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Giving backBoy Scout builds shed for McNulty community garden

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - Updated: 7:15 AM


By JOHN PURCELL

Recorder News Staff

Several students at R.J. McNulty Academy for International Studies and Literacy Magnet School high-fived Amsterdam High School student Thomas Knack on Tuesday in celebration of the completion of his Eagle Scout project.

The project involved constructing an outdoor shed for the community garden located at the elementary school.

Knack, a member of Amsterdam Boy Scout Troop 48, said he felt good giving back to his former elementary school.

"I just liked having the memories of being here and having all the kids at this school be able to experience the stuff I did and some more," Knack said. "There are a lot of things that are here now that weren't when I was at McNulty, like the garden, so it's nice to give them a place to store their tools."

McNulty Principal Todd Giagni said he and staff members were honored to have Knack choose a project benefiting his former elementary school.

"This shed symbolizes a sense of community," Giagni said, "because not only is Thomas giving back to the school where he attended, but McNulty students will be giving back to the community through the vegetables they grow in the school garden."

Knack had fundraised around $1,600 through various efforts, such as a bottle drive, to purchase the supplies needed for the project. Knack then constructed the shed with help from family, friends and fellow troop members.

The shed was the third one his family had constructed for the school. His oldest brother, Jonathan, built a shed for the high school track team and his twin brother, Stephen, built a shed for the high school soccer team. Knack said his brothers were able to help him out throughout the process.

Knack said the most challenging part about building the shed was making sure the base blocks were level. He was able to construct the shed within two days thanks to many others pitching in to help.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is important to Knack, because he said it's a great responsibility and give him opportunities later in life.

Giagni said funds the district received through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant were used to construct the community garden at the school. He said several students' parents and Home Depot also helped out with the garden.

Giagni said the outdoor shed provides a safe place to store all the supplies needed to "make the community garden come to life."

Giagni said the school had its first pumpkin picking day on Tuesday, with each class eventually selecting a pumpkin and voting on a design to decorate it. The teachers will then be carving the design into the pumpkin for the class.

Giagni said parents had helped water the garden over the summer and he hopes by the next summer, the garden will be fully operational with community members assisting and getting produce from it.

McNulty will host a paint and garden night event Tuesday, Oct. 4, which involves helping clean out and prepare the garden for winter and painting the cafeteria. Money left over from what Knack fundraised is being used to purchase crushed stone and pea gravel for the garden.