La Reina High School student and Girl Scout Angela Valdivia, age 17, submitted two proposals for her Gold Award that were rejected before she approached Sister Carol Marie Papet, site director at Notre Dame Learning Center Preschool (NDLCP).
“At that point I was really frustrated and I felt like giving up. So after school one day I walked over to the preschool to talk to Sister Carol Marie,” Angela said. She had volunteered at NDLCP before.
“Sister Carol Marie told me she was trying to make a ‘soft space’ for the kids to play in. She wanted to make a place for them to roll around or just sit and read a book. I wanted them to be able to work with their hands to grow plants,” Angela said. She decided to build two large planter boxes for the prechool’s new grassy area as a means of achieving her Gold Award.
The Gold Award is the highest honor that can be earned by a Girl Scout, much like an Eagle Scout award. A Gold Award project must be sustainable (not a one-time service) and must require a minimum of 80 hours of work by the Girl Scout.
With the help of her family, especially her mom Francisca Juarez, Angela collected materials for the two boxes, some of which were donated. She had built planter boxes before for her own backyard, so she knew how to assemble them. Then she lined them with plastic and filled them with dirt.
“Compost will go in and be mixed with the dirt,” Angela said, “Then we’ll decide on the seeds and plant those.”
Angela was happy to help the Sisters of Notre Dame make their outdoor space more inviting. She has been in the company of sisters since she started seventh grade at La Reina High School and Middle School.
“The sisters have influenced me because I’ve been taught to be independent, strong and to push through things- and because of that I was able to get through my project,” Angela said.
After high school, she plans to attend college on a Navy ROTC scholarship and study biology on her way to medical school. The Sisters of Notre Dame would like to thank Angela for her service and wish her the best for her senior year.
This article was featured in the Fall 2015 issue of Vision & Challenge.