kai Johnson, 3rd Clarinet

Carl Balvanz, Bass Clarinet

Lillie Kennedy, Bassoon (orchestra)

Madelyn Timmermans, 2nd Trumpet

Avery Suza, Trumpet 1st /2nd – (orchestra)

Kailyn Thompson, 1st Horn

Isabelle Anderson, 3rd Horn

Ling Bai, 4th Horn

Anna Cullinan, 5th Horn (orchestra)

Mario Napolitano, Trombone

Nitzan Friedberg, Tuba

Ava Chopskie, Percussion

Erik Paskach, Percussion (orchestra)

Orchestra All-State Accepted & Alternates:

Angelina Chen – Violin I

Amy Guan – Violin I

Daniel Lee – Violin I

David Lee – Violin II

Carter Peterson – Cello

Arianna Williams-Suarez– Cello


Madison Vandewater – Alternate Viola 2

Ellie Barry – Alternate Cello 1

Aileen Laubach – Alternate Cello 2

Choir All-State Accepted

Zoe Mamakos – Soprano

Cassidy Peterson – Alto

Adam Wolf – Tenor

Jackson Bryant – Bass

Ana Yam – Piano

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Chad Zmolek named NFHS Iowa Boys Soccer Coach of the Year

Coach Z graphic

Long-time Ames High boys soccer coach was named the National Federation of High School (NFHS) Coaches Association’s Iowa Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. This recognition honors coaches for significant achievement in their sport throughout their careers. Nominees for boys’ sports in Iowa are selected by each sport’s respective state coaches association and is approved by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

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Elementary Reading: FUNdations and Reading Units of Study

10 Elementary Reading

After an extensive review process including feedback and input from staff, students, and community members, Ames CSD purchased the research-based Reading Units of Study for all EK-5th grade classrooms. Reading Units of Study utilizes a reading workshop model where students spend significant time reading books of their choice and writing about those books. Students also learn with teachers in one on one conferences as well as in small group instructional teams. Finally, collaborative and sharing opportunities are built into the reading workshop.  

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Ames High Science Teacher Mike Todd receives the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

Mike Todd PAEMST

Four Iowa educators including Ames High science teacher Mike Todd, have been named recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Todd was a state finalists in 2017. 

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Auto Repair: from DMACC to the Garage

Auto Repair: from DMACC to the Garage

Auto Repair graphic

For much of last summer, senior Matthew Blitvich’s rust damaged Mazda Miata took up the majority of his parents’ garage. With the clear coat starting to peel and fade, Blitvich was committed to fixing it up on his own. During his junior year, he enrolled in Auto Collison, a class offered to Ames High students through the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). His motivation was simple: “If I did a good job at DMACC, then I could just paint it myself.”

Blitvich enjoys working on cars but understood the complexity and art of painting an automobile. The DMACC class spent much of the first semester on body repair. Students were given fenders to fix up by taking the dents and gashes out of. “The second semester we started painting and did around 3 colors per fender, then one custom paint job as the last one.” The last project was to paint and build a child’s peddle car. This was when Matt tested out the color he wanted for his Miata.

Equipped with the knowledge and courage to take it on himself, he jacked up his car and started taking it apart. First were the tires, then the bumpers, hood, trunk, doors, and mirrors. After sanding it down to the bare metal and original primer, he filled in the dents and cuts and welded the body to fit fender flares. Next was priming and painting. To create an effective and functional paint booth, he hung sheets of plastic around his car using PVC pipes and furnace filters and an old fan for ventilation. With the knowledge gained from his DMACC class, he was able to use the correct technique for both painting and the clear coat. Once everything was dried, he reassembled the car he always desired. 

Matt funded this project on his own by working for The Cafe and detasseling throughout the summer. Proudly, his mother Helen said, “We don’t own a paint booth and we weren’t going to buy one either so Matthew built his own paint booth.” They did contribute just over $300 of the $4,100 total project bill. For both his parents, that contribution was worth the price of watching initiative and follow-through from their son. Matt sees auto repair as a hobby, but also as a back-up plan. He currently plans to pursue Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University next year. 

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Fifteen Ames High Students named Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program


National Merit Semifinalists

On September 11, 2019, officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These individuals have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $31 million that will be offered next spring. 

Ames High School had fifteen 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. Congratulations to these students!

Ames High School Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program:

  • Jinal Amin
  • Silvia Aydinyan
  • Lara Baker
  • Jason Chen
  • Oliver Chen
  • Hannah Huang
  • David Kim
  • Yijin Kim
  • Victoria Kyveryga
  • Erik Nelson
  • Mitchell Oh
  • Connor Schroeder
  • Jasper Shogren-Knaak
  • Sarah Song
  • Simeon Steward
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Ames High Selected to Participate in teen Mental Health First Aid Pilot Program

teen Mental Health First Aid

Ames High will participate in the teen Mental Health First Aid pilot program run by the National Council for Behavioral Health with support from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. 

Ames High is participating in the expanded teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program, the first of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S. The school is one of 40 sites selected to take part in the second cohort of the pilot program. This fall, two individuals will attend training that will then be implemented starting next spring. 

“We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community and students,” said Ames High Principal Brian Carico. “The program will teach high school students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.” 

tMHFA is an in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions and how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among their peers. Similar to CPR, students learn a 5-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide. 

The course specifically highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult. This training is the next step in continuing our work in the area of mental health. At the end of last school year, all teachers across the District participated in an 8-hour Mental Health First Aid training. 

“We’re thrilled Ames High is one of the first U.S. high schools to participate in teen Mental Health First Aid,” said Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “Teens trust their friends, so they need to be trained to recognize signs of mental health or substance use problems in their peers. The number one thing a teen can do to support a friend dealing with anxiety or depression is to help them seek support from a trusted adult.”

Through this pilot, Ames High is taking an important step toward ensuring students are able to recognize when a friend or peer might be struggling and to feel confident that they know what to do to help. Knowing how to spot the signs that someone in our lives is experiencing a mental health challenge and understanding how we can support that person is a basic life skill we all need to have – especially teenagers.

tMHFA is an evidence-based training program from Australia. The National Council adapted the training with support from Born This Way Foundation and Well Being Trust. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health are assessing the pilot program to evaluate its effectiveness. The training will be available to the public following analysis of the pilot study. 

Next semester, about half of all 10th graders will receive the teen Mental Health First Aid training within their health class. The year after that and moving forward, all 10th graders will receive the training.

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