January 30, 2020
Former Birkes Elementary School students, from left, Julie Megason, Laura Ford, Arame Cisse, Gabrielle Byrne and Joie Phan completed Girl Scout service projects over the holiday break to complete their Silver Award. Now eighth grade students at Aragon, Labay and Spillane middle schools, the five redid the Birkes’ blacktop, repainting a faded map of the United States to go with painting four square and hopscotch areas, lanes under the basketball goals and a doghouse that doubles as a multiplication table.
Jan. 30, 2019—Five former Birkes Elementary School students completed Girl Scout service projects over the holiday break, helping each earn their Silver Award while also giving back to their former campus.
Eighth grade students Gabrielle Byrne (Laby Middle School), Arame Cisse (Labay), Laura Ford (Aragon Middle School), Julie Megason (Spillane Middle School) and Joie Phan (Spillane) gave the Birkes’ blacktop a makeover for their service projects, repainting a faded map of the United States while painting four square and hopscotch areas, lanes under the basketball goals and a doghouse that doubles as a multiplication table.
Birkes Elementary School students play during recess. Five former Birkes students repainted the blacktop as Girl Scout service projects. In addition, the scouts donated new four square balls, basketball, hopscotch bean bags and sidewalk chalk.
In addition, the members of Troop 16462 donated new four square balls, basketballs, hopscotch bean bags and sidewalk chalk.
“When I came to America, I didn’t speak any English and Birkes was the first elementary school that I went to,” said Cisse, who completed the two-color hopscotch areas. “I felt so welcomed there and it holds a special place in my heart. I had the chance to go back and make others feel special and happy when they’re at recess.”
The Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are designated as the highest awards in Girl Scouts. The Silver Award is available for scouts in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, with eligible candidates taking action on issues and creating positive changes in their communities. Members team together to experience a Girl Scout Journey, which includes creating, planning and executing a sustainable Take Action Project.
Labay Middle School eighth grade student Arame Cisse smiles in front of one of the hopscotch areas she repainted at Birkes Elementary School.
The makeover idea came during a camping trip as the scouts reflected on their time at Birkes.
“We were bonding and reminiscing about our time there,” said Megason, who completed the doghouse. “We talked about how the hardtop, which is what we painted, was kind of faded even when we were there. When we got back, we drove by it and realized that we could redo it for our Silver Awards.”
The scouts made a presentation of their projects to present to campus leaders and staff, who quickly jumped on board. The doghouse–Birkes’ mascot is a bulldog–even serves another need, as the house doubles as a large multiplication table.
Labay Middle School eighth grade student Gabrielle Byrne poses on the United State maps she repainted at Birkes Elementary School.
Scheduling became the biggest hurdle, pushing back the timeframe from the summer to the two-week holiday break in December and January. Scouts worked through the cold weather and worked on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
“What’s cool is they were saying they can go back in years and show their kids,” said Judy Megason, Julie’s mother, Troop 16462 leader and sponsor to all five service projects. “They worked so hard and it was really special.”
Aragon Middle School eighth grade student Laura Ford poses on one of the basketball areas she repainted at Birkes Elementary School.
Each scout put in approximately 50 hours of planning and executing her respective project. As a bonus, they added the equipment to make the surprise even more special for Birkes students returning to school on Jan. 6.
“It was like Christmas for the students,” Birkes Principal Stacie Everson said. “Giving back to the school that they came from is just a huge piece of building that well-rounded student. Not only were they excited to do it for their school, but it just shows their heart and how they’ve flourished into these wonderful young ladies and servant leaders.”
Current Birkes students have already made good use of their updated recess area. The projects will be sustainable as plans are already in place for the scouts to return if paint cracks or any area needs to be retouched.
Spillane Middle School eighth grade student Julie Megason poses on the doghouse she painted at Birkes Elementary School. The doghouse also doubles as a multiplication table.
Scouts has helped the five eighth graders remain close despite attending three different middle schools. Some have been together since kindergarten at Birkes.
“It made me so happy because I remember when I was there,” Julie Megason said. “There was an older girl scout troop that did another project and I was so excited and thought that one day, ‘I’m going to be that girl that gets to do something for the school.’ Now, we are.”
Spillane Middle School eighth grade student Joie Phan poses on one of the four square areas she repainted at Birkes Elementary School.