by Moira Cullings
OVERLAND PARK — All it took was uPVC pipe, plastic shower curtains and a little elbow grease for the Boy Scouts at Church of the Ascension here to make the parish school a safer place.
With the pipe and curtains, the Scouts created shields that will separate students who are sharing a desk or table at the school this year.
“The pandemic is affecting us all and we all need to do our part,” said Matthew Wright, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Boy Scout at Ascension.
“The teachers have a lot of work to do,” he added, “and there was a way that we could help the school staff add an extra precaution to keep everyone safe and healthy.”
Matthew’s mom Becky is the principal at Ascension; his dad Steve is a Scout leader. It was Steve who asked Becky for ways the Scouts could help the school.
“She was looking for some kind of an idea of how to be social distancing during school,” said Steve.
So, Steve and Matthew went to Ascension to figure out an additional protective measure they could implement.
“Some tables will only have two students and there are some round tables that will now be able to seat four students,” said Steve. “Some of the other options were to have kids just sitting on the floor so many feet apart, which sounds uncomfortable to me.”
The pair decided shields would work much better.
On Aug. 15, Matthew, Steve and a team of Scouts spent several hours at the school constructing the shields.
Steve hopes their efforts will inspire others to volunteer in some way during COVID-19.
“Maybe something so small like this shield can make other people realize that there is something that can be done in a big way,” he said. “It just may require asking the right questions.
“COVID-19 does present us with all kinds of challenges. However, the Scouts are doing their best to still get out into the community and do what they can to help.”
Becky is thankful the Scouts spent some of their efforts at Ascension.
“Every precaution we can take is an important step in keeping our kids and staff healthy and safe,” she said. “The Boy Scouts’ efforts are a huge support to our community and we are so grateful for their time and service.”
For Matthew and his peers, they’ll count it as a Saturday well spent.
“I am proud of all the people that helped,” said Matthew, “and proud to be making a positive impact in the community.”