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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Powerlifting Nationals 2017

The 2016-2017 powerlifting season began in November like nearly every other season of the past decade: with the majority of the students attending tryouts to make their mark in Woodward Academy’s most accomplished sport. The history of Woodward Academy powerlifting goes back to 2003 when it was simply an organized extracurricular activity. Today, the team annually travels to the USAPL High School National Championships that rotates venues every year. To date, Woodward Academy teams have traveled across the United States and lifted in eight different states.
After a couple months of training, the team competed at their first sanctioned meet of the season at the Des Moines Invitational. All nine lifters who competed at the event qualified for Nationals during that meet. In order to compete at Nationals, all lifters must qualify, meaning they must lift the designated amount for their weight class in a sanctioned event. Their second meet of the second was held at Peru State in Nebraska, which allowed for the lifters to get good competition repetitions, but it was a non-sanctioned event. The final event prior to Nationals was the Woodward Academy Open, the Knights home meet in March. During that meet, 6 additional lifters qualified forNationals, bringing the team total to 15 lifters.
Everything centers around the team competition for the Knights, and at Nationals a team consists of 10 lifters who were selected from the pool of 15 qualifiers. The Knights had won the Nationals team competition since 2006 when they competed in Omaha, Nebraska, and this group of lifters looked to continue that streak. On March 29, the team boarded a plane for Scranton, Pennsylvania, this year’s home of the USAPL High School National Championships. After a day of rest, the team competed
on March 31.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Basketball Season 2016-2017

The 2016-2017 Knights basketball season was one of the most fluid in recently memory. The team started with a lot of solid athletes and potential, but the season is long and this year’s team saw more roster changes compared to other seasons. As a result, the team ended with a 10-12 overall record, but that only tells part of the story. By the end of the season, the Knights were much more competitive than their record represented, and that resulted in a great first round playoff win and some post-season honors for some of the players.

Reflecting on the season, Head Coach Dustin Sperling said “We dealt with probably the most moving pieces we ever have. We had a lot of kids in and out during the season and it was hard to build consistency. But different players stepped up in different games and that was fun to watch.” A lot of players were able to contribute this season, which paid dividends toward the end of the season. More players got good minutes in the middle of the season, which allowed different combinations of players to work together.
According to the coaching staff, how the team improved on fundamentals visibly improved throughout the season. According to Sperling, the team was always open to learning in practice, and this dedication allowed the Knights to beat a really solid Clarke Osceola team in the first round of the District playoffs.

Junior Ammari Johnson led the team in most offensive stats for the second year in a row. His 17.0 points per game was a slight improvement from last year’s number, but his name is now all over the Woodward Academy record book. He is now the career leader in five scoring categories. Armman Johnson and Jay’Quise Norton also got some post-season honors when they received honorable mention within the conference.

Ammari Johnson’s 2016-2017 basketball campaign was always going to be a race into the Woodward Academy record books. He led the team in scoring a year ago and looked to do the same this season as the only returning varsity starter from that year’s squad. With the season now over, Ammari’s legacy has been cemented as one of the best basketball players the Knights has ever produced. He currently owns school career records in total points, field goal attempts, field goal percentage, as well as 3-point attempts and 3-pointers made. Beyond that, he ranks second in free throw percentage and rebounds.
Basketball is not Ammari’s only sport. Earlier this year, he earned All-District football honors as a wide receiver, and has already transitioned to track & field. He was a state qualifier a year ago in the high jump, and in the second meet of this season, broke the school record with a 6’4” jump.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


What is it?
Neurofeedback is a computerized therapy technique that teaches the brain to change itself by helping regulate attention, mood, behavior, cognition, and more. In simple terms, neurofeedback is positive reinforcement for the brain. It teaches the brain how to be better balanced, improving alertness, attention, emotional regulation, behavior, cognitive function, and mental flexibility. The neurofeedback device measures brain waves and teaches the brain to make healthier patterns by rewarding the brain through sounds and actions from a video game. Once these healthier brain patterns are practiced and learned, the effects of neurofeedback tend to hold, at least for many problems. As someone’s brain learns to improve and better modulate its own regulation, medication can often be reduced. Sometimes, it allows medications that weren’t working well to work better.

The Process:
One or two small sensors are placed on the head. The sensors detect the client’s brainwave activity. The amplifier picks up this information and converts it into a signal the computer can understand. The therapist will then set up a plan on what the student needs to focus on for better regulation of themselves. Once a plan is instated, a student chooses from a series of video games that they will use sounds and visual stimulation to reward and stabilize their dysregulation.

New to Woodward Academy
Neurofeedback has been used for over 30 years clinically, with hundreds of thousands of training sessions and it is new to Woodward Academy. Therapists are currently training with the technique and plan to use this effective model with students this year. There are no known situations where a long-term, adverse effect has been identified.