How Can You Help Out During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has a lot of people stuck at home. Now that we’re several weeks into it, there are likely to be many people with cabin fever wondering what they can do to make a positive difference in what is an incredibly difficult time for our communities.

Even in a time of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, there are still many ways you can help out. Below are some examples:

Support local businesses that are still open

While “non-essential” businesses in our area are closed at this time, you may still be able to order gift cards online to give them some cash flow and help them stay afloat during the pandemic. Local restaurants can still operate with delivery or takeout service only. Ordering from your favorite local establishments from time to time will help them retain steady business.

Donate blood

You can still make appointments to donate blood at clinics, blood centers, and the American Red Cross. Reports indicate the nation faces a severe blood shortage, so anyone who is a healthy candidate to give blood could help save lives by donating blood or platelets. Blood donation is an extremely safe process, and the clinics that remain open for donors take cleanliness and sterilization extremely seriously.

Contribute to nonprofit organizations

Do you have a cause that ignites your passion? If you want to make a direct impact on fighting the coronavirus, there are many different organizations that have been set up to assist those affected most. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy will be able to recommend clinics in your area that could use your help. There are other nonprofit organizations that are constantly in need of donors, especially now, and your money can help make a big difference.

Connect with others

It can be quite difficult to go for an extended period of time without interacting with many other people, particularly friends and family members. Carve out some time each day to connect with someone via the telephone or video chat. This is especially important for your older relatives, who are probably even more homebound than you are.

Humans are naturally social creatures. That little bit of interaction can help people’s mental health during periods that are otherwise full of isolation.

Contribute supplies

There is a major shortage of N95 masks in hospitals and clinics right now, as well as a big delay in production to meet the demand. If you sew or craft, you might be able to find online patterns for masks that you can then contribute to healthcare facilities. The doctors, nurses and medical staff on the front lines need all the help they can get to protect themselves properly when tending to an ever-increasing number of patients. At this time in La Crosse County, you can drop off any homemade masks to Isle la Plume, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The La Crosse County Public Health Department asks that you place the masks in a sealed plastic container before dropping them off. 

We know that the pandemic is causing a lot of worry in our community. We hope you stay safe and healthy. Please continue to practice social distancing and, if you can help it, remain at home as much as possible.

6 Things We Love About West Salem Schools

As a proud member of West Salem Panther Nation, you know there are so many things to love about our schools and community. While we enjoy the benefits of a strong public school district every day, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on what makes our schools so special.

If we could write a love letter to the School District of West Salem community, here are some of our favorite things that we would praise.
The students
A school would be nothing without its bright, eager students. We were once students at West Salem schools, and know just how special it is to receive an education here. We’re grateful for the experiences students have shared across the generations. More importantly, we’re excited to see the new opportunities our current students are exploring!

The teachers, administrators and staff
Teachers are the heart of our schools. They dedicate their careers and their lives to ensuring generations of young Panthers are excited about learning and prepared for adulthood. Staff are critical to ensuring that teachers and students alike are supported in their learning. Administrators make the big decisions that keep our schools and district moving forward.

The volunteers
Students, teachers, and staff have an important job to do, but volunteers help because they want to join our mission. Community service is a central tenet of our district's values and embodies the Panther Nation spirit. We’re so grateful to those who choose to spend their time in classrooms, on campus, on the field and organizing events. So many of our favorite activities could not happen without volunteers!

Our community supporters
There are many area organizations helping to fund fantastic projects for students. They organize excellent fundraisers that not only benefit our community, but that are also just plain fun for participants. They set big goals for themselves and our community to ensure we’re always reaching higher to provide the very best for our school district community.

The Panthers
Who doesn’t love being a West Salem Panther? All of our students bring us so much pride on and off the field. Whether they are crushing our rivals in a game, competing in forensics or creating new art, volunteering in the community, or just helping out a fellow student, we’re grateful that they represent us so well.

Our alumni
We may be biased, but West Salem alumni are the best! We’re always so happy to see alumni from across the decades show their continued pride for our schools. Whether it’s planning class reunions or cheering hard at homecoming, our alumni sure know how to show current students the true value of our community.

There are so many people, places and events that make our community special. Some of them helped shape our youth, while others arrived later to benefit younger alumni and students. No matter how far you are removed from the halls of West Salem High School, you can still show some love and say thank you for all those wonderful years.

5 Great Benefits of Mentoring for High School Students

When you serve as a mentor, you can pass on your knowledge, wisdom, and advice to students as they learn and grow. More than that, it also allows you to give back to the educational institution that helped you get to where you are today. It speaks volumes about your character and can even help you grow and develop as a leader and professional.

Mentorship is something that’s valuable both ways. More than the good feeling you get from teaching and encouraging someone your junior, that individual is gaining access to a wealth of understanding and experience. Mentees often go on to do big things, thanks in part to the person who took the time to be their mentor. They may even go on to become a mentor themselves—creating a legacy of giving back.

How mentoring benefits students

For students, having a mentor brings with it numerous, long-lasting benefits. Let’s take a look at five ways West Salem students benefit from a mentorship:

1. Valuable guidance: Students gain practical, applicable advice that might not be taught in the classroom, which can be applied throughout their personal and future professional lives. They’ll enter college or the job force a leg up on pure classroom learners.

2. Meaningful relationships: Mentorship creates a bond that may benefit everything from professional networking to personal growth—especially at a pivotal time in a high school student’s life. A mentor is a guide for students facing uncertainty in their future and someone on whom they can rely.

3. Academic support: Mentees get one-on-one attention that helps them to better understand and retain information, while also connecting that knowledge to classroom lessons. They’ll benefit from more focused learning and a stronger grasp on content.

4. A path forward: Students get a better understanding of real-world expectations and applications, direct from someone who has experienced them firsthand. This necessary dose of reality will shape their understanding of the world outside the classroom.

5. An accessible resource: Mentoring affords students access to a crucial resource for development that’s not hidden behind a financial barrier. For students unable to afford tutoring or those disadvantaged by a lack of available programs, mentoring is an incredibly valuable experience.

For mentors, being able to pass along wisdom to a younger generation is a truly gratifying experience. We invite you to sign up as a volunteer and see for yourself the profound effect mentorship can have on a student.

West Salem Hosts a Successful Homecoming 2019!

It was an exciting week for West Salem students, staff and alumni, as the Panthers pulled out all the stops to show their pride during homecoming 2019. The big football game was Friday, September 27 — but that wasn’t the only homecoming fun in town. All ages had a blast joining in this fun West Salem tradition.

Check out everything that went down during West Salem homecoming this year:

Plenty of pride for the orange and black

This year’s homecoming theme featured classic television shows. West Salem students and staff kicked off the week with a series of TV-themed spirit days including Stranger Things, Friends and The Office. The week ended with Friday’s theme of Orange is the New Black, reflecting our school's colors!

The Friday pep rally included dance performances by students and had several silly skits featuring students, teachers and staff. Students previewed the evening’s action by participating in games pitting the homerooms against each other in friendly competition. 

Despite concerns about the weather, the homecoming parade took place as scheduled on Friday afternoon. Panthers of all ages lined the route with their handmade posters and pennants cheering the team to victory. Student teams and clubs were well represented along the route, including boys’ soccer, girls’ volleyball and show choir. The marching band and cheer squad led the parade. 

Bridget Peterson and Joanne LeDoux, administrative assistants at WSHS, served as the parade’s grand marshals. WSHS English teacher Laura Skemp-Deal rode in the parade as this year's Outstanding Faculty Member. 

High school students ended a stellar week by dancing the night away with their friends and classmates during Saturday night’s homecoming dance.

Panthers unable to stop the Spartans

Despite the excellent cheering section along the parade route, the Panthers were unable to defeat Sparta. However, there was still some good news for Panther football fans. If you’re an alum who has mobility concerns, West Salem has you covered. Thanks to student Abbie Cavadini’s Senior Exit Project, there is now a golf cart available for use at West Salem games. The golf cart debuted in time for eager Panther fans to use at the homecoming game.

Pick-up and drop-off is available at the Heider Center parking lot for football, baseball and track and field events. The golf cart is also available at tennis, softball and soccer games at the West Salem Elementary School parking lot. To request a ride, simple fill out the form here.

Homecoming is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friends and build new relationships with fellow alumni. We’re grateful to everyone who came out this year and made homecoming 2019 so special. If you weren’t able to make it, we hope to see you at an event soon.

No matter where you are, we hope you are showing off your West Salem Panther pride!

Small Ways You Can Be More Civically Engaged

There are many reasons why it's important to be civically involved, from contributing to your community in meaningful ways to the health benefits often found in those who actively serve as volunteers and on boards and committees of nonprofits and government agencies.

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