Book Reviews and Recommendations
In early November, the Ankeny Community School District received concerns around four books that can be found in some of our media centers. We immediately reviewed the board policy on objection to library materials:, the Reconsideration Request Form, and student handbook, where the reconsideration process is outlined on page 20. Additionally, we reviewed the process used by our teacher librarians to determine titles to add to school library collections.
The building principal and teacher librarians met with the stakeholders that expressed concerns about the books, discussed the issue, and reviewed the library material selection process. From those meetings, it was decided that the district’s teacher librarians would review the books and determine next steps. Receiving support from the director of curriculum and innovation all four of the books have been reviewed, and recaps of their recommendations can be found later in this document along with links to the full reviews.
Review Criteria and Considerations
When books are being reviewed several things are considered including:
- ALA’s Library Bill of Rights
- Freedom to Read Statement
- Controversial Materials
- Serve every single student; does not promote one point of view over another
- Cannot reject and remove a resource because an individual or a group has found the material objectionable
- Provide access to material that may be controversial to some patrons, while also providing a process to request reconsideration
- Selection Quality Criteria (School Library Selection Policy/Procedures)
- Support and enrich the curriculum and/or students’ personal interests, extracurricular activities, and learning
- Meet high standards in literary, artistic, and aesthetic quality; technical aspects; and physical format
- Be appropriate for the subject area and for the age, emotional development, ability level, learning styles, and social, emotional, and intellectual development of the students for whom the materials are selected
- Incorporate accurate and authentic factual content from authoritative source
- Earn favorable reviews in standard reviewing sources and/or favorable recommendations based on preview and examination of materials by professional personnel
- Nominated and/or received awards and honorable mentions
- Represent differing viewpoints on controversial issues*
- Demonstrate physical format, appearance, and durability suitable to their intended use
- Balance gaps in the collection utilizing collection analysis data
- Balance cost with need
Book Reconsideration Recommendations
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
After careful and thoughtful review and discussion of this title in its entirety, the committee decided to remove the book from all collections. The recommendation comes after review and discussion of several selection criteria. This title represents different viewpoints on controversial issues in a format that allows a variety of reading levels to access the information.
Although this book meets criteria of the selection policy, this particular book takes some different considerations. First, while in no way pornographic, the explicit visual and graphic nature of the graphic novel overshadowed the message to the reader, thus reducing the literary value as a whole. Often in books, people can skip sections or create their own images within their personal maturity level. In this case, however, the graphic images are already provided for the reader by the author and may not match a student’s personal maturity level. Additionally, the images are impossible to skip for self-moderation. Finally, this particular book was written for and reviewed professionally for adults. Read the full review.
All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
After careful and thoughtful review and discussion of this title in its entirety, the committee decided to retain the book in the collections at the 10-12 grade level.
It is important to remember that as a part of the reconsideration process, the entirety of the work must be considered, not just an excerpt pulled from the whole. While the parts objected to (the sexual abuse and first sexual experience) are explicit, they do not reach the level of obscenity as defined by the Iowa Code 728.1 and upheld in U.S. Supreme Court case of Miller vs. California. Furthermore, the objectionable part(s) comprise less than 5% of the total work. In the memoir, the author shares their life story, experiences, and overcoming adversity, as well as their own experiences with abuse and sex. In its entirety, All Boys Aren’t Blue has both literary and artistic value, having earned high and/or starred reviews from multiple professional review sources. Read the full review.
Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
After careful and thoughtful review and discussion of this title in its entirety, the committee decided to retain the book in the collections at the 8-12 grade level.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl deals with cancer, loss, and grief in a manner distinct from other books. The unique format of the multi-genre writing mirrors the main character’s personality and interests. The novel portrays both realistic and dysfunctional family relationships and shows how teenagers do not always know how to handle their emotions, and, in fact, that they do not have the maturity and/or skill set to handle difficult emotions like grief. Read the full review.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
After careful and thoughtful review and discussion of this title in its entirety, the committee decided to retain the book in the collections at the 8-12 level. This multi-award winning novel meets every single criteria of the selection policy for inclusion in the public school library, and most professional reviews indicate it as appropriate for grades 7+. Read the full review.
If you have questions about the review process or selection criteria, please contact Dr. Jen Lindaman at email@example.com.
Congrats Jaguar Cheer Squads!
Congratulations to the Ankeny Centennial Jaguar Cheerleading Squads for their state performances.
The Black Group Stunt Team, Lily DeBold, Ashley Simpson, Kelsey Taylor, Taylor Weaver, and Tessa Woerdehoff, were named the 4A State Champions.
The Timeout Squad placed 2nd, Fight Song squad placed 4th, Band Chant placed 4th, and the Silver Group Stunt Team placed 7th.
The Ankeny Centennial competition cheer squads are coached by Alyssa Howlett, Erin Blessman, Kaylee Brugioni, Emily Aukes, Kenzie Wyble, and Trinessa Handt. Congratulations Jaguars!
Board Recognitions – Oct. 19, 2021
Two Ankeny staff members were recognized at the October 19, board meeting Tuesday night.
Emmeline Hallum, Spanish teacher at Parkview Middle School, was recognized for her years of dedication in providing best practices instruction, valued PLC members in navigating and implementing new curriculum and differentiated instructional practices, and building high-value building culture through developing and inspiring student leadership.
Renee Potts, associate at Northview Middle School, was recognized for her work in starting and leading the student union at Northview, while providing meaningful meetings that include modern-day and societal topics and serve as a safe space for students to discuss topics relevant to them.
Congratulations Emmeline and Renee! Thank you for all you do.
Congratulations Holly Anderson, Middle School Athletic Director of the Year!
Congratulations to Northview Middle School Athletic Director Holly Anderson on being announced 2021-2022 Central District Middle School AD of the Year!
ACHS makes ESPN Honor Roll for Special Olympics
ESPN announced that Ankeny Centennial High School was on the ESPN Honor Roll for 2021 as part of it Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. Only 25 schools in the country received this honor. The Jaguar PE Teacher, Jodi Larson, puts in an amazing amount of time and energy into Special Olympics on behalf of our students. Congratulations to our PE teacher and the Special Olympics team!
Free Dental Clinics
The local program, Iowa Mission of Mercy (IMOM) is holding free dental clinics in the metro area. If you have students, families, or staff that would benefit from free dental care, please share this information with them. All patients seeking treatment at an IMOM local clinic need to schedule an appointment directly with the clinic.
IMOM Local clinics in your area include:
- Wednesday, October 6: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM @ 4444 Northwest 128th St, Urbandale, IA 50323 (515.278.4366)
- Friday, October 8: 7:45 AM- 3:00 PM @ 3830 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312 (515.274.5151)
- Friday, October 22: 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM @ Waveland Family Dental – 4232 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311 – (515.277.4461)
- Friday, October 22: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM @ Apex Dental – 725 S 51st St, West Des Moines, IA 50265 (515.224.1618)
- Monday, October 25: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM @ West Lakes Family Dentistry – 6800 Lake Dr, Ste 290, West Des Moines, IA 50266 (515.225.2424)
For more information about IMOM Local clinics, please visit their website , or contact 515.331.2298.
Centennial Marching Band Takes Home 1st Place
Congratulations to the Ankeny Centennial High School Marching Band! On Saturday, September 25th, they took top honors at the Pella Marching Dutch Invitational. With 19 bands in competition, Centennial was awarded 1st Place and Best Colorguard. Additionally, Nathan Neppl was named Best Soloist in Class 4A.
Centennial’s show this year is entitled “Through the Looking Glass”. It features music from “Alice in Wonderland” by Danny Elfman, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, and “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. Centennial’s band director, Scott Hook says “The students have done a tremendous job putting together an extremely challenging show this year. It is so much fun to see them succeed at such a high level!”
The Centennial High School Marching Band consists of 185 students in grades 9-12 and is directed by Scott Hook, Nick Rueckert, Janelle Hook, Mary Harris and Jake Thieben. They are assisted by Dr. Chad Lensch, Jerrod Lister, Zach McVey, and Olivia Klaas.
The band’s next competition will be at Valleyfest in West Des Moines, on October 9th. They will be performing at 11:00am and 9:30pm.
Updated Return to Learn Plan
The updated Return to Learn Plan that was approved on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, was neither an endorsement nor an admonishment of masks. The approved plan enables the district to follow the federal order and to avoid violating federal civil rights and disability laws.
Changes in the approved Return to Learn Plan are highlighted below:
The approved changes will take effect September 23, 2021, and will remain in effect through December 21, 2021, unless there are changes to the current law or further action by the board.
A new plan will be presented for the beginning of the 2022 calendar year.
Masks will be required for individuals age 2 and older, indoors on ACSD property during the compulsory school day. This includes students, teachers, staff, visitors, and volunteers.
Masks will not be required when outdoors on ACSD property.
Exemptions from last year will carry forward, and new exemption requests can be made by filling out the exemption form. Please note: The statement on the form, “A person granted a medical or religious exemption may be excluded from in-person school and school activities during a COVID-19 infection outbreak” means that having a mask exemption does not prevent a student from being told to stay home from school if they test positive for COVID. More information can be found on Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.
We will work collaboratively with families to make sure we are balancing the health, safety, and educational needs of all students in a classroom.
Our tracking and notification of potential COVID-19 exposure will be updated to meet the new plan. Communication about what to expect will be sent in the next couple of days from your student’s home school building.
By Wednesday, September 29, lunch seating for grades 6-12, will implement a process so communication-related to potential exposure can be more precise.
Find the full plan with more detailed information on the Return to Learn section of the district website.
Picture Retakes will be on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. This is for those that did not get their picture taken during schedule pick up or if they got their picture taken and would like them to get retaken, please bring in original picture pack to turn back in.
Homecoming Dress Up Days
Monday, Sept. 27–Comfy Day
Tuesday, Sept. 28–Tacky Tourist Day
Wednesday, Sept. 29th–Country Vs. Country Club
Thursday, Sept. 30th–Hat Day
Friday, Oct. 1–Jag Swag