WSFEE Celebrates the BIG IDEAS Contest Winners

In January of 2022, the Western Spring Foundation for Educational Excellence launched the BIG IDEAS contest. The BIG IDEAS contest was a call to all D101 students to submit ideas that would follow in the mission of WSFEE, to enhance the quality and depth of education in D101 and provide students with unique learning opportunities.  Dozens of ideas poured into the contest for consideration.  After much deliberation, two outstanding ideas were selected, one elementary school winner and one junior high winner.

Alice and Sam Root of Field Park (second grade and kindergarten, respectively) submitted the thoughtful idea of a Buddy Bench to be set up outside of all of the elementary schools in D101.  According to Alice and Sam, “the Buddy Bench would be a colorful bench where someone could sit if they were lonely.  The bench would teach all students to be aware of others’ feelings.”  Keep an eye out in the coming months for these benches at Field Park, Forest Hills and Laidlaw.

The junior high winner was a group of students from McClure who had submitted an idea on behalf of the Be the Change elective class.  Students in this class – Kennedy Campbell, Alex Crossan, Sofia Garcia, Ainsley Grove, Erin Hanzlik, Betty Johnston, Mary Rose Kemnitz, Delilah Pawlowski, Chloe Russell and Sarah Wiggins – submitted the request for scholarships for their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.

Erin Hanzlik explains that the annual Washington, D.C. trip “is an opportunity for 8th graders to extend their learning while furthering friendships with each other.”  Delilah Pawlowski reflects, “We have helped each other grow into who we are today, and it seems really important that we all get one last chance to learn and have fun with the kids we’ve grown up with until we leave for high school.”  Chloe Russell notes that “the idea that some kids won’t be able to experience that alongside of me made me wonder if our Be the Change class could make a change.”

According to Betty Johnston, “Be the Change is a class where we learn about real world issues.”  Alex Crossan also notes that “this class is important because it is about taking action, which we learned the true importance of in the class.”

WSFEE is extremely excited to fund these wonderful ideas that will positively impact the students of D101. Jen Soncini, Chair of WSFEE, shares, “The Big idea contest was a fantastic opportunity for WSFEE to hear from kids throughout the entire district.  We collected some outstanding ideas and are thrilled to have the opportunity to fund a few of these.”

WSFEE continues to accept grant requests through April 30, 2022.  For more information about submitting a grant, click here.

Every year WSFEE funds grants born out of the BIG IDEAS of students just like you. Let WSFEE help bring your BIG IDEA to life!