South Middle School YSYS

7th Grade Mathematics at South Middle School
The 7th grade Pre-Algebra students are busy working with scale factors by completing real world activities using construction blueprints.  Students are also measuring their own bedroom and furniture to create their own scale drawing of their room.  To take it a step further some students will be creating a visual representation using a computer program, “Google Sketch Up” to create a 3-dimensional view of their room.

On Friday, November 30, all Waukee South Middle School 6th graders and ELL students hosted two Lost Boys from Sudan.  Valentino Mathiang and Michael Abui Riang shared their survival story with the students.  The students have been studying a thematic unit with the text, A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by: Linda Sue Park.


One of our main learning targets for this unit is identifying themes and supporting details.  Therefore, we began with an anticipation guide that included a list of generalizations that connect to the themes.  It encouraged students to make personal connections to the text and to be active readers as they approach the text.  Examples of statements are listed below:

Man is basically good.

Water is our most precious resource.

Hope is our most precious resource.

A leader is born, not made.

Character is born of adversity.

Our goal was to practice and master many learning targets but to also give students a global view and appreciation of all the resources that are at our fingertips (like clean drinking water).

A few highlights from Michael and Valentino’s presentation include:

Michael sharing pictures of his experiences in Sudan

Valentino’s rap song, “I Can’t Stop Thinking,” which he performed for the kids

Several quotes to inspire the students:  “I Can’t Stop.” “You need to work to be where you want to go.” “Make the best of it.” “It’s only easy when you make it easy.” “We live only for today.”

Valentino and Michael ended with expressing gratitude towards the United States and the people who welcomed them into the Des Moines area when they arrived here.  The personal hope is that we have inspired students to find a topic or individual’s story they are passionate about and empower them to make a difference in their community just as others have for the Lost Boys.


The South Middle School Physical Education Department was awarded a Waukee Foundation Grant last spring.  The grant allowed the department to purchase a set of 10 TRX Suspension Training Systems that are anchored to the wall in the gym. Born in the Navy SEALS, Suspension Training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously.  This tool leverages gravity using the students own body weight to complete 100’s of exercises.   The students are in control of how much they want to challenge themselves simply by adjusting their body position to add or decrease resistance.  The TRX Suspension Trainer gives the students a total-body workout by building core and increasing muscular strength and endurance while benefiting students of all fitness levels.

8th Grade Science students were able to meet and learn from Mr. Chuck Kuba – owner and CEO of Iowa Diamond.  He visited our school all day long, sharing information relating to the minerals and gemstones content we were covering in class.  During his time with us, our students learned about where many diamonds are located and why, how to mine them, differences in the colors, and much, much more!  The best part is, Mr. Kuba brought along real diamonds and gemstones for our students to explore!  Mr. Kuba answered many questions and was a great asset to our regular science curriculum.

Pictured starting from bottom left: Jenna Weber, Sam Everhart, Steven Simpson, Brittiny Wills, Emma Schmidt, Grant Konig, Kelli Fogt, Chloe LaBounty and Tom Weible

 The 7th grade social studies classes have been hard at work, looking at the Middle Ages and the changing world.  Students were able to pick a topic or event that occurred during the Middle Ages to explore more about and present their final project to their classmates.  They became the “resident experts” on their topics and were able to answer questions.  After leaving the Middle Ages, we have been looking at the big changes in the world during the Renaissance and the Reformation.  Students are currently working on putting together information for our own South Middle School Renaissance Fair that will take place in our 7th grade pods.  It may not look exactly like a traditional Renaissance Fair, but we will, again, have our “resident experts” on hand to be able to explain more about their topics they chose and present their learning in their booths.  They will again have to answer the questions that their classmates will bring to them, but they will be ready!

The following Waukee South Middle School 7th & 8th grade students have been selected to participate in the South Central Iowa Bandmasters’ Association Honor Band on Tuesday Nov. 6. Auditions were held for the 8th grade students on October 2. The band will rehearse at Johnston High School during the afternoon and perform that evening. The concert is at 7pm in the Johnston middle school auditorium.

Rachel Bieker-clarinet, Mara Loftsgard-trumpet, Brynn Hansen-bari sax, Maggie Laird-percussion, Grant Whitaker-trombone, Christain Ertl-alto sax, Alex Ertl-trombone, Audrey McKinney-oboe

Your Students Your School-Sixth Grade Health-The sixth graders from both Waukee Middle School and South Middle School are studying nutrition and exercise as a way to prevent non-infectious diseases, such as heart disease and type II diabetes, and to live to our health potential.  Students are participating in activities such as tracking, analyzing and evaluating their foods for 24 hours, and are currently developing an exercise plan to follow and evaluate.  Students are learning their lifestyle activities can affect their emotional/mental, social and physical health.

Seventh Grade Health- The seventh grade health students at South Middle School are studying the importance of positive self-esteem on mental health.  Students will examine ways to improve their self-esteem and then work to apply those techniques.

Eight Grade Health- The eighth grade health students at South Middle School are studying the influence of peer pressure on mental and emotional health.  They are investigating the different types of peer pressure tactics and learning peer pressure refusal skills to help combat pressure that could negatively affect their health.

The 6th grade math students learned about various types of graphs including line plots, histograms, box and whisker plots, line, bar, circle and step graphs.  Students learned how to read, interpret and create these types of graphs.  Students in all math classes created graphs using excel spreadsheets, with data the students gathered in response to a statistical question.

Statistical questions included:

  • How many pets do you have?
  • How many minutes do you read/do homework each night?
  • Height of students.
  • Hours of sleep students get each night.
  • How many jumping jacks/sit ups they can do in a minute.
  • How many sports each student plays.

    Eliza Frentress, 6th Grade Student at SMS surveyed students in 6th grade about their height in inches. She created the histogram below by entering her data on a Excel document.

South Middle School has been a very busy place to start the school year, we’ve had a lot going on in our building.  We started the year off by focusing on getting to know our students and teaching the expectations in our building.  We took extra time the first two days during advisory to get to know each other a little better through multiple activities and we also spent some time discussing expectations in the building and having students demonstrate both positive and negative examples.

Students have also been busy taking part in our one fundraiser we have as a building, our annual magazine sale.  Students, their families, and their friends again did an outstanding job of supporting our school while also getting some of their favorite magazines renewed.  A special congratulations goes out to our top two selling advisories, Roth’s Advisory and Bergman’s Advisory.  Last year this fundraiser allowed us to purchase iPads that are now available in every pod for students to use in their classes, helped support our homecoming mixer, and supported our building PBIS program.  Once again we thank you greatly for your generous support.  We would like to offer a special thanks to all our volunteers that helped us during the magazine sale, please thank any of these individuals you may know who sacrificed some of their day to support our school.

560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701