Latest LPEF grants offer $41,800 to improve reading skills, promote space exploration, and more

The generous support of community donors will offer students at every grade level in La Crosse schools a chance to learn new skills and expose them to new ideas — everything from traditional Hmong music, to fly fishing, to simulated flights among the stars.

PaHoua Vang, a preschool teacher at Hintgen Elementary, receives her $7,985 grant from Amanda Westphal, chair of the LPEF Grants Committee.

Pre-schoolers will get a chance to learn math and science concepts by using a working miniature construction crane. High school students will improve reading skills as a result of expanded literacy support in all classes.

Funding for these projects and more are among 13 grants totaling $41,800, announced May 4 by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation. Among the projects: a $5,000 grant to kickstart fundraising for a major upgrade to the District planetarium. LPEF is assisting with efforts to secure added funding.

“This round of grants touches students at every level, from pre-school to 12th grade,” said Anna Prinsen, LPEF Board President and owner of Modern Crane Service.  “The collaborative efforts of District teachers, and the creativity, continue to amaze us.”

Gold Star Grants are selected for funding based on creativity, ability to engage students, and the total impact or reach of the project. This is third round of grants announced this school year by LPEF, with awards totaling $91,600. Here is a brief summary of the 13 grants:

  • $11,500 to provide amplification systems for seven classrooms at Hintgen Elementary School, making it possible for students in all classes to better hear teachers. Research shows the technology helps all students increase engagement and increase their understanding of directions given by the teacher. In particular, this will help as teachers continue to wear masks in classrooms. Recipient: Amy Oliver. This grant is underwritten in part by Independent Cycle & ATV.
  • $7,985 to buy Science, Technology, Engineering and Math materials for all District 4K classrooms to help young students explore, play and build curiosity about the natural world and the way things work. Recipients: Pa Houa Vang, Penelope O’Reilly, Jane Erickson, Cathy Leon, and Cathy Fuchs. This grant is underwritten in part by Modern Crane Service.
  • $7,500 to fund a workshop for all high school teachers featuring author Cris Tovani, a literacy expert and author of the books, “I Read It, But I Don’t Get It” and “Do I Really Have to Teach Reading.” Following the workshop, all teachers will incorporate added reading assignments into content area lessons, along with other strategies aimed at reducing the current two-thirds of students who are reading below benchmark levels. Recipients: Kim Butterfield, Kate Keeney, Ruth Baardseth, Alysha Feldkamp, Cindy Halter, Kristi Moulton, and Kevin Colburn. This grant is underwritten in part by the Richard Swantz Endowment Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation.
  • Students using the SkyExplorer system could fly through the rings of Saturn and see they are made up of particles of ice and dust. (Simulation from video produced by Ash Enterprises)

    $5,000 to provide matching funds toward a major upgrade and purchase of a $250,000 full dome projection system for the Central High School planetarium. The new learning environment will allow students to explore, wonder, reach and celebrate – not just in astronomy but in many subjects. Half of district students would visit the Exploratorium each year, with goals to increase student enrollment in science electives and to increase student achievement. Recipient: Chad Wilkinson. This grant is underwritten in part by Gillette & Associates CPAs.

  • $2,000 to provide matching funds to help replace outdated and culturally insensitive materials for students at Hintgen Elementary School. The leveled reading materials provide progressively challenging materials to help students move from one level to the next. Recipient: Lisa Gunnarson. This grant is underwritten in part by LHI, part of OptumServe.
  • $1,985 to expand on a Winter Guard flag and dance corps at middle schools (funded by a previous LPEF grant) and offers an opportunity for students at the high schools to engage in theatrical performances with flags and other props. Recipient: Jason Harden. This grant is underwritten in part by the Duane and Carol Taebel Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation.
  • $1,448 to purchase fly fishing equipment to introduce Logan Middle School students to the outdoor sport that they can enjoy throughout their lifetime. The class will be taught by the school’s physical education teacher and building engineer, an experienced fly fisherman. Equipment will be shared with other District schools. Recipients: Greg Heilman and Chester Janke. This grant is underwritten in part by the Dr. Gunnar and Mary Baldwin Gundersen Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation.
  • $1,259 to buy an inclusive technology program for use by students at Southern Bluffs, helping them with engagement, executive function skills (such as memory, sequencing and attention), communication, social interaction, motor coordination and visual skills. Recipients: Nicole Kuecker and Halla Ortery. This grant is underwritten in part by the Altra Foundation.
  • $1,000 to buy books as rewards for high school students who complete summer reading assignments in Advanced Placement English Language classes. Recipients: Kim Butterfield and Alysha Feldkamp. This grant is underwritten in part by the LPEF Rachel Gundersen Endowment for Arts & Humanities.
  • $971 to pay for printing cookbooks featuring recipes and drawings submitted by Southern Bluffs students featuring foods that mean something special to them. Each student gets a page in the book, which also will feature recipes from school staff. Recipient: Casey Scheuerell. This grant is underwritten in part by the LPEF Judy and Randy Eddy Sr. Fund.
  • $675 to buy traditional Hmong musical instruments to be housed at North Woods International School and provide training for district music staff to better teach use of these instruments and incorporate Hmong music into classes. Recipient: Amanda Wolfgram. This grant is underwritten in part by the LPEF McGavock Endowment for Music Education.
  • $262 to buy a free-standing board, along with an easily changeable sign, to improve communication and facilitate interactions related to outdoor playground play for Summit Environmental School students with limited ability to communicate verbally. Recipient: Laura Kish. This grant is underwritten by the Tom and Judy Sleik Family Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation.
  • $222 to buy a high-quality USB microphone, and additional equipment, to help Logan Middle and North Woods students improve the sound quality of recordings made in a virtual setting with school-provided iPads. Recipient: Elizabeth Becker. This grant is underwritten by the Judy and Dave Bouffleur Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation.

In addition to Gold Star Grants, LPEF provides other support for La Crosse schools, including Random Acts of Kindness to meet needs of students in areas such as nutrition, hygiene, clothing, and transportation. For more information, contact LPEF at 787-0226, or email David Stoeffler at: