Peters Girl Scout creates outdoor garden, earns Gold Award

Published Jul 1, 2013 at 9:53 am (Updated Jul 1, 2013 at 9:53 am)

A gathering of green wooden benches sits in a small semi-circle beneath an oak tree near the entrance of Bower Hill Elementary School, thanks to Cecelia Allison, who completed the outdoor classroom project for her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Cecelia, 17, will begin her senior year at Peters Township High School in the fall.

The semi-circle is representative of the book, "The Hungry Caterpillar" and, although not officially dedicated until June 26, the outdoor classroom was used by the elementary students at the end of the 2012-13 school year, said Kelly Gustafson, Bower Hill principal.

“The K to three curriculum is based on some of the gardens,” Gustafson said of the surrounding gardens that overlook the new outdoor garden. “She fed right into the Peters Township curriculum. Some of the students snuck out in May and June and sat and read, or painted as the garden bloomed.”

Cecelia said she picked "The Hungry Caterpillar" as a theme because she “always liked the book, and it also included the gardens.”

To achieve the Gold Award, on the same level as the Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts, Cecelia’s Girl Scout Troop 51944 co-leader Mliz Held, said Cecelia completed 80 hours of work on the project, including 15 hours dedicated to leadership. She worked with younger girls in the community and younger Girl Scouts to create sit-upons and to paint decorative tiles that are strategically placed on the ground around the tree and benches.

While the outdoor classroom was dedicated June 26, Cecelia and perhaps two other scouts currently working on the Gold Award, will receive the official award at a dinner in June of 2014.

Cecelia credits her parents, Andrew and Minna Allison, with encouraging and supporting her, and family friend Grant Phillips with his expertise and hard work assisting her with designing and constructing the heavy wooden benches.

The benches are made of a water-resistant wood and are secured with concrete about three to four feet in the ground.

As to why Bower Hill Elementary School was selected for the outdoor garden, Cecelia said she attended the school and so did her brother Grant, 14. Her younger brother, Teddy, 8, is currently a student in the school.

“I’m extremely proud of her and she worked very hard on this project,” said her father, Andrew Allison. “She doesn’t have a lot of free time and it took a lot of time to get this done – a lot of time and effort.”

Grant said he helped to build the benches and to pour the concrete in the base, and yes, he is also proud of his sister. Teddy was also a helper who acted as his sister’s assistant.

Her mother is also proud of her daughter’s accomplishments for taking on, what Minna Allison called, “such a big project for the children to enjoy.”

For Cecelia, completing the Gold Award was just a step in life as she enters her senior year. In July, she travels to Peru as part of a service trip, and will begin visiting colleges. Plans for the future are not set in concrete, as are the benches in the outdoor classroom, but she hopes that her interests in science and language lead to a career in the service industry.

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