TAMPA — School might be out for Andres Santini, but he still has a lot of schoolwork to do.
Santini graduated from Sickles High School last week, but he’s spending time earning credits for his Eagle Scout certification by recruiting friends and family to paint railings and posts and redo the benches and entranceway to Bellamy Elementary School.
The entranceway is part of a vision that teacher and social worker Dianne Hignite came up with.
The new entranceway at Bellamy now features hellos and goodbyes written in the 19 languages spoken by various Bellamy students and administration. The Bellamy students and parents come from at least 37 countries, and the greetings all reflect their native languages.
Santini actually went to Lowry Elementary School and Farnell Middle School before moving on to Sickles, but when he was looking for a project to complete, he started communicating with Dr. Theresa Seitz, an assistant principal at Bellamy.
He started by working with Hignite, who helped him come up with the phrases to paint on the entranceway, and it went from there on a Saturday and Sunday morning.
“Once I got the go-ahead we got moving and it went really quickly,” said Santini, who will attend the University of South Florida next year. “We started a fundraising drive and we got a lot of help.”
Santini said he was hoping to raise about $450 to fund the project.
After raking plenty of yards, going door to door and hosting a garage sale, he raised $471.
“After I raised the money, I sent emails to everyone I knew to find volunteers and a lot of people were interested in helping too,” Santini said.
At least 25 volunteers, including six faculty members, joined the project.
Santini has been in scouting as long as he can remember. He has to still go through a board hearing after the project is complete to make sure the project has earned him his leadership badge. After that, he has until August to earn one more badge for preparing a meal. It must be done before he turns 18 on Aug. 27.
But Santini, a true achiever, is sure he can get it done. He carried a 5.51 weighted GPA at Sickles while rising through the scouting ranks.
“I think everyone should try to be a Scout,” Santini said. “It teaches people to do what they should be doing on a regular basis. Scouts are good people and they all look out for each other.”