Valley High School (West Des Moines, Iowa)

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Valley High School
3650 Woodland Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50266
Coordinates 41°35′17″N 93°45′14″W / 41.587950°N 93.753987°W / 41.587950; -93.753987Coordinates: 41°35′17″N 93°45′14″W / 41.587950°N 93.753987°W / 41.587950; -93.753987
Type Public high school
School district West Des Moines Community Schools
Superintendent Lisa Remy
Principal Timothy Miller
Faculty 109.70 FTEs[1]
Enrollment 1,996 (as of 2014-15)[1]
Student to teacher ratio 18.2:1[1]
Color(s) Orange and black          
Athletics conference Central Iowa Metro League
Nickname Tigers
Rivals Dowling Catholic

Valley High School is a three-year public high school in West Des Moines, Iowa, United States. The school hosts grades 10–12. It is run by the West Des Moines Community Schools. Freshmen attend a separate school, Valley Southwoods.

As of the 2014–15 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,996 students and 109.70 classroom teachers (on an full-time equivalent [FTE] basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 18.2:1. There were 378 students (18.9% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 84 (4.2% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[1]


In October 1895, the doors opened to the first established high school in Valley Junction at 415 Seventh Street (the site of the present Phoenix Elementary Early Childhood Center). Valley Junction's first graduation was held on May 31, 1901 with just nine graduates.

By 1916, the population had grown and a bond issue was passed for a new high school. Construction on the three-story $50,000 structure at Eighth and Hillside was completed in 1917.

In 1938, when Valley Junction changed its name, the school district changed, too, becoming the West Des Moines Independent School District. At this time, one high school, a junior high school and three elementary schools served the needs of the community. In the same year and thanks to a grant from the Public Works Administrations, a new concrete stadium was built just north of the high school on Eighth Street.

In 1962, 38 acres (150,000 m2) of farmland near 35th and Ashworth Road were purchased by the School Board for $116,000 as a site for a new high school. Construction of Valley High School was completed in four phases from 1963 to 1970. Valley became a four-year high school during the 1971–72 school year. Costing nearly $5.5 million, Valley High School stretched almost one-quarter of a mile from end to end. Also in 1971, Valley opened the Metropolitan Conference's newest and largest gymnasium. Additional classrooms, science labs, and other student spaces have been added over the years. The first year that the new school was open, it was used for classrooms for some sixth grade students and for the 9th grade year of the class of 1970. The next year, it became a three-year high school. The graduating class of 1975 was the first class to attend 4 years in the new building.


Valley offers almost 190 academic courses, including 17 Advanced Placement Program (AP) courses. Valley also has recently started an Honors Program, which is meant to be comparable to the IB (International Baccalaureate) Program. This program allows for highly motivated and advanced students to take college-level courses sooner than normal. Valley also has a "designated scholars" program, which allows students to specialize in one specific area of academics, such as math.


Valley's former Athletic Director, Steve Duncan, was named the National High School Athletic Director of the year in 2006.[2]


The Valley High School football team won the Iowa State 4A Championships in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2011.[3]


The Valley High School wrestling team won the 3A dual tournament state title in 2016.[4]


The Valley High School baseball team won the state title in 1955, 1995, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.[5]


The Valley High School girls' softball team won state titles in 1990, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2010.[6]

Girls' swimming

The Valley High School girls' swimming and diving team won the state title in 1974, 1975, in addition to winning it four years in a row (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008).[7]

Girls' track and field

The Valley High School girls' track and field won the 4A State Track and Field Meet in 1998, 2003 and 2006.[citation needed]

Girls' soccer

The Valley High School girls' soccer team won the 4A State title in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.[8]

Boys' soccer

The Valley High School boys' soccer club won the state title 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2016.[citation needed]

Boys' Track and Field

The Valley High School Boys' Track and Field won the State title in Outdoor Track and Field in 1942, 1955, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2017, and 2018.[citation needed]

The Valley High School Boys' Track and Field won the State title in Indoor Track and Field in 1951 and 1952.[citation needed]

The Valley High School Boys' Track and Field won the State title in the Pentathlon in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2016.[citation needed]

Boys' swimming

The Valley High School Boys' Swim Team won the 4A State title in 1984 and 2010.[9]

Boys' tennis

The Valley High School Boys' Tennis Team won the State title in 1985, 1986, 1993 and 2010.[10]

Girls' golf

The Valley High School Girls' Golf Team won the state title in 1968, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 3A in 1982, 1983, and 4A in 2006.[11]

Boys' golf

The Valley High School boys' golf team won the state title in 1976, 1989, 2008, 2012 and 2017.[12]

Synchronized Swimming (No longer sanctioned by IGHSAU)

The Valley High School Girls' Synchronized Swim Team won the State title in 1979, 1980 and 1981. It is now held as a club sport during the winter and spring.

Girls' tennis

The Valley High School girls' tennis team won the state title in 1993, 2A in 1994 and 2001.[13]

Boys' basketball

The Valley High School boys' basketball team won the 4A state title in 1993 and 2016.[14]

Girls' basketball

The Valley High School girls' basketball Team won the 5A state title in 2017.[15]


The Arts, performing, aural, and visual, reflect the soul of Valley's strong tradition of success.[citation needed] The study of Art History, Art Criticism, Art Production, and Aesthetics guides the curriculum in the Visual Arts Department.

The Valley Music Department was honored with the first GRAMMY Signature School award in 1999.[16][17][18] The 240-member Valley Marchmasters were selected to perform in the 2004 Tournament of Roses Parade.[17] In March 2007, the band traveled to Dublin, Ireland to march in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade.

In addition to the strong band program, Valley's orchestra has completed concert tours in Austria and Italy. In June 2007, the orchestra traveled to New York City, New York to play at Carnegie Hall as part of NYBOF'07.[19]

The school's Choral Department is currently headed by Connor Koppin and Haley Gibbons. The show, jazz, and core ensembles have performed in several national and international festivals from Carnegie Hall to Disney World, and received top honors at competitions throughout the country.[20] In 2016, Valley Singers were invited to perform at the North Central ACDA Convention in Sioux Falls, SD. Valley's two show choirs, Choralation (varsity) and Ignition (JV) have been highly successful. Choralation routinely places in the top three and receives awards for Best Band, Best Choreography, and Best Vocals.

Drama participants have been selected as Iowa High School Speech Association All-State performers and have received the All-State Sweepstakes Trophy, as well as the Critic's Choice Award.[17] The Drama Department is defending the All-State Sweepstakes trophy for the fourth year in a row.[citation needed]

The school newspaper is the Spotlight, a member of the High School National Ad Network. In the early 1980s, the Spotlight was named the best high school newspaper in the United States, earning a Pacemaker Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Additionally, many of the student journalists who worked on the Spotlight have received awards and other recognition from sources such as the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Los Angeles Times / National Scholastic Press Association, the Quill and Scroll, and the Journalism Education Association.[citation needed]

The school also has a high school radio station, KWDM, which broadcasts from 6am to 6pm, Monday through Friday. It is one of only two high school radio programs in Iowa and the only high school program in the state to have a fully digital production and on-air studio.[21]

Former Valley principal Vicky Poole was named Principal of the Year (2006) by the American News Teachers Association.[citation needed]

Mimes Performing at Valley's 2005 Winter Assembly

The Bakers Dozen is the school's Mime and Improv Troupe. The troupe started in 1969 and has been performing around the Des Moines area for over 40 years. The Baker's Dozen, or "BD" as it is more commonly known, is a student run organization, and currently consists of 13 members. They perform two official shows a year, along with various smaller shows around the community. The two annual shows are the Fall Nite o' Mime, and Spring Nite o' Mime. The troupe is known for its mix of traditional mime technique and topical subject matter, practicing what is known as pantomime.

The Baker's Dozen performs in Valley High School's filled Auditorium. Each show consists of about 20 skits, some comedies and others carrying important and meaningful messages. The shows also include the "Storybook" segment, in which the mimes use satire to poke fun at current events within the school and around the world. All skits performed are written by members of The Baker's Dozen and are then rehearsed for a week before the show, as lighting and sound is worked into every skit. Each member writes skits and votes on the skits in order to make the highest quality show for the audience.

Every year the senior members leave the troupe after the Spring Nite o' Mime, and the following year after the fall Nite o' Mime new "baby mimes" are chosen to replace the seniors. One notable former member is Peter Hedges, a Film director and screenwriter[22][23]


Valley High School won the 2006 National High School Mock Trial Championship, held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and more recently won the state competition in 2011.[24] Valley has a large selection of clubs for students to participate in.

The Valley High School debate team has won the Lincoln-Douglas division of the Tournament of Champions (debate), the debate national championship,[25] more times than any other high school in the United States.[26] In the 2015–16 debate season, they were in the top five programs in the country by number of Tournament of Champions bids and hosted a tournament with an octafinals bid to the Tournament of Champions in Lincoln-Douglas, the highest level, one of only eight high schools in the country to do so.[27]

Safe Schools[edit]

Valley, and the West Des Moines Community School District, are known for having and working toward a more open and accepting environment for people from all walks of life. Chet Culver, the former Governor of Iowa signed trailblazing legislation in 2008 at Valley that required all school districts to update their harassment policies, including gender identity, a classification which is frequently ignored across the country and across the world.[28] Beyond legislation, Valley and its district is active in enforcing their own policies and improving the climate for all students, best illustrated when Superintendent Dr. Tom Narak was the first recipient of the Kathy Collins Reilly “Courage in Education Award” which recognizes educators for courage and work for student equality.[29]


Construction at Valley was completed in 2008. Construction included demolishing the former east wing which housed language arts and social studies classrooms, expanding the parking lot, and building a new two-story southwest wing that houses the social studies, language arts, and visual arts departments. The school's media center was also demolished as a part of the former east wing and is now at the center of the school, along with the rebuilt administrative offices and counseling offices. More construction is planned for the near future, including a new auditorium.[citation needed]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d School data for Valley High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed December 12, 2016.
  2. ^ NHSACA 2006 Coach of the Year Winners, National High School Athletic Coaches Association. Accessed May 21, 2017.
  3. ^ "42 YEARS OF FOOTBALL PLAY-OFF CHAMPIONS", Iowa High School Athletic Association. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  4. ^ Cuellar, Chris. "State wrestling dual fields set as Valley, Southeast Polk return in 3A", The Des Moines Register, February 8, 2017. Accessed May 20, 2017. "Top-ranked Southeast Polk and defending dual champion West Des Moines Valley led the eight-team charge back into next Wednesday's brackets."
  5. ^ Past Summer Tournament State Champions, Iowa High School Baseball Tournament. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  6. ^ Softball State Champions, Iowa High School Sports. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Swimming and Diving State Champions, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  8. ^ State Soccer Qualifiers, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  9. ^ 2017 Swimming Stat Book, Iowa High School Athletic Association. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  10. ^ 2017 State Tennis Stat Book, Iowa High School Athletic Association. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  11. ^ IGHSAU Golf Records, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  12. ^ 2016-17 Golf Stat Book, Iowa High School Athletic Association. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  13. ^ Tennis Record Book, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  14. ^ IHSAA Boys' Basketball, Iowa High School Sports. Accessed May 20, 2017.
  15. ^ Staff. "Saturday at the Iowa girls' state basketball tournament: All the scores, stories and highlights", The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), March 4, 2017. Accessed May 20, 2017. "Champions were crowned Saturday night in 3A, 4A and 5A. Get caught up: Class 5A: No. 2 West Des Moines Valley 71, vs. No. 5 Cedar Falls 59"
  16. ^ House Journal: Page 1440: Monday, April 19, 1999, Iowa House of Representatives. Accessed October 31, 2007. "1999\732 Valley High School Music Department, West Des Moines – For being selected as the National GRAMMY Signature School."
  17. ^ a b c Valley Arts Home
  18. ^ Valley Arts: Band
  19. ^ Valley Arts: Orchestra
  20. ^ Valley Arts: Vocal Music
  21. ^ Valley Activities: KWDM
  22. ^ Hedges, Peter. "What's in a Name". Blog. Peter Hedges. Retrieved Feb 3, 2010. 
  23. ^ Ahmad, Sophia. "Peter Hedges returns..." Des Moines Register. Retrieved Sep 10, 2010. 
  24. ^ Participant History & Past National Winners, National High School Mock Trial Championship. Accessed July 1, 2007.
  25. ^ UGC, Chicago Tribune. "Niles West Debate Wins Varsity Title at Recent Tournament". Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "". Retrieved 2016-02-18.  External link in |title= (help)
  28. ^ National Center for Transgender Equality: Home
  29. ^ News from Iowa Schools Task Force
  30. ^ Nailor, Seth. "Former coach thanks Simpson for opportunities". The Simpsonian. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  31. ^ Araton, Harvey. "ON PRO BASKETBALL; Pairing a Gray Fedora With a 3-Point Jumper", The New York Times, June 14, 1994. Accessed October 31, 2007. "That was when his son was a star at Valley High School in West Des Moines, long before the younger Bullard came to grips with his journalist's genealogy."
  32. ^ Jared Clauss profile Archived 2008-08-19 at the Wayback Machine., Tennessee Titans. Accessed August 15, 2008. "Clauss and former Titans starting center Justin Hartwig are both products of Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa."
  33. ^ "Player Spotlight: Justin Hartwig, Tennessee Titans" Archived 2008-08-18 at the Wayback Machine., Accessed August 15, 2008. "Following an all-conference and second-team all-state career at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, Hartwig was a three-year starter at right tackle for the Kansas Jayhawks."
  34. ^ Burns, Douglas. "'Dan In Real Life' Directed By Iowa Native Peter Hedges", Iowa Independent, October 24, 2007. Accessed October 31, 2007. "After graduating from Valley High School in 1980 and then the North Carolina School for the Arts in Winston-Salem, Hedges moved to New York City, now his home."
  35. ^ Birch, Tommy. "Sunday Stretch: Valley grad Dan Jennings helping Tampa Bay with playoff push", The Des Moines Register, August 19, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2017. "When Dan Jennings saw he had a missed call from Chicago White Sox senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn a few weeks back, he got excited about the possibility that he may have just been traded. Jennings, a former star at West Des Moines Valley, had never been in the playoff hunt this late in the season and was hoping to get the chance this year."
  36. ^ Dochterman, Scott. "WDM Valley basketball guard Peter Jok picks Iowa", The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), September 23, 2012. Accessed October 10, 2017. "As a freshman, Peter Jok once was the state's best-known basketball prospect in the 2013 class, and Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was there to recruit him.A knee surgery after Jok's sophomore year kept him from reaching his potential at both West Des Moines Valley and with his AAU team, and Jok fell out of the recruiting spotlight."
  37. ^ Stockdale, Nancy. "Silver lining: Shawn Johnson edged by teammate Liukin", Des Moines Register, August 14, 2008. Accessed August 15, 2008. "Johnson, 16, a junior at Valley High School in West Des Moines, has been the most consistent American gymnast since winning the junior national title in 2006 in St. Paul, Minn."
  38. ^ "Olympian Karlos Kirby Visits Phenix", West Des Moines Community Schools, February 12, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2017. "Valley alum and two-time Olympic bobsledder Karlos Kirby visited Phenix Elementary during its Wellness Wednesday activities Feb. 12."
  39. ^ "Twins owner, native Iowan, dies at age 93", The Des Moines Register, January 6, 2009. Accessed October 10, 2017. "Pohlad graduated from West Des Moines' Valley High School, moving in the 1940s to Minnesota, where he made his fortune."

External links[edit]