Northwest News

May Newsletter

A Letter From the Principal

Dear Northwest families,

As we enter into the last few weeks of the school year, it is a good time to reflect and remember all of the challenges that have come along throughout this school year. As it is also Teacher Appreciation Week, it is a great opportunity to express your gratitude to our teachers and school staff members that have been so amazing as we have navigated uncharted waters! From being online, to hybrid learning, to 100% in person learning, to quarantine learning, our teachers and staff have never stopped having high expectations for our students. Please send them a note of gratitude or use the form in this newsletter to recognize their efforts. We will continue to work hard these last few weeks!

Our teachers and staff have not been the only ones who have persevered through this year. Our students have also been resilient in their ability to handle the many changes that have come up this year. Although we have seen some increased challenging behavior from some students, we recognize that the root of these behaviors are trauma, uncertainty, and fear. Many of our students have lost loved ones to Covid, have been required to be responsible for younger siblings, or been anxious and depressed due to the way last school year ended and how this school year has gone. We have been working as a building team and with District support to provide more social emotional learning opportunities and to teach our students how to do school again. We have implemented individualized plans for struggling students and provide individual and group therapy opportunities through community partners. We will continue to celebrate all of our students and use our resources to support those that need extra attention.

Covid 19 has not been the only challenge that our students, schools, and society has faced this year. We have also been living through a period of significant social unrest. As educators we have followed the District stance and have used these opportunities to teach our students about the history around some of these issues. We want all students to feel safe and heard at school, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender identification. The administrative team has been very clear that harassment and hurtful language or slurs will not be tolerated. We also encourage our students to speak up when they hear something that it is not right and to stand up for what they believe in. Our amazing students will change the world one day!

Thank you to all of our parents for your support and encouragement this school year. Not only have you had your student’s back, but you have had ours as well. We could not have done this without your kind words, thoughtful gestures, and trust. We look forward to a positive end to the school year and a restful and peaceful summer for everyone. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything that you or your student needs. We are happy to help!


Elizabeth Bruening, Principal

Upcoming Events

May 6th- Track Meet at Liberty, 4:15pm

May 11th- Track Meet at West, 4:15pm

May 12th- PSTO Meeting, 5:30pm

May 31st- No School

June 11th- Last Day of School

Anna Song Selected as Semifinalist in Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest

A student from our school, Anna Song, was recently announced by NASA and Future Engineers as one of 155 semifinalists in the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest. This national competition asked K-12 students across the country to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole. Approximately 14,000 essay submissions were received from students across the country and the best one percent were chosen as semifinalists!

The essay contest was issued in collaboration with NASA’s Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. Using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, the Artemis Program will use what is learned on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars.

The title of Anna’s essay was Recipe for Astronauts (Yield: Seven Servings). As a semifinalist, Anna will receive an Artemis Prize Pack filled with space-themed prizes plus the opportunity to attend a series of virtual Artemis Explorer Sessions with NASA experts. While Anna was not chosen to be one of the nine national finalists, I felt proud and excited for Anna that she was chosen as a semifinalist!

Ms. Copenhaver, Earth and Space Science

Iowa City Schools Make Calendar Changes Following Student-Led Campaign by Reem Kirja

Thanks in large part to the relentlessness of a current student, all students and staff in the Iowa City Community School District will see changes on the calendar starting next school year.

On Tuesday, the Iowa City school board voted to change the 2021-2022 school calendar to include days off on May 3 for the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Fitr and on Sept. 16 for the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

Reem Kirja, an eighth grader at Northwest Junior High School in Coralville, has been petitioning the district to include the Muslim holy days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as days off on its calendar for the last three years. The two holidays are determined by the lunar cycle, so they don’t fall on the same day every year and are not necessarily celebrated during the school year, as their dates can sometimes fall during the summer break. In 2022, Eid al-Adha will be celebrated in July.

NWJH American Studies Students Isabel Ceynar and Tyler Lieberman Published in the Press-Citizen

NW students Tyler Lieberman and Isabel Ceynar were a part of a project where OLP students learned about how to write op-eds and make their voices heard. They met with P-C Opinion Page Editor Zachary Oren Smith and chose topics that were important to them.
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Track Meet Volunteers Needed May 11th

Please volunteer to help at the NWJH Track meet. We are only hosting one meet this year so this will be your only opportunity to help out! Use the link below to sign up.

Please note the meet will be held at West High.

Science Classes Plant Trees for Earth Day

In recognition of Earth Day 2021, Mr. Hill's science classes planted trees on school grounds. Pictured here are students in the process of preparing and planting a bur oak and an American linden tree. Student volunteers did the digging, root preparation, watering and staking. It was a fantastic day and we look forward to seeing how magnificent these trees (and students) will become in the future.

MathCounts News

This year the Iowa The State Competition consisted of the top 5 students from each of the ten Iowa Chapters plus an additional ten students who were selected based on their Chapter scores. It was harder to qualify for state this year as normally they take about 150-175 students from around the state. We were also limited on the number of students we could enter in our local qualifying event to eight (which unfortunately left out some very deserving students).

In a "normal" in person State Competition, the top ten students are called up for trophies and medals. They then compete in what is called the "Countdown Round." In the Countdown Round students go head-head in a game show style competition two at a time until the individual champion is determined (all in front of an audience). Below are the NWJH Students who would have been in that round based on their written round ranking. Since there was no Countdown Round this year, students State Written Round scores determined their final rank.

1st Place - Edward Li

2nd Place - Catherine Xu

3rd Place - Richard Yang

7th Place - Sophia Jin

8th Place - Winston Fan

9th Place - Jessie Li

10th Place - Andrew Chen

11th Place - Kai Merrill

Edward is now the back to back Iowa Individual State Champion with a chance to go for three next year. Edward, Catherine, and Richard will be three of the four students representing the State of Iowa in the National MATHCOUNTS Competition May 10. Edward and Richard are now two-time National Finalists.

These students have worked very hard to get where they are. Hopefully they can be an inspiration to the younger students in the years to come. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations on Retirement, Ms. Anderson!

Jill Anderson has been the vocal music director at Northwest Junior High for the past 24 years. Ms. Anderson has built a strong program that leads to much success. She directs both 7th and 8th grade treble and bass choirs, as well as show choir. In addition, she also teaches a general music class for 7th grade students. Ms. Anderson is looking forward to pursuing other interests in her retirement while continuing to be active in the music community. She will judge competitions, continue teaching private lessons, and work closely with her husband who is also a retired vocal music director. Jill and her husband will be moving to Des Moines this summer, but will keep close ties to Iowa City as their son lives and works here.
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Teachers Win Student Council Grants

This month the Student Council awarded four Teacher Inclusion Grants of $300 each to teachers who submitted proposals on how to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their classrooms and lessons. The Council voted on the proposals and awarded a grant to Ms. Harris, Ms. Keitel, Ms. Ryan, and Mr. Luett. Congratulations on your excellent proposals!

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3rd to May 7th. PSTO is seeking donations for lunch and dessert. Please sign up HERE.

We are also asking students to show their appreciation for teachers and staff by submitting online notes of thanks. Students and parents can use the Teacher/Staff Appreciation Form.

Thank you!

ISASP Information for Online Families

As a reminder, we will be holding remote ISASP testing on May 17 and 18 for online students. Information will be sent out soon from Gregg Shoultz.

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PSTO Meeting-Officers Needed!

Wednesday, May 12th, 5:30pm

This is an online event.

Please join us for the PSTO meeting via Zoom.

PSTO elections will take place at the May 12th PSTO meeting and the volunteers are needed for Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Sign up Genius Coordinator. Katy Herbold has graciously agreed to run for President.

NWJH Teacher/Staff Recognition

Teacher and Staff Recognition! Say Thank You to your favorite teacher or staff member by giving them a SWAG Award!
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Attendance Information

-Please call us at 319-688-1060 when your student will be absent from any classes, for both online only and hybrid students

-Please call the office ahead of time to excuse your student from class

-Please call at least two hours before picking up your student early from school

-We ask that you remain in your car/outside to wait for your child to exit the building

-Attendance messages can be left on our answering machine 24 hours a day

Grab & Go Meals

Grab & Go meals will be available for all Iowa City Community School District students. Each meal includes breakfast and lunch. Menu information can be found at MealViewer, under the Grab & Go menu. Meals are free and will be distributed Monday through Friday (with the exception of No School days) from 12:00 pm -1:00 pm at the following locations:

  • City High School
  • Hills Elementary School
  • Liberty High School
  • North Central Junior High
  • Northwest Junior High
  • South East Junior High
  • West High School

The Iowa City Community School District began partnering with Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA) in the fall of 2019. This school year, two full-time GIA members, Lisa Stark and Meg SmolikHagen, will be working with the District on sustainability-related projects such as developing a model composting and recycling program, supporting school gardens, increasing prairie habitat, environmental/sustainability-related education outreach, as well as a monthly newsletter.

Please check out this month’s issue of their sustainability newsletter The Green School House Effect here: We encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter to follow their work and find ways to get involved!

The Iowa City Community School District remains committed to our COVID-19 health and safety practices. The well-being of our students, staff, and families is our first priority. We are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines to ensure we can safely, effectively, and consistently provide access to learning and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The District’s measures are meant to keep our community safe, but they are only fully effective if we are diligent and responsible in adhering to them. For further information on our COVID-19 safety protocols, please visit

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the Iowa City Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please contact Jeremy Tabor, Director of Equity & Employee Relations, 1725 N. Dodge St., Iowa City, IA 52245, (319) 688-1000,