Wilson Elementary fifth-graders sent persuasive essays to the district superintendent in November requesting new water fountains.

Teacher Michael Brock's class was surprised when they received a response back from Wauwatosa Superintendent Phil Ertl. Ertl wanted to visit Wilson and personally hear from the students.

In his first year in the Wauwatosa School District, Brock introduced his philosophy to the students.

'It doesn't matter if you're 10 or 11 years old, you can still make things happen,' Brock said. 'I asked them, 'What's one thing in this building you'd like to change?''

The student-written letters were part of learning how to write argumentative-persuasive essays, Brock said.

Brock's students applied skills such as providing evidence and considering counterarguments to their letters.

'Have you ever had to kneel at a drinking fountain for a cold drink only to find out that the water is warm and dirty? Well, the kids at Wilson do it every day. This is why we need our bubblers changed,' read the letter of fifth-grader Maddie Wojcinski.

'I know this may be expensive but if we do this it will save 22,722 plastic bottles of water a year.'

When Ertl visited the students before winter break , it was a very proud moment for Brock as a teacher.

'The kids were very very excited about it. They said, 'we need to be prepared in case we need to give a rebuttal,'' Brock said.

The students' arguments proved sufficient, and Ertl told them that new drinking fountains would be in the works. There's no timeline on the installation of the new fountains, as Ertl will have to present the request to the building and grounds department and the school board.

Empowering kids to change the world is a timeless lesson, Brock said, but especially in this day and age.

'They are so scheduled and scripted in their lives, and to find out 'hey, you still have power,' you're not stuck.'

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