West Des Moines Community Schools | June 1, 2021

Special Edition: Student and Retiree Stories

Over this past school year, you've seen countless We are ALL WDMCS newsletters. Most were filled with important COVID-19 updates, online and on-site learning information, and other time-sensitive details that had substance. But they didn't always focus on the heart of WDMCS: our people.

This final 2020-21 edition of We are ALL WDMCS shares inspiring stories of graduating seniors and retiring staff. We have a few final reminders sprinkled at the bottom of the newsletter, but I invite you to take a few moments to read each story below. They are powerful reminders of why we as employees chose to work for WDMCS. Hopefully, they are also reminders of why YOU chose to send your children here.

Thank you for your dedication and grit this year. #WeAreAllWDMCS #TigersTogether #TheWalrusWay

Laine Mendenhall-Buck
Director of School/Community Relations

Opportunity and Inspiration

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Senior student-athlete Laura Kipnusu relies on her family and new opportunities for motivation.

Valley High School senior Laura Kipnusu never says no to an opportunity. From competing in male-dominated sports to joining leadership programs and earning 33 Des Moines Area Community College credits as a high schooler, Kipnusu strives to always be ready when opportunity comes knocking.

The oldest of seven siblings and the daughter of immigrants, she credits her family with motivating her to do her best. Now looking forward to graduation on May 30, it’s her experiences with equity and activism that have helped her choose a future path.

Read Laura's story >

A Legacy of Caring and Connection

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Belén Warnemunde’s journey from district volunteer to colleague, confidante, and honorary sister.

Bilingual family liaison Belén Warnemunde, retiring in 2021 after 17 years of (official) service with the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS), has a favorite story about her time in the district. After chatting with a second grader, she heard another student ask them who she was.

“She replied, ‘Oh, she’s the lady that calls home when you do something wrong,’” Warnemunde shared in this year’s retiree booklet. “What a legacy!”

Those who have worked with her know her legacy goes far beyond those rare calls. Originally an educational interpreter who worked with students in the classroom, Warnemunde now supports Spanish-speaking students and families as a bilingual family liaison from the start of enrollment to each student’s graduation. The care she exhibits has resulted in a trust and affection for Warnemunde that fills the room when families and co-workers share their own stories about her. They describe her as someone they can count on, “an incredible human being,” even a sister.

And Warnemunde feels the same way.

Read the rest of Belen's inspirational story >

‘A Great Fit’: How Walnut Creek Campus Helped This Senior Prepare For His Future

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Kendell Cropp can already feel the excitement when he thinks about what it will be like walking across the Staplin Performing Arts Center stage with a high school diploma in hand.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Cropp said. “Walnut Creek helped me realize I can do a lot more.”

On Thursday, May 27, Cropp and his classmates officially became the Class of 2021 at Walnut Creek Campus. Walnut Creek, which is the West Des Moines Community Schools’ (WDMCS) alternative high school, prides itself for its mission to inspire growth and connections through personalized education.

And that’s exactly what drew Cropp into joining the Walnut Creek family.

At first, when Cropp opted to leave Valley Southwoods Freshman High School about three-fourths of the way into his freshman year, he knew very little about Walnut Creek. Once Cropp learned more about it, he figured out how the school’s culture and loyal staff would help him get where he wanted to be.

“Walnut Creek was a great fit because it’s a self-placed pace and that helped me learn better,” he said.

Learn more about Kendell >

After 30 Years At WDMCS, Crossroads Park Principal Robert Davis Made School A Good Place To Be

A large bookcase, in pristine condition and not a speck of dust in sight, stands along the south wall of Robert Davis’, Ph.D., principal’s office at Crossroads Park Elementary. Items on its shelves — old family photos, educational degrees, even a brick from a school building that’s since been demolished — serve as a glimpse into the special moments of his life.

A lifelong learner and educator.

A loving husband and grandfather.

A gentle friend and leader.

After 30 years serving as an elementary school principal for the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS), and 44 overall in education, Davis will retire and “start over” himself. Yet throughout much of his life, Davis was hard-pressed by others’ doubt and uncertainty. He wasn’t supposed to be in this profession or to have the achievements he’s garnered.

No, Davis has far exceeded those limited expectations, establishing an illustrious, decades-long career of servant leadership for thousands of WDMCS students, staff, and families.

Read more about Dr. Davis' lasting legacy >

How Westridge Elementary Adapted to Coronavirus

By Westridge Fifth Graders Soleil A. and Katherine S.
Edited by WDMCS School/Community Relations

Westridge Elementary is known for being welcoming to families and students. In years past, conferences took place at the school. Every fall, parents, teachers, and students would watch as their friends and classmates put on a play. In the winter, the entire school would fill up the gym for the sing-along. At recess, classes could play with each other.

Westridge was an amazing place, and it still is — just a bit different. Like the rest of the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS), some Westridge students learned on-site, others learned online, and some did a mix of both throughout the year.

The major changes this year were wearing masks (optional as of May 20), separate recess areas, and specials (art, counseling, music, and physical education). At the beginning of the school year, students and teachers had to haul the entire contents of their desks home. This way, they would have everything they need for online learning. Fortunately, as Westridge went further in the year, they could leave more of their things at school.

Read entire article >

Valley High School Class of 2021 Graduation

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Walnut Creek Class of 2021 Graduation

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WDMCS: School is out for summer! See you Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021

A Few Final Reminders

Register for 2021-22 WDMCS Transportation Services

Take advantage of school bus transportation for your student(s) by registering now for the 2021-22 school year. It is required for every student who plans to ride on the bus to register each year.

School/Community Relations

Laine Mendenhall-Buck

Alexandra Wade


Aaron Young