When Chris Stanton’s Scout Troop was brainstorming sites for Eagle Scout projects, he knew of a school in Uptown that could use some help. Stanton reached out to the principal of Notre Dame School and asked if she had any projects that might work for his rising Eagle Scouts.
“One conversation led to another and we scoped seven projects around the school and let the boys choose which project they wanted to manage,” stated Stanton. Stanton has served in many roles in Scouts and is currently an Eagle Scout Coordinator.
Notre Dame School of Dallas serves 160 students with developmental disabilities. The school must raise over $1.5 million every year to support its operating budget. There is not a line item for school beautification. Every dollar goes to paying staff and offering an outstanding special education for students who otherwise would not be able to afford such a program.
“Through our family’s philanthropic foundation, I was very familiar with Notre Dame School of Dallas. My mother-in-law, Bonnie Strauss, served on Notre Dame’s board for many years and we really appreciate what NDS offers to children with special needs. I also have an older nephew with special needs that lives out of state, so Notre Dame School is very near and dear to my heart. I only wish my nephew lived in the DFW area, so he too could have benefited from such an outstanding institution like Notre Dame School,” stated Stanton.
Over the past 12 months, Scouts from Troop 815 chartered out of Trinity Christian Academy have completed numerous projects at Notre Dame School. From complete redesign of overgrown flower beds, to building a safe fence for the playground that serves the youngest students at Notre Dame School, the projects continued to add up.
After discussions with the principal, Theresa Francis, and assistant principal, Carmen Fernandez, Troop 815 chose seven different projects.
Grant Winslow, a graduating Senior, built five wooden benches for two playgrounds. Two of the benches have seats that lift to store sandbox toys and balls. Further beautification of the Primary school playground led Jad Sewaiseh to remove old sand from a playground sandbox that was littered with dirt and debris and fill the sandbox with fresh sand.
“When the students returned from break and found fresh sand in the sandbox, they were overjoyed,” stated principal Francis. “It’s the little things that mean a lot to a six-year old child and it’s hard to beat fresh sand.”
A fence that protected the Primary playground was old and decaying. Scout Dominic Gluskin took on this project. With the help of fellow Scouts, Gluskin removed the old fence and replaced it with pre-treated cedar fence panels and a new gate with a locking mechanism.
The next project was led by Chris Stanton’s son. “My son, Luke, chose a project that really spoke to his heart. Luke comes from a family that encourages music as part of their overall learning and development. Luke, as well as his two older sisters, are accomplished musicians. Because of his love for music, Luke chose to build an outdoor musical playground comprised of a quartet of percussion instruments, so that students at Notre Dame could enjoy music as well,” explained Stanton.
Michael Heidelbaugh, a graduating Senior from Trinity Christian Academy, took the project of renovating an overgrown flowerbed along Allen Street that housed a new sign for Notre Dame School. Heidelbaugh, along with his parents, dug up old bushes and replaced them with drought-resistant plants. He trimmed up trees which brought more visibility to the street-facing signage.
Sophomore Collin Mayo and his team of fellow Scouts beautified the two entrances to Notre Dame School. Both entrances were power-washed and flower beds and pots were replanted with drought-resistant plants.
“These young men have made such a positive impact on Notre Dame School with their Eagle Scout projects. They gave our students and staff a school that looks loved and welcomes visitors. They gifted our youngest students a revitalized playground with fresh sand, benches and a sturdy fence and our less-mobile students can now make beautiful music every day with these amazing outdoor instruments. We are so thankful for their hard work and management of these projects,” stated principal Francis.