Caputo unveiled an outdoor instruction space in the back courtyard of Kingston on Tuesday.
Alexa Caputo is an excellent student at Cherry Hill High School West, having been named to the honor roll every semester for her first three years and owning a 3.8 grade point average when she began her senior year this week.
Caputo said her first school when she moved to Cherry Hill, Kingston Elementary, is a big reason she has become the student she is today. When she was younger, Caputo said she struggled to learn in a typical classroom environment and had trouble sitting still in class. Despite this, she said her teachers at Kingston were very encouraging and would sometimes take the class outside to help teach them in a different setting.
Caputo wanted to create a permanent outdoor learning area to give back to her alma mater. On Tuesday, Caputo unveiled her Girl Scout Gold Award project, four tables made of large construction spools. The tables were handpainted and placed in the back courtyard of Kingston Elementary, giving the school an outdoor classroom.
“We would come outside and sit in the grass in the playground because we didn’t have a place like this,” Caputo said as she stood beside one of the four tables she created. “This is a dream everyone had and I wanted to make it a reality.”
Caputo believes the area will help enhance the classroom experience at Kingston, giving students in grades kindergarten through five a chance to learn in a new environment.
“It’s more interactive,” Caputo said. “You’re in a different setting, it’s different than sitting in a classroom being bored on time. There’s sunlight, natural light, it’s just a different environment.”
Caputo is entering her 14th year as a Girl Scout. A member of Troop №30419, Caputo said Girl Scouts is the perfect way to give back to the community and her love of service is why she has continued with Scouting through high school.
“It’s something good to do for the community,” Caputo said. “My mom has always encouraged us to give back and Girls Scouts is the easiest way to do that.”
For her Gold Award project, Caputo used large construction spools she received from a University of Pennsylvania construction site for the four tables.
“My dad works there,” Caputo said. “When I was there one day, I saw them and he said to ask if I could have them.”
Numerous volunteers contributed to the project, including some of Caputo’s former Kingston teachers, members of her Girl Scout troop as well as Girl Scout Troop №30328 and a number of Kingston’s fifth-grade peer leaders. Each of the tables features a unique design and the Scouts and peer leaders who helped paint their tables left their own mark.
“We just all wanted to leave our mark in different ways,” Caputo said. “On our table, we left our handprints. When were in Girl Scouts, we used to make plates with our handprint on them so to leave our handprints, that’ll be there forever.”
Numerous school officials joined Tuesday’s unveiling, including Superintendent Joe Meloche and Kingston principal Will Marble. Also attending were Caputo’s former teachers at Kingston, who took a break preparing for the first day of school to check out the new outdoor instruction space.
“The last time I saw all of them, I can’t remember,” Caputo said. “It’s been a long time. Just to see them all here and supporting the thing that we all put so much time into, it’s a great thing.”
The Gold Award project took Caputo about 90 hours to complete and challenged her artistic and construction skills. Despite this, Caputo said performing service projects such as the outdoor classroom area is what she loves most about Girls Scouts. She encourages other girls in the area to get involved with Scouting and plans to remain involved with the organization as an adult.
“My kids will definitely be Girl Scouts,” she said. “It’s really taught me so many things from cookie sales to managing money. Things like this, it’s so good to see a community be brought together by one project.”