St. Cloud Students Spearhead Intersection Improvements

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Guns and intruders are not the only causes for concern when it comes to student safety. Two students at North Junior High School in St. Cloud recently devised an improvement plan that would help increase safety at a busy intersection near the school — and won the approval of the St. Cloud City Council.

The intersection at 29th Avenue and 12th Street North serves more than 14,000 vehicles a day, and is a main pathway to school for both students and staff. This is a bad combination, considering the intersection is missing a crosswalk button on the school side of the street, according to WJON Radio. Pedestrians instead depend on the green traffic light to be alerted of when to cross.

As part of the school’s Community Problem Solving (CmPS) team, Grace Fischer and Caleb Dirckx, both 12, came up with a detailed action plan to solve the problem. The plan included asking for intersection improvements, recruiting neighbors to serve as crossing guards and meeting with city officials to voice their concerns.

At the May 4 city council meeting, the St. Cloud City Council approved $16,000 in improvements at the intersection. These include creating a school zone within one block of both directions of the school, installing flashing lights on the pedestrian sign, painting zebra stripes in the intersection, replacing the crosswalk button and installing a countdown timer, reported SCTimes. All improvements will be completed by the time school starts this fall.

Council Member Carol Lewis told KSTP-TV that one of her classmates died at a similar intersection along 29th Avenue when she was attending North Junior High School, so she is glad the council finally approved the safety upgrades. Mayor Dave Kleis was so impressed by the students’ initiative that he made Dirckx an ex-officio member of the Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Board.

North Junior High School is one of two schools in St. Cloud Area School District 742 that are actively involved in the CmPS program, which was founded in 1974 to encourage critical-thinking skills, help students develop a vision for the future and stimulate creative problem-solving skills.