JHS Weekly Newsletter

JHS Weekly Newsletter  March 18-22

Attention Seniors
April 18th – 9:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Auditorium – Senior Class Meeting  All seniors will meet to learn who the senior speakers and junior attendants are, and receive updated valuable information about senior events for the remainder of the year.

Friday, May 24th  – 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Rehearsal for Graduation – Attendance is required!  All seniors are to be in the large gym at 8:30 AM. Caps and gowns will be handed out during rehearsal.  All fines must be paid before you receive your cap and gown.


Tuesday, May 28th  – 6:15 p.m. – Graduation Line up  – All graduates are to meet at the Bell Center Staging area at the north side of the Drake Knapp Center and be in their chair NO LATER THAN 6:15 PM.   Commencement is a formal celebration of our graduates’ accomplishments.  We ask all graduates to please dress appropriately for the occasion. No parents or visitors will be allowed into the Bell Center area before or after the ceremony.  All seniors will go back to the Bell Center immediately following the Commencement ceremony to pick up their signed diploma.  Parents will need to take photos of their senior in their cap and gown before arriving at the Knapp Center and are not allowed in the Bell Center.


Tuesday, May 28th  – 7:00 p.m. – Graduation Commencement  – The Drake Knapp Center, 2525 Forest Ave, Des Moines, is an air-conditioned facility.   There are 975 parking spaces within a block from the facility. Handicap parking is available on the east side of the Knapp Center in Lots 2 & 3.  Handicap seating is available on the west end on the top level or on the lower level behind the band.  No tickets are needed and there is not a limit to the number of family/friends that can attend.  This event will be Live Streamed at https://team1sports.com/johnston/


The director of facilities for the Knapp Center at Drake University would like you to know the following rules for their Campus: The Knapp Center does not allow helium filled balloons, beach balls, water balloons, spray cans of silly string, air horns, cow bells, or confetti.  All adults, visitors, and guests of the senior class must wait in the Knapp Center.  


Good Luck to JHS Dance Team Competing in Orlando this past week!!

On February 29, 2024,  four JHS students attended the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge at John Deere Financial.  Students heard from professionals in the finance and investing industries, and then got to take part in a fast-paced stock market challenge, where they competed against 43 other teams of four students from around the metro area, to turn $500,000 into the most money by investing in fake stocks.  Each minute of the simulation was a day in the stock market. They had to watch the “news” and make quick decisions as a team.  Our team was not the winner, but had a great time and learned a lot about diversification and investing in general.   Students names L to R:  Alen Sehic, senior; Adonawit Meshesha, junior; Jasmine Newman, junior; Melvin Akakpo, junior.

Congratulations to JHS senior Alex for being awarded the JUMP Scholarship by the

at the One Big Table fundraiser! The Partnership provides a $2,500 scholarship each year to a senior JUMP student. Alex and his mentor Tom have been matched in the JUMP program for six years. The JUMP Scholarship honors founder Barb Allen. #MentorMonday Photo Credit: Andrew San Photography

Some of the team got to spend the afternoon at Summit Middle School celebrating “Summit Madness” with the 6th and 7th grades, fun way to celebrate spring break!

Congratulations to Aili Tanke on earning Iowa player of the year

Congrats to Amani, Jenica, and Aili for being named 1st Team All State by the IGCA and to Aaliyah for earning 2nd team!!
Taking a victory lap! The school board tonight recognized the

team for winning the 2024 Class 5A State Championship! Head Coach Chad Jilek was also recognized for being named the

Class 5A West Coach of the Year. The team then gave Superintendent Dr. Nikki Roorda a gift — an autographed basketball and a copy of the winning state championship bracket. Congratulations! ⛹‍♀️


It’s been an exciting week of Mock Trial.  Johnston High School was represented  by eight teams this year.  Six played on Tuesday here in Des Moines. Two additional teams played Thursday in Marshalltown, due to schedule conflicts with the Tuesday regional.   All the  teams learned a lot, worked hard, and had  success in their endeavors.  While not every team is advancing to State, all students performed well and hopefully had fun in the process.

 Of our teams that played in Des Moines,  four advanced to semi-finals  on Wednesday. It was unfortunate that our two freshmen teams had to  face each other in the semi-finals, so there were only three teams that could advance from that round. The  semi-final rounds were hard-fought and challenging, but we were rewarded with the best outcome possible.  Three teams advanced to State.  The Marshalltown Regional was also a challenging experience, with one team advancing to State from that location.  

Johnston will be represented by four teams at the State Tournament in Des Moines March 28-30.  

All teams are listed below, in order of  grade level.  Those teams that qualified for semi-finals are in italics, and those qualifying for State are in bold type.

In addition to team awards, many of our players won Outstanding Witness and/or Outstanding Attorney honors.  Outstanding Attorneys are marked with *, and Outstanding Witnesses are marked with ^.  We had multiple players honored with both Outstanding Attorney AND Outstanding Witness awards.  

These results from Regional play showcase the strength of  the Johnston Mock Trial program.  We will continue our quest for the State Championship at the end of March.  

The Mockingjays, coached by Justin Allen

*^Audrey Allen, Captain

Maia Tecklenberg

Faith Kreps

*Grace Kreps

Lexi Peterson

Katie Carr

^Emma Iwamoto

Willie Zhao

Sarah Wetterberg

Mirabel Pinkerton

Mocked In, coached by Holly Bousselot.
*Courtney Sweet, co-captain

*Jackson Zimmerman, co-captain

*Maraya Wiltfang

David Zhang

Zak Haring

^Lucy Kiekhaefer

*^Harrison Burkhardt

^Amogh Jithendra

Henry Zou

Quinnlyn Schulte

Team Supporter:  Owen Ferguson

Marbury’s Mockers, coached by Jim Johnson  

*Caroline Throener ,co-captain

*Abby Harris, co-captain  

Amelia Holter

Milo Sanderson

Cecelia Freeman

Kristin Rutz

Luke Fongkhamdeng

Ena Basic

^^Margi Skinner

Jacob Grauerholz

Wheeler of Fortune, coached by Brad Price

Akshara Eswar, captain

*Lauren Wessling

Sophie Amspaugh

Paige Lehman

Ella Prince

Lucy Minger

Caitlyn Robertson

Henry Baker

Abe Prince

David Shi

Buick Skylarks

Kaylee Jones, co-captain

Sydney Maule, co-captain

Amanda Esche

Marissa Randall

Rey Dobson

Aravind Balaji

Zoe Mednick

Tessa Barker

Amazing! Watch Johnston’s Innovation show choir and Janni family as they were featured on 

 this morning. Kudos to everyone involved in this special performance and season. And thanks to 

 for featuring us! https://who13.com/on-air/seen-on-tv/scholastic-spotlight/scholastic-spotlight-johnston-hands-in-harmony/… 

Congress Qualification results
In the House:
Shreyas Shrestha and Alan Qi broke to the final chamber.
Alan Qi is the first alternate in Congress 
Shreyas Shrestha was one of the 4 individuals in the house to qualify for nationals. 
In the Senate:
Aravind Balaji was one of the 2 individuals in the Senate who qualified for nationals. 
Both Aravind and Shreyas are 2x national qualifiers in Congress!

What a night. What a year! Ending the season undefeated 26-0, as the 2024 state champions.  



With a 59-54 win over Sioux City East, our

team is heading to state! Class 4A quarterfinals will be at 2 pm Wednesday, March 6, #2 WDM Valley vs. #7 Johnston at Wells Fargo Arena.


Results from IFLs 
In prose:
Kathryn Fitzpatrick placed 3rd 
Ella Devine placed 5th
Emilia Kongshaug was the runner up
Paige Neighbors and Natalie Miller placed 6th
Ella Devine and Ella Devine placed 3rd 
Corley Blackford placed 5th 
In International extemp
Alan Qi placed 5th
Advik Bajpai was the runner up 
In Spontaneous Speaking
Alan Qi placed 6th
Advik Bajpai was the runner up 

In Lincoln Douglas, Jacob Grauerholz broke to partial octofinals where he won that debate to advance to quarterfinals where he lost. He ended up being a top 8 debater in LD debate. This is an amazing accomplishment.

In PF, Madeline Licht and Hudson Irwin broke to quarterfinals where they lost so they were top 8 in public forum debate.

Alan Qi and Advik Bajpai also broke to quarterfinals where they lost so they were also in the top 8 in public forum.

In Congressional debate:

Aravind Balaji is the IFL state champion in Congressional debate! He is the first Johnston student to place 1st in Congress at IFLs

Johnston Academic Decathlon Third in State!

Once again, Johnston Academic Decathlon team has come home with substantial rewards from
the State tournament! Cedar Rapids Kennedy high school hosted the two-day event, where
each student competes in ten different events: speech, interview, essay, art history,
economics, social science, music history, literature, math, and science. The theme of the
curriculum this year was Technology and Humanity.
Our team scored a total of 30, 298.3 points over those events, taking home the third place
In addition to our overall finish and individual medals, senior Decathlete Ava Thornton won the
Academic Decathlon Board of Directors scholarship. This $500 prize is awarded via a
competitive essay process, and will be directed to any location where Ava continues her
It’s been a great season, and we look forward to next year’s theme, The Changing Climate.
The state team is listed below, each with their individual awards.
Honors division:
Peyton Brown: Bronze in Music, Bronze in Math, Silver in Economics, Gold in Literature
Ben Cramer: Silver in Literature, Gold in Economics
Sophie Wall: Bronze in Science, Gold in Music
Scholastic division:
Jackson Lansink: Bronze in Economics
Reagan Zierke: Silver in Speech
Dima Al-Qasi
Varsity division:
Laura Thangi: Bronze in Speech
Syd Dennis: Bronze in Math, Bronze in Science
Lili Verzani
Joe Cramer placed 2 nd overall amongst Honors alternates, and won Bronze in Art, Silver in Math,
Silver in Literature, and Silver in Social Science

Team THOR, a community robotics  team that includes Johnston students, won the 2024 FIRST Tech Challenge: Iowa Championship and the Inspire Award and will advance to the 2024 FIRST World Championship, April 17-20 in Houston! Our two Johnston school robotics teams, the Disco Duck Bots and Atomic Narwhals, were both state division finalists. Congratulations!  by

and Becky Janni.

Support Spanish teacher, Mrs. Gray, through her cancer journey by purchasing a bracelet for $1. Bracelets can be found in Mrs. Palmers room or any Spanish room!” 

How to Play March Mammal Madness sponsored by JHS Science and Sustainability Club :

March Mammal Madness is an annual tournament of *simulated* combat encounters among animals answering the timeless question “WHO WOULD WIN?”

  1. Brackets are available outside room 222.  Brackets are due March 7th by 3:00pm to room 220.

  2. Fill out the brackets with the species name and NOT the seed number.  Seed numbers repeat for each division and those brackets will not be scored.

  3. Fill out the bracket legibly please and you may want to take a picture of your bracket so you can see how you are doing.

  4. Follow along on the bracket outside room 222 and online.

  5. Winners will get the coveted MMM Trophy and science bragging rights for the year.

Johnston High School FCCLA has successfully helped support Children’s Cancer Connection in Johnston in various ways this year. FCCLA members Halle Howe, Bria Fisher and Ava Christianson volunteered at the Children’s Cancer Connection Winter Camp where children with cancer and their family members can come to and participate in. FCCLA members also held a craft drive at the high school to help collect items for Children’s Cancer Connection to be able to provide craft kits for children at Blanks & Stead Children’s Hospitals. The drive was a huge success with collecting over 200 items to donate to Children’s Cancer Connection! We would like to thank all of those who participated in donating to the drive! #JohnstonServes

Three JMS FCCLA students and six JHS FCCLA students recently competed at FCCLA District STAR Event and Iowa Event competitions. JHS students Zoe Avon, Ava Christianson and Bria Fisher competed in Chapter Service Project Portfolio and all advanced to the State FCCLA competition. Halle Howe, Claire Moorman and Lucy Kiekhaefer participated in the Toys that Teach Iowa event and received 1st place for their Grocery Store Dramatic Play project. Meanwhile, JMS student Emina Mehmedovic received a Silver in Chapter Service Project Display: Canned Food Drive. Avery Hunt and Nora Lutter received Silver in National Programs in Action – Families First: Holiday Gift Drive.

Congratulations to Krish Gupta and his signing to play golf at Grandview!!

ONLY 7 DAYS until the

heads to Orlando for NDA Nationals! Good luck, Dragons! 

Potential Johnston Dance Team Member,

Tryout packet and registration for the 2024-2025 Johnston Dance Team is officially open!!

The Johnston Dance Team is recognized as an elite team statewide, regionally, and nationally. We have earned this through dedication, discipline, and hard work. Being a part of the team would mean you could perform at exciting events, make new friends, show your dance talent, and most importantly have fun!

Tryouts are open to current 7th-11th graders enrolled in the Johnston Community School District. Teams will be divided into Varsity and Junior Varsity. Eligibility for these teams are as follows.

  • Varsity – current 8th – 11th graders
  • Junior Varsity – current 7th – 9th graders


Please see the information below regarding the 2024-2025 Johnston JV & Varsity Dance Team Program upcoming tryout. This is open to current 7th -11th grade students.

Step 1: Click the link to start the application process for dance team tryouts:  Link:

Step 2: Review the Johnston Dance Team Tryout Packet and the 2024-2025 Bylaws and Agreement Form, this is the first item in the google form above.

Step 3: Attend the informational meeting for parents and dancer on Tuesday, March 19th, at 6pm in the Johnston High School Cafeteria, enter door 2.

Step 3: Attend the clinic on Tuesday, March 26th, from 5-8pm at Johnston High School in the gym, enter door 2.

Step 4: Attend the tryout/audition on Thursday, March 28, at 4:30pm at Johnson High School in the gym, enter door 2.

The tryouts are in March 2024, to be on the team for the following year, Fall & Winter 2024.2025. A scoring rubric will be used, and students that have a qualifying score will be notified on the night of Thursday, March 28, if they have made the team. JV & Varsity Dance members have summer camp and practices. JV & Varsity Dance is open to both boys and girls.

If you have any questions, please contact the Head Varsity Coach – Paige Meredith at

Paige Meredith – Varsity Coach – paige.meredith@johnston.k12.ia.us

Taylor Schrader – Assistant Varsity Coach

Haley Austin – Junior Varsity Coach




Attention all 10th and 11th graders.  Do you want to attend the Iowa Youth Institute sponsored by Iowa State University and World Food Prize Foundation.    Students who are interested in attending will research a global challenge related to food security and write a simple research paper.  All students that submit a paper will get to attend the Iowa Youth Institute and will be in the running for scholarships, qualifying for the Global Youth Institute and be eligible for international internships.

More information about the opportunity can be found in this Global Challenge informational document .  We will work with any interested students to complete the research and submit the paper. Email Ms. Howe sara.howe@johnston.k12.ia.us or Ms. Nsereko noreen.nsereko@johnston.k12.ia.us if you are interested in participating.







Johnston High School

6500 Northwest 100th Street, Johnston, IA 50131
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