3 Alexandria 8th graders get $7,315 grant from Geneva Capital for school forest dock

Isabella Gwenigale, Kaylynn Fox and Alayna Waggoner were presented with a check on Monday, Nov. 28.

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Three students from Discovery Middle School in Alexandria, from left, Isabella Gwenigale, Kaylynn Fox and Alayna Waggoner, were surprised on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, to hear that a project they presented to Geneva Capital in Alexandria was fully funded. The girls received a check for $7,315 to pay for a dock system that will be installed in the school forest at Discovery.
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ALEXANDRIA — Three students from Discovery Middle School were surprised Monday morning, Nov. 28, when they found out their project was receiving a grant from Geneva Capital in Alexandria.

Isabella Gwenigale, Kaylynn Fox and Alayna Waggoner, all 8th graders, were presented with a check for $7,315.

The money will be used to put in a dock system in the school forest at the school.

Lucas Gotto, DMS teacher, said because of all the trails, docks, outdoor classrooms and community partnerships built over the past few years, there was an interest from students at Discovery to create a new 8th grade elective class called The Great Outdoors.

The class, he said, focuses on community partnerships from a variety of local entities to teach students about the great outdoors, which includes the back 54 acres of Discovery that was designated as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources School Forest site two years ago.


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Representatives from Geneva Capital, along with Discovery Middle School Teacher Lucas Gotto, stand with three students, front row, from left, Alayna Waggoner, Kaylynn Fox and Isabella Gwenigale, after they received a check to pay for a dock that will be installed at the school next spring.

As a project for the class, Gotto said the students were put into small groups and then they had to pick a topic that could enhance the school forest and leave it better than they found it so that students and community members could enjoy it for years to come.

“The project was called the DMS School Forest Community Engagement Campaign,” said Gotto.

The three students – Gwenigale, Fox and Waggoner – chose to try and replace a dock at the school as their project. Gotto said members from Viking Sportsmen and Pheasants Forever started “The Discovery Dock” initiative two years to help replace the aging docks at DMS and have replace three of them to day with the support of Carlson Docks, the Alexandria Elks, Alexandria Rotary, Viking Sportsmen and Pheasants Forever.

“The girls were passionate about adding another partner – Geneva Capital – to that list,” said Gotto.

Once their project was complete, he said they had an opportunity to present and pitch their idea in front of a committee at Geneva Capital.

Nearly two miles of trails through the Alexandria site are open for public use.

“The girls absolutely crushed the presentation and the representatives from Geneva Capital were incredibly impressed with their work,” Gotto said. “They were so impressed that Geneva Capital decided to sponsor the whole dock project.”

He said that the total cost for the seven section aluminum dock with cedar planking, which included a “nice discount” from Chris Carlson of Carlson Docks, was $7,315. Gotto added that this new dock will replace an old dock on the west/northwest side of the north football field and that it will lead out onto the biggest pond in the forest.

On Monday, Nov. 28, Gotto invited the parents of the students, along with representatives from Geneva Capital, to surprise the three girls with the check. He said they were “very surprised.”


He also said, “It's truly very unique to live in a community where the majority are so very supportive of our schools, students and staff. It's a dream job to coordinate these experiences, that hopefully, our kids remember their whole lives.”

The combination of white spruce and red pine trees were donated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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