Girl Scouts from Lake Highlands Troop 1288 took on a big project over Easter weekend – they painted activities onto the Merriman Park Elementary playground. The girls, all MPE fifth graders, updated the time-worn United States map, four square game, hopscotch area and maze. While researching the project for their Girl Scout Bronze Award, they discovered other options and added an obstacle course and a blank line for teachers to use as a number line.
Students at MPE were overjoyed with the new playground improvements, says Principal Katie Barrett, but I found someone 1,500 miles away especially happy with the girls’ work – Bradley Paterick.
Paterik, who also attended MPE, was an 8th grader at Forest Meadow Junior High in 2006 when he originally painted the map for his Boy Scout Eagle Project.
“Honestly, I’m surprised and happy to hear that kids are still enjoying it,” Bradley told me by email from San Diego. He’s currently stationed there while training as an officer and helicopter for the Navy. He’ll move on to serve in Honolulu when his training is complete.
“I remember deciding to make that map for my Eagle Scout project – they had just taken down the basketball hoops, so it was just a flat slab of concrete, and seeing other elementary schools with a U.S. map made me think it would be a good idea to give Merriman Park one. I’m happy to have left a positive impact on the school, and I’m glad there are kids there now who want to do the same.”
Eagle Project candidates are responsible for recruiting a crew, and Bradley’s volunteers included his younger brother, Brice (MPE), Max Hearst (FMJH), Robbie Liebendorfer (FMJH), Travis Smithheart (MPE), Jim Caldwell (LHJH) and Sam Mills (Lutheran High).
Lily Hollis, one of 8 Girl Scouts who toiled on the recent project, says her classmates at MPE now line up at recess to play Four Square on the refurbished grid.
“Our troop divided into sections while working, and my job was the maze,” says Lily. “My favorite part was using the stencils and choosing the colors. We painted stars on the capitals and had fun playing ‘the capital game’ with the other girls.”
Her troop, which also included Molly Cavanaugh, Erin Glasscock, Lauren Goin, Olivia Goin, Lily Heath, Katie Mata and Alli Truscott, learned about the continental United States and “how to use large stencils to paint the outlines of things,” says Lily.
The overhead photo, admits Lily’s mother, Lauren, was pure luck.
“I took the first shot, then we fell into a little bit of serendipity. There were some guys flying a drone just after we finished, so they very kindly took a drone shot for us.”
You can check out the map and activities yourself after school and weekends at MPE, 7101 Winedale.