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Scouts Deck School's Halls

The walls are looking good at Columbus Magnet School, thanks to Charlie Kahler and his team. The 17-year-old Boy Scout looks back fondly at the school, which he attended. So when he heard that the PTO had run out of money for its beautification project, he decided to meld that project with his own -- becoming an Eagle Scout.

"I decided I would take the Boy Scouts and we would do it ourselves, as something to give back to the community," said Charlie, who goes to the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering in Stamford. Charlie has a good connection at the school: His mother, Yin Kahler, is a fifth-grade teachers aide. So he knew all about the school's Adventures in Art Beautification, about the mosaic walls in the front entryway and the colorful painting of the classroom alcoves and bulletin boards, which began last spring. He knew about the goal of what his mother calls the "jewel-like tones," that the hallways should be as beautiful as the children in them.

What he didn't know was how much work just writing the proposal would be. He needed to submit detailed plans to the Boy Scout council committee, which meant measuring every square inch of hallway. He also needed to estimate how much paint he would need.

Charlie enlisted sponsors -- Brandman's Paint and Decorating and Sherwin Williams -- to pay for the supplies. Then he and about 60 other members of Troop 2 got to work priming the hallways. "The fun part was trying to get the dates where everybody could show up," said Troop Master Paul Voges.

Work began the first weekend in October and continued this past weekend. First the boys put on primer, then they covered it with beige paint. "We felt that the color brings out the bulletin boards and the alcoves better," Charlie said.

Principal Emily Lopez agreed. "Just having a neutral color as the base color behind the bulletin boards provided us an even further opportunity for student work to pop and be showcased," she said. "Having Charlie dedicate his Eagle project to the school is exciting, and showcases the success of the community the school is building, given that he is an alumnus."

The goal is to have the project done by the end of the month. "It's definitely wonderful for the hallways to be spruced up," she said.

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