Mendon Scouts leave gift to students - Catholic Courier

Mendon Scouts leave gift to students

MENDON -Laura Winterburger and Rachel Tubbs, both 17, noted they had to destroy some of God’s creatures so that children might learn about what he created.

The two Girl Scouts have been volunteer preschool catechists at St. Catherine of Siena Parish for four years. The girls recently coordinated about 40 adult and teen volunteers who rehabilitated the parish catechetical center by painting an office, a hallway and classrooms and by putting up curtains. In a corner of one room’s ceiling, they found a colony of ants, which Laura and Rachel said needed to be destroyed. One of their adult volunteers said, “the ants came marching out two by two,” and Laura added, “we squashed them.”

Actually, the ant colony was reputedly dispatched through the use of pesticides, but however the colony’s end came, it also meant the beginning of a room devoted to Genesis, the biblical book that contains the creation story. In the room, Louise DeWaters and her 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, aided Jill Bennett, 14, in painting a mural that depicted night turning to day over a landscape featuring various animals and plants.

Laura and Rachel said other volunteers painted biblical-scene murals in other classrooms. In addition to the creation scene, one room depicted baskets of loaves as well as fish to illustrate the miraculous feeding of thousands by Jesus in the New Testament, and another room depicted the prodigal son from the parable told by Jesus. Still another room depicted tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

Laura and Rachel said they tried to make sure the murals placed on the wall of a certain room corresponded with the lessons likely to be taught there. For example, they said, one of the second-grade classroom’s walls depicted a chalice and a host because second-graders are generally preparing for their first Communion.

Karen Zielinski, an adult catechist who teaches fourth-graders, painted baskets of loaves on the wall of one classroom and said such images would be useful in class.

“This is going to be so entertaining for the children, bringing the Bible stories to life, making it more vibrant for the kids,” Zielinski said.

“It’s not like we’re just sprucing up the room,” Rachel said of the rooms’ walls. “It’s a teaching tool,” Laura added.

The girls finished each others’ sentences repeatedly, a sign of their longtime friendship, they said. The young women put together the catechetical-center project as part of their efforts to earn Gold Awards, the highest level of Scouting achievement for girls. One of the steps they must take to earn such an award is leading -as well as participating in -a community service project, they said. However, Laura and Rachel stressed that they were also motivated by a desire to improve the learning environment of the children who attend catechism classes at St. Catherine’s.

“We’ve been teaching, so we wanted to do something that meant something to us,” Rachel said. “You get a good feeling knowing that you’re giving back to something you really, truly believe in.”

Both girls said they love working with the 3-year-old children they teach every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. They noted their small charges prefer crafts projects related to religion rather than wordy lessons about the faith. For example, they showed the children how to make “creation hats” that depicted the earth, they said.

“(The children) like having crafts that they made and can give to their mom and dad and say ‘I made this,'” Rachel said.

Meanwhile, the adult volunteers working with the girls on the catechetical-center project complimented the young women on their dedication to the parish.

“I think they’re just awesome,” Louise DeWaters said of Laura and Rachel.
“We’re so lucky to have these girls,” Zielinski added.

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