National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15

Practicing with 911

A Western Hills kindergartener practices making a 911 call with the help of West Des Moines Firefighters BJ Schumacker and Greg Siembieda.

Firefighters from the West Des Moines Fire Department visited kindergarten and first grade classes across the district to talk about fire safety in preparation of Fire Prevention Week this week.

They talked about fire prevention, safety with matches, and stop, drop and roll. The firefighters also let students know how important it is for them to know their address and phone number. A few lucky students practiced making a 911 call and giving their address and phone number to the operator.

Each class also got a tour of a fire truck, learning about the special gear firefighters wear and how they hook up hoses to different water sources. Continue reading


Honoring His Homecoming Queen

Honoring His Homecoming Queen

HarveyFlorer, 93, holds a picture of his wife, Hildreth, who was Valley’s first Homecoming Queen in 1939. The photo of Hildreth was taken at the dedication ceremony at Valley Stadium in 2003 when the coupled helped with the dedication and carried the torch from the old stadium to the new.

UPDATE: Our deepest condolences to the Florer family. Harvey made many great contributions to our district and he will be missed. Obituary

When the Valley High School football team sets off to the locker room for halftime of Friday’s Homecoming game, the Homecoming Court will take center stage. The king and queen will be crowned and photos taken for the yearbook. To many, reigning over the second half of the football game and the dance on Saturday would mark the end of their duties. But, as some people know, there is a great honor, tied to a wonderful story of history and generosity, waiting for the Valley Homecoming Queen.

Harvey Florer was a January 1939 graduate of Valley High School and captain of the football team. He later married Hildreth Kolling, also a Valley grad, who was crowned as Valley’s first Homecoming Queen in the fall of 1939. They attended Valley when the school was located near what is now Hillside Elementary. Hildreth was crowned in a new stadium that had been dedicated on May 24, 1939. There were three candidates and then radio personality (later KRNT-TV reporter) Russ Van Dyke was the lone judge who chose Hildreth as the queen. Continue reading

Three Meetings, One Night: New WDMCS Board members, officers, and more

The following is an informal summary of the actions of the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education at recent meetings. These are provided as a service to district staff and the public. They are not the official minutes of the board meeting, but quick rundowns of action taken. Official board minutes must be approved by the board per Policy 212.1 and then are posted on our website (

The evening of Sept. 19 saw the transition of the WDMCS board. Current board members are (back row, from left) David J. Brown, Kevin Carroll, Jill Hansen, Milton Cole, Elizabeth Brennan, Andi Lipman and Mark Lagomarcino. Retiring board members are (front row, from left) Mark Lyons, Terry Tobin and Tom Suckow.

The Board of Education of the West Des Moines Community School District met in special session on Monday, September 19, 2011, and took the following action: Continue reading

WDMCS School Board Election Results

School Board Members directly impact students' lives. Board Member Jill Hansen visits with WDMCS students. (She was not up for election this year.)

School Board elections were held Sept. 13 throughout the state of Iowa.

In the WDMCS, four seats were open and nine candidates campaigned for election. Unofficial election returns show David J. Brown, Kevin Carroll, Andi Lipman and incumbent Milton Cole as the winners of the election.

The new board members will be sworn in at the next meeting on Monday, Sept. 19. The following is brief biographical information on these individuals. (This information was originally compiled by the Des Moines Register.) Continue reading

Positioned Perfectly to Address Our Challenges

I began my work in the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) on July 1 meeting with the school board, with staff and some community members. I have also had the opportunity to participate in several statewide education-related activities like the Governor’s Education Summit.

I recently had the opportunity to share with the district staff the five challenges for the WDMCS in the coming months and into next year that I have been able to identify so far:

  1. Changing leadership;
  2. Changing demographics;
  3. State/federal budget reductions;
  4. State educational reform; and
  5. NCLB reauthorization. Continue reading

Getting to Know Superintendent Peter Ansingh

I would like to begin by thanking you all for the warm welcome to West Des Moines and to the WDMCS. I hope to meet more of you as the school year progresses. Until then please let me share a little bit about myself.

As I have been able to share with some you, I claim to be a Dutchman; my family immigrated to this country when I was four years old. I grew up in the Seattle area and attended Pacific Lutheran University intending to follow in my father’s footsteps as a physician. That was not to be; I finished my four years with a new-found faith in Christ and a degree in chemistry.  I then went off to the University of Wyoming to pursue what I thought would be a career in petroleum engineering. After a couple of months in classes like muds and drilling, I walked over to the College of Education and asked what I needed to do to become a teacher. I finished the requirements for a teaching certificate and a master’s degree in chemistry. Continue reading

Under Construction….

Welcome to the West Des Moines Community Schools blog. While we are still “under construction,” we want to tell you a little bit about what you can anticipate seeing here in the future.

  • Stories of student achievements;
  • Images of a caring community that knows and lifts every child;
  • Captured moments of inspired joy in learning;
  • Voices of district education experts sharing the work they do every day to improve instruction;
  • and much more.

Our goal in establishing this blog is to maintain open communication between our schools and the members of our community.

Stay tuned. The conversation here is about begin…