April 1-7, 2004
Show of Hands
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Holy Cross Girl Scouts Spread an Uplifting Message Through Puppetry
Dewitt –– With some hand-made puppets and lots of enthusiasm, the Junior Girl Scouts of Troop 403 told a crowded room of young girls that each of them is special in God’s sight. The message came across in the form of a puppet show which took place on Wednesday, March 24 at Holy Cross Church.
Troop 403’s puppet show for approximately 35 Brownie Girl Scouts was based on the book You are Special by Max Lucado. In the heartwarming children’s tale, Eli the woodcarver helps his friend Punchinello understand how special he is –– no matter what others may think. “It is a nice story,” said Amanda Macri of Troop 403. “It tells kids that everyone is special because God made them.”
The puppet show was a rehearsal for the troop’s show at Cathedral School in Syracuse on Tuesday, April 6. The 20-minute show was the girls’ idea for their Girl Scout Bronze Award project. The award is the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can earn. To receive it, each girl must perform 15 hours of community service. “The Bronze Award is about helping people,” said Grace Man, who belongs to Troop 403. “It is our way to do something for the community.” While Girl Scout guidelines state that the service project can take a variety of forms, Troop 403 decided on a puppet show that reflects the book You are Special because of its vital message. “We could have chosen to do a lot of things, but we really liked what the book said about being special,” said Amanda.
The five girls in Troop 403 are all sixth graders at Holy Cross School. Their show was the culmination of over three months of hard work. Creating a puppet show from scratch was quite an undertaking for the troop. First, they had to put the book into script form. They also had to create props and learn lines. The biggest challenge of all was making the puppets of the five characters from the book, said Amanda. To get ideas, the girls visited the Puppet Hand Theater in Syracuse where they learned how to craft their elaborate cardboard puppets and move their arms and legs.
“It was harder than it looked,” said Troop 403 member Diana Wynyard. “It took a lot of time to put the puppets together.” The girls also added their own personal touches to the story. At different points throughout the performance, they held up signs such as “hooray” for the audience to chant. Audience interaction is important, explained Annemarie Wolken of Troop 403. “We wanted to get kids involved in our show because we didn’t want them to be bored,” she said. “If they participated, then we knew that they were paying attention to the story.” Each girl was responsible for a certain aspect of the show, ranging from scenery to laminating the puppets. They were amazed at all the time they put into the project. “We had to practice and practice,” said Maddy Leahy, who belongs to Troop 403. “Whenever we did it on our own, something would go wrong. When we perform it for others, it always goes good.”
Their service project has given the troop an opportunity to do something for others. At the same time it has taught them valuable lessons about friendship, self-confidence and cooperation. This is the meaning of being a girl scout, said troop leader Denise Wolken. “Girl scouts has exposed the girls to new and different things in the community,” she said. “It has also given them the confidence to start new things as individuals and as a troop.” The girls agree that their involvement in Girl Scouts has enhanced how they feel about themselves.
“It has taught me to believe in myself,” said Grace. “I learned that girls can do anything,” remarked Annemarie. The performance at Holy Cross received a thunderous round of applause and cheers from the Brownie Girl Scouts. The troop was happy their audience enjoyed the show, but, more importantly, they wanted to be sure the young girls got the message. The show was followed by a question and answer period. The Brownies’ responses proved they got the message. “God made every one of us special,” yelled out one young Brownie. The troop hopes that the students of Cathedral School will walk away with the same idea. “If everyone who watches our puppet show knows that they are special, then all our hard work will pay off,” said Amanda.