Superintendent’s Corner

shansonA Message From the Superintendent


Iowa Assessments

During the week of February 1, Iowa Assessments will be administered to students in grades 3-11.  We ask parents to make sure their sons and daughters get plenty of sleep and eat breakfast each day during test week.


The Dalí Quartet, a group of professional musicians, entertained our community on Sunday evening (January 24) with a repertoire of classical and Latin American music.  Many thanks to Beth Oakes, coordinator of the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program, for arranging this free concert.


Two new teachers have joined our team in the past month:  Lisa Sample has replaced Marnie Barnett as an ESL teacher at the elementary school, and Cayla Ketelsen has agreed to serve as a long-term substitute in place of Oscar Coronado who has returned to Spain.  In addition, Carmen Casarrubios Mendoza has arrived from Spain to serve as a Culture & Language Assistant at the elementary school.  Welcome, Lisa, Carmen and Cayla!

Despite the ads we have placed, we still have openings for coaches:  varsity girls track, varsity girls golf, junior high boys track (head) and junior high girls track (assistant).  Please contact the central office, or send an e-mail to Athletics Director James Laughlin ( if interested in coaching.  Please help spread the word about these coaching openings.

Welcome to the newest members of our Local School Improvement Advisory Council (LSIAC) members:  Ralph Cardona, Emma Conley, Jada Dalton, Gracie Danner, Kelly Daufeldt, Michelle Elizondo, Hector Garrido, Randy Guerra, Bobbi Jenks, Shawn Kivi, Luis Melendez, Dana Nelson, Bill Tharp, Lisa Wertzbaugher, and Megan Zalzala.  The LSIAC is a group of stakeholders who review achievement data and help us update and revise our improvement plans.  The next two LSIAC meetings are scheduled for February 29 and March 29, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the middle school cafeteria.  Pizza will be available from 6:00 – 6:30.

School Calendar for 2016-17

The District Leadership Team has constructed a calendar for the 2016-17 school year, which will be presented to the school board in February.  If the board adopts this proposed calendar, school will begin on August 23, 2016; if there are no make-up days for cancellations, school will end on May 30, 2017.  This calendar includes a week-long spring break during the week of March 13-17.  The calendar (known as draft #4) is available at our website: – click on “Faculty” and then “District Leadership Team (DLT).”

In December, members of our staff conducted a “scholarship day” for seniors.  Seniors rotated through various stations where they received help and guidance, such as how to write a scholarship essay.  The next task that staff members will help seniors tackle is how to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Six middle school band students auditioned for the Southeast Iowa Bandmasters Association (SEIBA) Honor Band.  Students had to memorize ten scales and prepare two selected musical etudes.  Congratulations to Amanda Cruz, Cooper Lovell, Max McLain, Laura Millage, Janey Gingerich, and Isabel Morrison for working so hard to prepare for their auditions!  Competition was fierce; only ten percent of the students who auditioned were selected to one of two junior high ensembles.  Special congratulations go to 8th grade student Laura Millage who was selected to the honor band on clarinet for a second year in a row!

Three high school students auditioned for the Southeast Iowa Bandmasters Association district honor band: Emma Melick (trombone), José Calderon (clarinet) and Juan Malagón (trumpet).  To prepare their auditions, students were required to master two advanced etudes and one solo, as well as memorize 12 major scales and one chromatic scale.  Students participated in two rounds of auditions, and only the top performers on each instrument were selected for the honor band.  José and Juan were each selected to the SEIBA Honor Band, which took place on Saturday, January 23 at Iowa City West High School.  They represented the West Liberty band program as they spent the day in rehearsals with a guest conductor, and performed a concert that evening.

Middle school band director Megan Austin raised over $6000 through to buy a new bassoon for the band program.

The show choir season has begun!  On January 9, Voices Unlimited (the WLHS show choir), traveled to Des Moines Christian.  They earned 1st Place Class 3A and a spot in finals, where they placed 3rd Runner Up.  Alyssa Schemmel was recognized as Best Female Soloist of the entire competition!  A West Liberty student had not received this honor at a competition in over five years.  On January 16, they competed at West Branch High School, earning third place out of five schools in Class 3A.  Kane Newsom was recognized as Best Male Soloist of the day.  Voices Unlimited also received the People’s Choice award and earned a spot in the finals that day.  The next performance by Voices Unlimited will be at Stars on Stage, the annual show choir competition held at WLHS.  Stars on Stage will be held on February 6; we hope to see you there.

Teachers Jackie Henderson and Jackie Buysse organized a geography bee for students in grades 4 – 8.  Fifth grade student Ruben Meraz joined sixth grader Jacobo Saucedo, seventh grader Chance Thrasher, and eighth graders Max McLain, Holly Mellick, Laura Millage, Caleb Ryan, Emily Varela, and Annette Salinas in the finals.  The winner this year was Max McLain, who will take a written exam to qualify for the statewide bee in April.

The top-scoring students from 4th and 5th grade who did not qualify for the finals participated in a junior bee.  Students in the junior bee were Danahy Zamora, Brynn Derby, Addyson Lehman, Lila Guerra, Christopher Palma, Brooklyn Buysse, Karla Velasco, Jacob Seering and Blaze Maas.

Over the Winter Break, we received more computers for grades PK-5.  The ELC received a mobile lab of 30 touchscreen Chromebooks, and the elementary school received a mobile lab of 25 Chromebooks.

On January 18 (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), middle school student council members and students from the high school Interact Club, participated in a day of service.  One group of students packed meals for Kids Against Hunger.  The value of the food was over $1000; it will feed approximately 4000 people in need.  A smaller group of students worked at the American Legion hall, cleaning and painting.  We are proud of these students who spent their “day off” as a “day on,” giving back to others.  Thanks to Interact Club Advisor Kelly Butcher and to Middle School Student Council Advisor Dan Stevenson for organizing this opportunity.

interact2 interact3 interact4 interact5 interact6 interact7 KidsAgainstHunger Packing



Steve Hanson
319-627-2116, Extension 1001