A Day at Valley

Two Post members spend the day at crosstown West Des Moines school, Valley.


Josie Talley

A Day in the Life at Valley

Josie Talley, Staff Writer

Required masks. Sitting during the pledge. A ukelele being played outside the attendance office. Five-minute passing periods. No morning prayer. A maze of hallways. 


Yes, Valley certainly is different from Dowling Catholic. The day began with the Pledge of Allegiance. Students were invited to sit or stand as an automated voice read the pledge. The entire AP Macroeconomics class was silent and seated. After the pledge, the tone shifted as Mr. Chappel spoke. Since Valley is a public school, there was no morning prayer.


“Hot Diggity Dog! Welcome to another day of economics. What could be better than economics?” Chappel said. 


“Nothing!” the class said. 


The class then continued as any typical economics class might. Dowling and Valley may not have too much in common, but classes were surprisingly similar. AP Language came with the pleasant surprise of books lining the walls along with a couch and chairs in the corner. The posters around the room were of particular interest since they aren’t something you would see at Dowling. They shared statements such as “#Vaccinated,” “Power to the People,” “There Is No Justice In A Racist System,” and “Vocalize Protest Persist Resist.”


After being met with an unexpectedly calm bell, the hallways were rushed with the two thousand five hundred students attending Valley. Passing periods were five minutes, and Valley is home to three separate floors. Lockers aren’t used, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make it to class on time. It was a rush to classes, especially ones on opposite ends of the school. Because of the lack of time, people can’t really talk to friends. The hallways are filled with students mostly with their heads down, which is a contrast to the lively halls of Dowling lined with groups of friends chatting at lockers.


Valley, unlike Dowling, offers “Gender, Race, and Culture in Literature.” This class was very discussion-based and felt appropriate for current society. They discussed a short story, and Biblical references and symbolism were discussed. It was intriguing to hear students attempt to recall and explain Bible stories and figures that they were unfamiliar with but ones that Dowling students could recall in a heartbeat. 


Following Latin class, which is ironically not at Dowling considering Ecclesiastical Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church, was newspaper class. Valley’s newspaper staff gave off similar energy to Dowling’s newspaper group, but the two are very different in terms of work. Valley publishes a paper copy monthly and has strict deadlines. Students have more leeway with what they can write about, particularly concerning political matters. Teamwork is highly important since each member relies on the others to get the issue done in time. Their issues of Spotlight are normally 15 pages and consist of news about Valley, opinion articles from the writers, the center and feature pages that vary by month, and the final pages that are dedicated to sports and the iconic voices of Valley. 


A disappointment of the day was lunch. Rumors abound that Valley serves Chick-fil-A, and it was a tragedy to learn that COVID killed that previous reality. Instead, lunch was walking tacos that, sadly, weren’t as good as Dowling’s. It was a surprise to learn that many students don’t even eat in the cafeteria, either eating off-campus, bringing their own meal, or not eating at all, which, after some research, is common at most public schools.  


The rest of the day proceeded as normal with AP Statistics and Astronomy. There was a group quiz in Statistics with a very relaxed vibe. A group of students actually were talking on the phone with someone during the quiz. Astronomy class was basically a gossip session since there was a substitute teacher. The day closed with the band marching down the hallways for the upcoming football game that night. The concern of getting run over by the band was mildly terrifying, but we made it out alive. 


It’s safe to say that a day at Valley was certainly eventful and eye-opening. Valley classes aren’t so different from Dowling, but plenty else is. From the pledge of allegiance to the five-minute passing periods to the confusing layout to the huge student body, it was quite an experience. The Valley guides for the day, Ben Alrichs and Alexia Williams, were very welcoming and protective of us sheltered Dowling students. 


Overall, Valley students didn’t seem all that different from Dowling students, but there were of course a few outliers. The main takeaway from the visit was that, although Valley and Dowling may be rivals, Valley isn’t as scary or different as potentially previously believed, and we enjoyed our time there.