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O’Hara’s students’ initiative benefits Cradle Beach


TONAWANDA — More than 125 students and faculty from Cardinal O’Hara High School stepped off the three busses at Cradle Beach camp in Angola on Wednesday, May 17 to take part in the school’s Day of Caring.

Sofia Dacois (left) and Cara Feeney clean out one of the Cradle Beach bunkhouses. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

They were joined by students and staff from Niagara University in a joint project, the first ever for Cardinal O’Hara.

Coordinator of the project, Joleen Dimitroff, Cardinal O’Hara’s principal, said, “In December, the students on my Principal’s Advisory Team, generated ideas to start new traditions at O’Hara. One of their ideas was to coordinate a school-wide community service project off campus. They wanted to come together as family and make a difference for others. Yesterday was the actualization of their vision. I am so proud of our students’ initiative and sense of empathy.”

The students quickly were broken into nine groups, each with a teacher to help coordinate the work they were assigned.

The camp’s administrative director of Programs & Operations, Nancy Grimes, said that Cradle Beach Camp is special because all people are welcome here. “There are no barriers.”

She says the student’s efforts will make a big difference.

 “It’s wonderful, it could not be better to have that kind of response from a group of kids that are a part of that next generation of leaders.”

The students broke into several crews and did beach clean-up, swept out the cabins, picked up fallen branches and scraped old paint off the pool house to make it ready for a new paint job.

Mirakle Bolton-Adams, a junior at O’Hara, asked students to write Post-It notes with a message for campers coming in this summer.

“We had more than 75 notes we posted in the five cabins,” Bolton-Adams said. “It’s good to give back. In fact, I’m going to be a counselor this summer and so are a few others. I hope we do this every year.”

Kiera Douglas, Isabel Krajewski and Talulah May, juniors, cleaned the “tree house” cabin and like other cabin workers, swept cobwebs, wiped down beds, cleaned the bathroom and made sure the cabin was “user friendly.”

“Even though it was manual labor, the time went by so quickly. It was a great new experience,” Douglas commented.

Scraping paint before adding a fresh coat, Gabe Kelichner (from left)), Dominick Tallarico, Aniyah Evans and Danila Bilogan do their part to help make Cradle Beach an inviting place for summer campers. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

Michael Morehouse, administrative assistant, was in charge of a group of freshmen.

“The kids gave out the jobs themselves. They took leadership roles themselves. In fact, two of the students stayed back when it was time for lunch to be sure the cabins were finished. It was a very productive day,” Morehouse said.

Ryleigh Myers, campus minister, said, “It’s good to expose students to outside outreach. We do many outreach projects in-house but this was a tangible effort of how we can be connected to the outside world.”

Faculty members grilled hot dogs for lunch that also offered baked beans and salad, and the free time left before boarding buses to return to O’Hara, students played pool, foosball, table tennis and other games while others just sat in groups talking over the day.

At the end of the day, Dimitroff said, “I am so proud of our students’ initiative and sense of empathy.”


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