Jessica Peterson, a junior at Webster Groves High School, has her future in focus and a heart for other students who need a boost to fulfill their potential.

At the Webster Groves School Board’s May 13 meeting, she addressed the board on the subject of equity in athletics, and offered an entrepreneurial solution.

“I’ve talked to a lot of students at the high school about concerns and problems they might have, and a common theme that arose was inequality in our sports program,” Peterson said.

She said the district could increase participation in school-sponsored athletics if less-advantaged students were given access to equipment required for various sports.

“We don’t necessarily have a channel for our students to go through to get the equipment they need to play sports, so they end up just not participating,” said Peterson, who is herself a scholar/athlete.

She gave as an example lacrosse, which requires about $200 worth of equipment.

Peterson explained that after discussing her thoughts with Superintendent John Simpson and Principal Matt Irvin, she is considering opening a “sports store” that could be based at the high school that would make items like tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks, cleats and other sports equipment available free to students at various grade levels.

Peterson said she hopes to coordinate the sports store through the Thrive incubator program next school year when she is a senior.

“I’d like to start it as a not-for-profit business and help the community as a whole,” she said.

Questioned by board members about how she would acquire the sporting goods for the shop, she suggested encouraging graduating seniors who don’t plan on continuing in college athletics to donate their equipment.

“That could be one source, and we could open it up to the community to donate, maybe seek sponsors.”

Superintendent Simpson and the board congratulated Peterson for her idea, but at the May 13 meeting did not vote to provide any funding support for the effort.