Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award
Friday, October 25, 2013 • 5:00am
The sun was high in the sky and autumn leaves were falling from the trees. Recently staff, students and family members came together in the South Plainfield Middle School courtyard to celebrate the re-opening of its long forgotten greenhouse.
Built back in the 1960’s, and renovated in the 1990’s, the greenhouse had fallen into disrepair and had not been used by students in years, becoming a storage space for junk and overrun by weeds. In addition, the water pipes broke and the heater failed, making the greenhouse impossible to use.
So wasn’t it lucky that some Girl Scouts were in search of a project? Girl Scouts do a lot of fun things besides camping, like horseback riding, lazer tag, zip lines, and overnight trips. Among other things, their focus is leadership, friendship, independence, and philanthropy. Community service is another major part of the scouting philosophy.
The Silver Award is the highest award a middle school Girl Scout can achieve, preparing the girls to later earn the Gold Award in their high school years. These girls work in very small groups to spend at least 50 hours per girl completing a project that is original, sustainable and of service to the community outside of scouting.
To earn their Silver Award, Alexis Walker, Gabby Mine, Jennifer Christilles and Lindsay Benko, from South Plainfield’s Girl Scout Troop 65883, chose to renovate their school’s greenhouse and bring it back to working order. Starting the cleanup in September 2012, these girls had no way of knowing that Superstorm Sandy would come to town and do even more damage by blowing out panels in the walls and roof, exposing the interior to the elements. Within a month, the freak ice storm last October added further damage.
The girls recruited help from volunteers to fix the panels, the heater and the broken pipes. Working through the spring and summer months, they scraped, sanded, and painted. Now that fall is here, they weeded and planted flowers that will bloom year after year with hope that this greenhouse will be used by the students of the middle school long after these girls have moved on.
The girls would like to thank the following people for helping with this project: SP Middle School PTO and Board of Education, Mr. Ralph from Pritchard, John DiFabio from Cranford Plumbing & Heating, John Ritigliano, K&J Landscape Management, SPMS principal Kevin Hajduk, SPMS teachers Julie Zoleta-Montany and Mary Ann Miehe, former SPMS parent Linda Kelly, and former SPMS student Kenneth Quinn. Lastly they would like to recognize troop leader Madeline Christilles, and troop parents Christine Mine and Denise and Rob Walker for spending many hours helping with this project.
So now that their work is done, the girls invited the entire SPMS student body and staff to their ribbon cutting ceremony, at which they gave back this greenhouse to the students of the South Plainfield Middle School to use and enjoy for years to come.
For more information on Girl Scouts, visit www.gshnj.org.