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Wessington Springs School Foundation: the Value of Good Planning

Wessington Springs_group_photo_smallerWessington Springs Superintendent Lance Witte (pictured with a group of WSHS seniors), credits the entire community for supporting the district’s carefully crafted vision.When the Wessington Springs, South Dakota School District began a strategic planning process in 2009, it became apparent community resource development would be a key element. Involving more than 40 community members, the plan eventually included three strategies, of which the second was: “We will identify and promote utilization of community resources to enhance the learning process.”

Specifically, this strategy included the following objectives:

  1. Acquire a commercial wind turbine to support new and existing curricula, student career exposure, and district revenue.

  2. Develop and implement curriculum for online retail storefront.

  3. Explore, investigate, and implement opportunities for school and community growth.

  4. Explore and implement environmental practices to reduce our carbon footprint.

  5. Each grade will develop a sustainable project to beautify Wessington Springs.

Since the plan’s adoption, Wessington Springs Superintendent and The Cambrian Group Strategic Planning Facilitator Lance Witte reports all five goals were accomplished, as well as another important outcome: the establishment of the Wessington Springs School Foundation. The Foundation already has paid dividends. A downtown building has been donated for a student-run consignment store, which produces annual revenues of nearly $25,000, which go back into the community. These dollars, in turn, help fund a wide variety of community efforts.

Witte credits the success to an open and flexible community planning process. “We have an annual review of our strategic plan every spring, and we look at changes in our environment that might require modifications in the plan.”

Jim Beddow, co-founder of South Dakota’s Rural Learning Center and board member of The Rural School and Community Trust, believes the Wessington Springs effort is exemplary. “They understand the value of planning and acting upon a good plan. The results speak for themselves.”

Wessington Springs recent highlights:

  • The Wessington Springs School Foundation announced the establishment of the George and Eva Kleppin Scholarship.  The Kleppin’s children created the $52,000 scholarship fund, which will annually award two $1,000 scholarships to deserving students.  The fund is in honor of the Kleppin’s longstanding commitment to quality education.

  • Wessington Springs graduates who have returned to the area to pursue their careers were enlisted to share their experiences during a Career Extravaganza, held at Wessington Springs High School on Tuesday, December 20. The event was planned and hosted by the school’s Employability Class.

The project was intended to encourage high school students to get an education that can lead them back to their community in an effort to end the exodus of the area’s young people to larger cities.

Included in the seminar was 1986 WSHS graduate Jeff Burg, 1994 WSHS graduate Alex Dean, 2004 WSHS graduate Cam Christensen, and health information specialist Jewel Kopfmann, all of Wessington Springs.  To read more about this event in The Wessington Springs True Dakotan go to the following link: