Girl Scout creates Peace Corner

WEST MILFORD. Ninth-grader Marie Swan is working on an art therapy/mindfulness space at the Highlander Academy to earn her Silver Award.

| 25 Sep 2023 | 08:30

School can be stressful. When it is, a Peace Corner being created at the Highlander Academy may be the place to go.

Ninth-grader Marie Swan has been working on the project at the former Westbrook School to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award.

In May, she presented her idea to the Board of Education for an art therapy/mindfulness space, with activities such as coloring and drawing media, origami, collage and scratch art.

Marie also has included a white-noise machine. A donation from Aaron’s Thinking Putty allowed her to offer relaxed sensory options.

She hopes to add a zen sand garden and painting with water as well.

There are different stations for various activities set up in the space.

Marie said her family moved from Brooklyn in 2019. She had a resource in her grammar school similar to the Peace Corner project and it helped when she felt overwhelmed.

Marie, who graduated from Macopin Middle School in June, has had access to the classroom space since school let out. However, she has been working since April on the concept, planning and speaking with the adults at the school.

When she was deciding on a project for her Silver Award, she was put in touch with Patrice Cappello, a social worker at West Milford High School who works with the Highlander Academy.

Marie is a Girl Scout Cadette with Troop 2834 of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She has been a Scout since she was in kindergarten.

The Silver Award is the second-highest that a Girl Scout can achieve and the highest award for a Cadette.

Marie also received two Bronze Awards, one with her Juniors troop in Brooklyn and another with her Juniors troop in New Jersey. She will be moving up to a Seniors troop at the end of September.

Among those who supported her project were classmates, businesses and various organizations. West Milford Hardware donated materials, and the Kinnelon Public Library donated art books from its annual book sale.

Several classmates volunteered to help sort materials, prepare the classroom, paint walls and set up furniture.

Marie’s mother, Lisa Origlieri, said the school board and administration have been very supportive and the maintenance and grounds workers at the Highlander Academy have been great to work with.

Marie has distributed fliers listing supplies that are needed for the Peace Corner along with an Amazon wish list and Venmo link. All cash donations go to supplies; all money must be spent by the end of September.

Supplies may be dropped off at the Highlander Academy, 55 Nosenzo Pond Road, in a labeled black-and-yellow bin.

Among the supplies needed are construction paper, wax pipe cleaners, Crayola crayons, thick and thin Crayola markers, scissors, school erasers, card stock paper, adult coloring books, Fidgets and bright color molding clay.

The Amazon wish list is online at