Editor’s note: This story is the fourth in a series highlighting how local business, organizations, churches and schools give back this holiday season. The series will run every Tuesday in the Community section through Dec. 25.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Jenna Ampulski, Isabelle Canney and Megan Korbel quietly wind their way around the labyrinth at St. Pius X Catholic School.
Then one points and breaks the silence, saying: “Remember digging there?”
“It was so hot,” replies another.
“I can’t believe it’s finished,” the third chimes in.
Jenna, Isabelle and Megan, all 13 and eighth-graders at Regis Middle School, are Girl Scout Cadettes and Juliettes (scouts not connected to a troop).
For 14 months, the trio worked to create a prayer garden and labyrinth at their former elementary school. The project was to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award — the highest a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.
There was a time, they said, it seemed it would never be finished.
“It was more prep work than I realized,” Isabelle says.
They researched labyrinths by visiting examples at Xavier High School and Indian Creek Nature Center.
They raised more than $7,000 by submitting a grant application to DoSomething.org and preparing a PowerPoint presentation for Megan’s mom, Kristen Korbel, to share with area organizations, businesses and individuals.
“There were a lot of businesses that, after we told them what we were doing, just donated the items or sold them at cost,” Megan says.
A landscaper and botanist helped create a design. Midwest Lawn and Landscaping excavated the site at St. Pius X in June, delivering limestone, river rock and pavers to the site.
Throughout the summer, more than 60 volunteers — including Boy Scouts from Troop 42 and Girl Scouts from troops 5049 and 8979 — helped transform an unused courtyard to a peaceful area for reflection and education.
“There are so many twists and turns, but it always leads to the middle, to God,” Jenna says.
The labyrinth was completed in August. In all, the girls and the volunteers clocked more than 650 hours of labor during one of the hottest summers in Eastern Iowa.
St. Pius X “did so much for us,” Megan says. “It’s great to do something for them.”
When they were done, the girls installed a small plaque inscribed with their names near the labyrinth.
“It shows other kids that they can make a difference,” Jenna says.
“We’re three eighth-grade girls,” Megan adds. “If we can do this, imagine what else can be done.”