‘It feels like an accomplishment’

Special to The Sun: The outdoor classroom at Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Moorestown offers students a fresh change of scenery.

Life Scout and Moorestown High School senior Xavier Ladik gave back to his community by helping build an outdoor classroom on the grounds of Our Lady of Good Counsel School.

“Since we’ve been in town, I’ve been a member of the OLGC (Our Lady of Good Counsel Church) congregation, so this project was really a way to fulfill my needs as a Boy Scout and give back to my religious community there at OLGC,” said Ladik .

Father Jim Grogan explained how the project began when a member of the church’s gardening committee approached him about using the open space behind the prayer garden.

“…I had actually seen a program on outdoor classrooms in the Diocese of Trenton in March being run by another parish – Saint Benedict in Holmdel,” he recalled. “It was a great little video where the principal showed what these kids were doing.”

“…After the gardening committee pointed out the site literally two days later, I had a meeting with Xavier Ladik to do an Eagle Scout project somewhere near our community site,” added Grogan.

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Many volunteers helped, including the church gardening committee, the Knights of Columbus, and other Boy Scouts. Paul’s Tree Service donated wood chips and tree stumps for seating.

“…The whole parish was behind the idea that started with Xavier’s offer to do an Eagle Scout project, so we had so many people who wanted to help, wanted to get involved,” Grogan noted.

“…The project itself took about six weeks from thought to completion. It was incredibly fast and (I) have Xavier to thank for that.”

Specially for The Sun: “It feels like an accomplishment,” Life Scout Xavier Ladik said of turning an empty room into a classroom. “Ultimately, this is something that has been achieved, not for me but for others.”

Ladik designed and built the classroom entrance and performed additional gardening work.

“…The whole property was completely unused and for a long time,” he said. “…The first thing I did with my project was just a lot of gardening to try to preserve this area and basically make it safe for kids because a lot of the natural hazards and obstacles create an environment that would be good.” , it would really bother the kids coming in.”

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“The second part was building the path…” Ladik added. “I built a wood chip path…about a 50 foot wood chip path with a wooden edging on the side and a garden arch over it to create a welcoming and welcoming entrance.”

Grogan shared plans for the outdoor classroom that connects to the church parking lot.

“…Longer term, our garden committee plans to create a pollinator and butterfly garden in the center of the space, really recognizing the need,” he said.

Ladik enjoyed seeing something he envisioned come to fruition.

“…Week after week, day after day, we worked, created changes, and looking back on it now, I know how it was before,” he said, “I know how it looks now, and it really is it.” It’s exciting to see something that was only in Father Jim’s and my mind is now real for other people to see and hopefully appreciate and use.”

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Both Grogan and Ladik considered bringing the outdoors into the community.

“When people go through the white lattice arch that Xavier put in and they come behind a privacy fence that was at the end of our parking lot and they come around that corner, nine out of 10 people – when they come around the corner – they say ‘Wow’ and that’s exactly the reaction we were hoping for,” said Grogan.

“It feels like an achievement,” said Ladik. “If it comes down to it, this is something that has been achieved, not for me but for others. It’s an incredible feeling to sit back, do something and know that it’s appreciated that it was done for a good cause.”

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