Students pitch ideas to improve their schools over ‘Soup’

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– Area students are pitching their ideas to improve their schools in the La Crosse School District. The students had a chance to win nearly $1,700 dollars for their projects, through a collaboration between La Crosse Soup and other area partners.

The students from all three La Crosse middle schools first pitched their solutions to various problems to their classmates. They were then selected to move on to Friday’s event. It’s a way for these young leaders to learn what it takes to take an idea and turn it into reality.

“This is the second time we’ve done this but this time it’s a little bigger,” said Josh Court, executive director for La Crosse Soup.

At Central High School, there were about 200 teachers with the Western Wisconsin Educators Conference eager to hear what these young voices have to say.

“They see what goes on in this community and they see what can help. And that’s really what we hope happens here today,” Court said, of the students.

First up was a group of 7th graders from Longfellow Middle School.

“Girls have been requesting the dispensers for years,” said one End Period Poverty group member.

Right now, they have to rely on sanitary products left in a bathroom basket, which often is empty. Instead, they want to install tampon and pad dispensers in all five of the girls’ bathrooms.

“Girls go through this every day and it’s a problem that can easily be solved, ” said one End Period Poverty group member.

Then, it was Lincoln Middle School’s turn. The group wants to create a Black Student Unity group, mirrored after the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Black Student Alliance.

“We are trying to create a community at Lincoln Middle School, just like they did,” said one Black Student Unity group member.

They hope to bring in speakers and talk about current issues affecting the community.

“Bringing people together to understand each other and build a sense of solidarity,” said one Black Student Unity group member.

Last but not least, Logan Middle School had a different plan to improve the bathrooms.

“Our mission is to paint positive colors and murals on our stalls and around the mirrors,” said one Painting for Pride group member.

They want to leave inspirational messages and boost people’s confidence.

“We want our peers to love and care for themselves,” said one Painting for Pride group member.

Then it was time to put them to a vote. Audience members dropped tickets into bags with each group’s name to select a winner. End Period Poverty won the grand prize of $1,681 to start their project at the school.

Root Down Yoga gave $393 to the grand prize, while the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and the La Crosse Community Foundation together gave $500. The rest was raised during the event.

Through pledges from the La Crosse Community Foundation and La Crosse Public Education Foundation, the other two groups will also get $500 for their ideas.

While the group is focusing on their school, for now, they’re already thinking ahead to ways they can pay it forward.

“Hopefully we can find more funding to get it in every middle school girl’s bathroom.”