Preserving the past for the future was a theme Alissa Fleming and Julia Scacchitti embraced as they worked on their Girl Scout Gold Award project, which entailed digitizing all of the Crystal Fire Department’s archives.
The Elk County Catholic High School seniors began their project in January 2008 and finished in August. The bulk of their efforts consisted of scanning photos and articles from as far back as the 1960s.
“We needed 65 hours for the project and we went above and beyond that,” Fleming said.
While the scouts submitted their work as separate projects, they both worked together on it. Fleming worked on newspaper articles, while Scacchitti concentrated on photos. They presented a slideshow of their completed project during a fire department meeting in August.
Upon completion of the project, Fleming archived a total of 17 scrapbooks in addition to Scacchitti’s archiving 12 photo albums.
As part of the project, the scouts created three copies of the archives, each consisting of a pack of CDs, which were distributed to the St. Marys and Benzinger Township Historical Society, the Crystal Fire Department and the CFD’s historian. In addition, they provided the CFD with a flash drive of the archives.
The girls received their Gold Award during a ceremony held at Fleming’s home.
“We have a lot of people in my family involved with the fire department,” said Fleming, describing how the project came about. “The fire department wanted someone to do the project but no one ever finished it, so we started from scratch.”
According to Fleming, her portion of the project was extensive, as she worked with large 11x17 scrapbooks and often had to scan the newspaper articles in twice due to their length, then organize the files. She expressed her gratitude to Malone Printing, who donated the use of a scanner.
Scacchitti added that many of the photos were deteriorating and had to be handled carefully. She scanned them in by sections, often leaving them inside the book’s sleeve so as to not remove them and cause damage.
Also donating project supplies were Anderson and Kime Appraisal Services and Fleming’s parents.
“My parents were there when I needed a bit of encouragement,” Fleming said.
“They (the parents) definitely kept pushing us,” Scacchitti added.
The idea to work together on a Gold Award project was a given, as Fleming and Scacchitti have both been in the same Girl Scout troop since kindergarten.
“This project taught me the importance of perseverance and about what has come before us,” Fleming said.
“I have learned endurance, focusing on reaching a goal, not giving up and knowing you can experience something; and learning from past mistakes,” Scacchitti said.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 23 edition of The Daily Press.