May news briefs

As the 2021-2022 school year draws to a close, WSS highlights recent news ranging from spring sports to prom.


Although West decided against starting the tradition of hosting a winter formal due to concerns of COVID-19 transmission, the upperclassmen were still able to enjoy prom May 7 at the Courtyard Marriott Rooftop in University Heights. It has been two years since West held a conventional prom, with last year’s event consisting of outdoor games on the football field and track in order to promote social distancing. With the theme of “Enchanted Garden,” this year’s prom ran from 7-10 p.m. At 8:45 there was a flashlight wave towards the Iowa Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, the planned waltz dance, inspired by Netflix’s hit show “Bridgerton,” was unable to occur due to technical difficulties.

COVID-19 update entering entering summer 2022

With the ICCSD dropping its mask mandate in early March and major airlines no longer requiring masks onboard domestic flights, there is hope that this summer will be closer to pre-pandemic normalcy. However, epidemiologists caution against this optimism. There are fears that a more potent variant will emerge, similar to how the Delta variant diminished hope of the pandemic waning last summer. With at-home COVID-19 testing becoming popular, experts are concerned that most positive cases will go unreported, leading to an undercount of COVID-19 cases across the country. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that a mere 7% of COVID-19 positive tests are being recorded in the US.

Spring sports summary

As the regular season for spring sports ends, teams are beginning to prepare for state tournaments. With a second-place finish at state last year, the boys soccer team maintains a 15-2 record, and Michael Nelson ’23 leads the team with 28 goals scored. The girls soccer team secured a win over Liberty and is 7-6 in the regular season. At the Drake Relays, West’s track and field team placed 3rd in the boys 4×100-meter relay (Rent ’24, Loveless ’24, Janis ’23 and Gudenkauf ’22), and Erinn Varga ’24 finished 6th in the 400-meter hurdles. The currently-undefeated the boys’ tennis team looks forward to another run at the 2A state title. The girls’ tennis team has a regular season record of 3-12. All season records were current as of publication time. 

Funding for Big Idea Hunt 2022 winners

The Foundation for the ICCSD awarded grants to two projects at West, which were winners of the Big Idea Hunt 2022. The music department won funding for a new Digital Audio Production course, which currently has 93 registration requests for next year. West High also secured a grant for the creation of a NESTT, Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training center, which will provide mental health services and help students develop coping strategies. Also funded by Foundation for the ICCSD, City High’s NESTT space is supported by research in trauma-informed practice to build a safe space for all students.    

Student government elections

Having planned this year’s homecoming, initiated the Green Bandana Project and assisted the Best of West Program, West High Student Government is active again, following a hiatus during the 2020-2021 school year. To implement the Green Bandana Project, Student Government handed out six hundred green bandanas to students for them to display their solidarity for those with mental health struggles. The Best of West service connects West students to peers who can tutor them in standardized testing, academics and extracurriculars. Student Government held elections for next year’s president and vice president on April 29. The president is required to be a rising senior and their vice president a rising junior. Jayden Shin ’23 and Cindy Wang ’24 won the election and will lead Student Government next year. 

Mental Health Awareness Month

The CDC estimates that over 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder within their lifetimes. Exacerbating this statistic is a trend of unusually high rates of poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. With mental health struggles becoming increasingly widespread, recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month is important. Mental Health Awareness Month is designed to destigmatize mental health, educate the public and spread mental health resources. At West High, both the guidance department and Student Family Advocates are available to connect students with the help they need.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

A recent state law in Florida, known as the “don’t say gay” bill, prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity from kingergarten through third grade. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation isn’t unique to Florida. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott issued a directive to Texan health agencies declaring that providing gender-affirming medical treatments to trans and nonbinary youth “constitutes child abuse.” In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that denying trans youth medical care is discriminatory and illegal. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that only allows people assigned female at birth to play girls sports on March 3. West’s COLORS Club hopes to wear and distribute armbands of the trans flag to display solidarity and to protest anti-LGBTQ+ laws, specifically the recently passed anti-trans legislation in Iowa.