Two East Brunswick Girl Scouts learned first-hand this summer that painting is both an art and a science.
In their attempts to earn a Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn, Jessica Sapia and Julianna Illenye, both 14, painted a map of the United States on the blacktop behind the Lawrence Brook Elementary School in East Brunswick, a feat that required a great deal of planning and forethought the girls said.
“We never did something this big, and outside, and permanent,” Sapia said.
“I think it was a really nice learning experience–learning how to plan things out, and having to deal with the weather, and organizing things that we need and when we’re going to do things, and also learning the scales on painting and really just learning about art,” Illenye added.
Over the course of a few months, Sapia and Illenye spray painted dots in the outline of the state borders using a stencil provided by the school, connected these dots, and then painted within the lines to form a large map of the United States.
Weather became an important factor in the execution of their project, since the paint would only adhere to the blacktop if the surface was above 60 degrees. The girls learned, however, that the blacktop surface took longer to heat than the outdoor weather.
Sapia and Illenye soon realized the optimal time of day to paint was the morning, since the summer sun quickly drove temperatures too high for painting. When the blacktop became too hot, the paint would bubble on the surface and not adhere properly.
In addition to the U.S. map, the girls are in the process of painting a map of the world, which they hope to complete within the next few months.
Sapia and Illenye, who joined the Girl Scouts in kindergarten as Daisies and are now entering their freshman year at East Brunswick High School, said they have continued as Girl Scouts over the years because it is fun, educational, and a great opportunity to help others. Working towards their Silver Award was one opportunity to encompass all that.
Illenye said their elementary school principal asked if the outgoing students could paint the maps, since the school had a previously-existing map of the United States, which was paved over during construction several years ago.
Sapia said when she was in third grade she used to enjoy playing on the map. It was an important way for students to learn geography in school, and Illenye said she was disappointed their younger siblings would not have the opportunity to learn the way she and Sapia had.
“When the principal gave us this opportunity to do it, we said, ‘ok, that’s great,’ because we want all the rest of the kids, the future students, to be able to enjoy it, and all the families that go to the park,” Sapia said.
Silver Awards are given to girl scouts between 6th and 8th grade as recognition for service projects completed that have a long-term impact and are sustainable.
“So, these maps, they live on because they’re permanent and stay on the blacktop for all the kids to use,” Sapia said.
According to Illenye, the maps can be used for lessons and during outside recess.
“Usually the teachers plan a lesson and then they go out and it’s more of a visual thing for them to see, and students can get a better idea of where things are placed and how the world is really planned out,” she said.
The girls said they are extremely grateful to be able to give back to their elementary school and future generations, and especially thankful for the local support they received to do so.
After approaching several local hardware locations for support, the girls received sponsorship from Sherwin Williams, who donated more than $600 worth of supplies. Illenye said they gave the paint supply store a list of what they needed to complete their project and Sherwin Williams provided them with everything on their list.
“We were really thankful for that,” Illenye said. “I don’t think we could have done this project because of how expensive it was to buy all the paint, so we’re really thankful that they donated everything.”
To show their gratitude for the supplies, the girls will present a plaque to managers from Sherwin Williams at a ribbon cutting ceremony today. The ceremony will be held at the elementary school at 4 p.m. and will also include a presentation by the students, as well as homemade refreshments afterwards. All are welcome to attend.