Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

076_Kurtz and McCombs Junior High Schools


076_Kurtz and McCombs Junior High Schools


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

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Kurtz Jr. High (Photograph) FACILITIES Staff Offices, Cafeteria and Kitchen Auditorium Seating 750 Double Gymnasium with Folding Bleachers Seating 700 Library Kurtz junior high in the mid-1970s finds itself with a sharply reduced student population. This is due in large measure to the opening of McCombs school to the south of them. The programs at Kurtz include the Title III Career Interest Student Survey as well as the Title II Rent-a-Kid program. They offer a student potential enhancement program at the 7th grade level. Their career education program is especially broad since it includes the following; Communication and Media, Environment, Public Service, Marketing and Distribution and World of Work Economic Education. Beginning in 1974 the school has a spring greenhouse project. This has been a dynamic arrangement whereby most of the* students at Kurtz are involved in this ecological movement to grow and sell plants. It has proved to be a unique learning experience that is being copied in other junior high schools across the city. The 7 period day allows all 7th and 8th grade students to have Physical Education every day and both boys and girls in the 9th grade to have Health class alternating with Physical Education. The nurse and a male Health teacher work as a team to plan and teach this practical course unique in Des Moines Schools. All 7th, 8th and 9th grade students receive First Aid training. All teachers and 9th grade students completed the Red Cross First Aid Course. The Developmental reading program provides daily reading instruction for 7th and 8th grade students. Independent reading, an elective for 9th grade, is taught by the librarian. . 8th Grade students operate the K Math Company. All aspects of an employee's life where money is concerned are covered including social security, taxes, wages, etc. Industrial Arts and Homemaking are coeducational as well as many Physical Education activities. Art in 7th grade, and music in 8th are offered every student daily. One of the most successful activities in the student activity fair which is held in the fall semester. Every department in the school presents a demonstration and/or sells a product made by students in that department. The project was planned as an approach to open house which had suffered declining attendance. It was very well supported by the community as a family open house involving students, parents, teachers, and others in the community. Principals of Kurtz have been: 1959 - 1965 Merle F. Schlampp 1965 - 1971 Donald Emanuel 1971 - Velma Cross McCombs Junior High School 201 S. W. County Line Road Grades 7-8-9 Dates of Construction: 1973 Principal 1973 - Wendell Miskimins McCombs is a modified open-space school. Some areas are semi-open and others are quite self-contained. The students have the experience of working in both kinds of situations as they go through school. The space is used to benefit the students according to the need of the individual child and according to the most satisfactory means of his learning the various areas of the curriculum. The goal is to help each student. Effort is made to find out at what level of learning each student is and to help him to go from that level. To accomplish this special skill groups have been established in language arts and social science. This is to teach the students what they do not already know or to teach them something new to them. In math the students are placed at the level where they are and where each one can succeed and move onward. The reading program is highly individualized. The groups are carefully selected. Some students do not take reading because they do not need it. There is a Skill Lab manned by volunteer parents or community residents. This has been successful.