Sunday, June 11, 2017

Neiko Morris Scholarship

On May 17, two Woodward Academy graduating students received the Neiko Morris Scholarship in remembrance of the former student leader on campus. Neiko was the perfect student for Woodward Academy: he was an excellent student, involved himself in student government, being an Executive Knight on his dorm, and participated in several athletic teams including the 2015 state basketball team.
Months later, he left us all with more questions than answers and gave us all a stark reminder the difficulties that many teens face. The statistics point to the fact that we are living in an epidemic:

Children aged 10 to 14, death by suicide is now more common than death from traffic accidents.
In 2014, suicide rates were higher than homicide rates for males and females of all age groups.
While suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among the U.S. population in 2014, it was the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24.
Earlier this year, Neiko’s parents reached out to Woodward Academy and offered the generous gift of a financial scholarship to a pair of high school graduates who plan to attend college. Moved by their sentiment, the Management Team at Woodward Academy decided to match that gift for those students to help pay for tuition, books, or other things they may need.
The questions of “why” these things happen will never go away and we all now have to live with the looming feeling that we could have done more with our time with him. These feelings are no more powerful than with his parents. His time at Woodward Academy mattered and his parents saw that in him. He was laid to rest in his Knights jacket, a sentiment that he is forever a Knight. We report a lot of student opportunities and success, and as a school we are very proud of those things. But Neiko proves to us that there is more work that can be done and we will continue to do that work.
This scholarship is a way to honor him and make a difference in another Knight’s life. The two recipients of the scholarship were Ammari Johnson, a standout WA athlete who plans on attending Iowa Central Community College, and Destry Johnson, who anticipates attending college in his home area of the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Class of 2017 // Video

On May 17, the graduating Class of 2017 was honored with a commencement ceremony in the WA gymnasium. During the 2016-2017 academic school year, 51 students either received their high school diploma or Hi-SET equivalent, which is the largest graduating class in school history. The event was the culmination of a life-changing path that the students decided to take while at Woodward Academy. Many would admit that graduating was an unattainable dream and something that was not meant for them. But now that dream is complete where no one can take it from them.

Many parents and family members were able to attend the ceremony and the gymnasium was loud. When handing out diplomas, Lead Teacher William Terry noted how it is often protocol to hold applause until the end, but said "At Woodward Academy, we don't do it that way." As he read off the list of graduates, the student section exploded as they cheered for their dorm mates, and there was more than a couple tears of joy shed from the audience.

Principal Cory Wenthe began the ceremony with an introduction, and Group Living Director, Trent Fleshner, announced that seniors Ammari Johnson and Destry Johnson were recipients of the Neiko Morris Scholarship, a generous gift from the parents of a student alum. Senior speakers included Darnell Green, who talked about when he first started contemplating his future was mid-sprint at a track meet last year, as well as seniors Casey Bynum and Destry Johnson. Keynote speaker, Mark Wills, had a great uplifting speech where he challenged students to be their best and reminded them that this day was not the last time they will graduate from something, and that committing themselves and graduating from anything is a good day.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Track & Field Season Recap 2017 // Video

The 2017 track & field season will forever be seen as one of the best in school history. No other group of athletes have embraced the team aspect of a very individual sport quite like this year's squad. Since the first year of the track & field program in 2007, Woodward Academy has a long tradition of excellence in the sport with a couple state champions ('07 and '14) and team district championships ('11 and '14). Neither of those things happened this season, but this year's team rewrote the school record book in more ways than one. 

"Overall, this was a really fun group to coach. What makes this team different than past years to me is their attention to detail in perfecting what they did. Whether it was a handoff, a hurdle, warming up for a race, or how they come out of the blocks, this team was very specific with how they trained and prepared for events," said Head Coach Shaun Mohon. This team adopted the theme of "meet the standard," and the team really pushed themselves and their coaching staff to embrace it every day. "This group ran with the theme and you could see it throughout their workouts, meets, and in day to day life as track athletes."

By mid-April, the hard work in practice was starting to show dividends in meets. The team got their first win of four, which tied a school record, at Central Decatur on April 11. They followed that meet up a week later with their second win at Van Meter. The winning pushed this team even harder in practice and they rallied around each other. They knew their end goal was to compete with the best in the state. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Weekend of Possibilities

Last weekend from Thursday through Sunday, over 150 students left Woodward Academy's campus to participate in school activities and community service projects across central Iowa. With the spring season here, the Woodward Academy student schedule is ramping up and students are having opportunities to get involved in a variety of ways.

The bulk of the travel started Friday when students from the track & field team traveled to Ogden High School, 18 miles north of Woodward, where they won their 4th meet of the year. Back on campus, a number of beautification projects were underway in preparation for the upcoming graduation and Open House events. Flowers were planted, shrubs were trimmed, and rock was laid as landscaping around several campus buildings.

The next day, students helped a local church in Madrid (6 miles east), others took care of little league softball fields in Perry (11 miles west), and others got an agricultural lesson when they helped out at a local grain silo just outside of Woodward. But the majority of students traveled north to Ames (29 miles) and the campus of Iowa State University. Fifteen students worked for Knights on the Move, the Academy's local moving company, and moved furniture for a sorority on campus, while 65 students helped ISU by working at Jack Trice Stadium during their commencement ceremony. This year, Iowa State had a record number of graduates (5,093 candidates), and Woodward Academy students provided their families and friends with concessions during the event.

For many facilities, juggling the track event, community services projects, Knights on the Move, and helping with the ISU graduation, could turn into a logistical problem when considering staff coverage and transportation. But for Woodward Academy, the more opportunities for students to get off campus and to engage with the community, the better it is for the students, and Woodward Academy as a whole. Our students consistently demonstrate what it means to be a Knight, and that is worth it. Go Knights!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


For many students at Woodward Academy, the path to graduation is not always the same or an easy road to follow. With a student population that is constantly in flux, getting students placed in the correct classes is a challenging endeavor. Students are being admitted and discharged at different points throughout the school year from many different states, and many have gaps in their credits, having received partial credit for classes in some cases. All of these variables add layers of complexity to class scheduling to meet graduation requirements.

New to this academic school year was the implementation and usage of Edgenuity: an online resource where students can complete classes toward high school graduation. Edgenuity is a self-paced, online curriculum, where students can login to their classes from any computer and work on them as needed. It meets the rigor of Common Core and state standards, as well as various state's graduation requirements.

At Woodward Academy, the usage of Edgenuity was never intended to replace classroom instruction. In fact, only a small percentage of students have taken courses through Edgenuity this academic school year. Those students were selected based on their transcripts, as well as their ability to complete coursework independently. Utilizing Edgenuity has allowed the education department to meet some of the unique circumstances that credits require. For example, a student this spring was enrolled in the short-term, highly structured program, and was expected to only stay 90 days. He needed a partial credit for graduation and was able to complete the coursework required through Edgenuity to get that credit. The student worked on the course during the school day, and because of his positive behaviors on the dorm, was able to supplemented that learning after school and on the weekends while on the dorm. For other motivated students, some have been able to complete two courses in the same amount of time it would take to complete one classroom course, allowing them to make up credits that they missed out on prior to attending Woodward Academy. Edgenuity also provides an abundance of elective courses that the school plans to utilize more fully in the future for students who have met the majority of their required courses and are on pace to graduate.

It is anticipated that the implementation of Edgenuity will increase as the need arises. It is already slotted to be used this summer as a credit recovery tool for some students in addition to the array of summer courses offered to students. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ISPRA Communications Awards 2017

Last year, Woodward Academy competed in the Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA) Communications Awards competition for the first time and scored really well, winning 3 out of 4 categories where we submitted entries. After last year's experience, we wanted to continue that expectation of excellence for our communications, but also knew that the competition would be equally as fierce from all school districts.

Of the 20 events, we identified 6 categories where we felt we could perform well, which included Brochure, Photography, Print Newsletter, Social Media, Video, and Website. As a local chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), it is policy that another state score the submissions based on rubrics, and this year the Arizona chapter judged the Iowa submissions.

The rubric for each submission looks at design, clarity and focus, writing quality, evaluation, and overall effect. When averaged together, if a submission scores between 7-8, they earn an Award of Merit. Scores between 8-10 earned an Award of Excellence. Out of that pool, submissions that scored 9 and above are eligible to earn the top honor: the Blue & Gold Award as the best in the state.

This year, there were 98 entries from 20 different school districts, the most ever for ISPRA. On Thursday, April 20, the results were announced and Woodward Academy once again scored well. Of the six categories, 1 submission received an Award of Merit (Social Media), and the other 5 all received high scores in the Award of Excellence range. Of those, 2 received the top prize of the Blue & Gold Award (print newsletter and website), and were recognized as the best in the state. This was the second year in a row that our Knightly Knews was recognized with the top award, and the website category recognized our newly launched site. You can see all of the results on the ISPRA website, and below is a recap of how Woodward Academy performed.

Iowa School Public Relations Association
Print Newsletter - Knightly Knews Vol. 38 and 39 - Blue & Gold Award
Website - - Blue & Gold Award
Photography - Cross Country 2016 - Award of Excellence
Video - Become a Knight video series - Award of Excellence
Brochure - Become a Knight - Award of Excellence
Social Media - Facebook Page - Award of Merit

Friday, April 14, 2017

Knightly Knews Vol. 41 is now online!

The latest edition of our award-winning publication, the Knightly Knews, is now online and you can access it by clicking here. As a .pdf document, you can view or download the quarterly publication to your computer, iPad, or smartphone for easy reading. This New Website edition includes:
- Knight's Bowl Dorm Challenge
- Basketball season recap
- New website features
- Powerlifting Nationals in Scranton, PA
- Knowledge Bowl
- Representing the Knights
- Sequel Leadership Initiative

We hope you have a chance to check it out and enjoy the read.