Buzz Kidz by Kasey French, age 16

September 2012

A peaceful resting place

I started Girl Scouts as a Daisy at St. Francis Episcopal Day School and have taken the long journey of 12 years to become an Ambassador, the highest rank of Girl Scouting.  Along with the highest rank comes the highest responsibility, completing the Girl Scout Gold Award, which requires at least 20 hours of service and 60 hours of leadership.

Kasey French, a junior at St. John’s School, organized a photo exhibit and wrote a book about historic Olivewood Cemetery to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award. Here she is during her service project with advisor Margott Williams.

The inspiration for my project came from a service camp I attended one summer. We went to a cemetery and cleaned up overgrown vegetation for a few hours. I’m not sure if it was the passion of all of those helping or the story behind the cemetery, but I was moved to base my project around Olivewood Cemetery.

Olivewood Cemetery, incorporated in 1875, is the burial site of many of Houston’s prominent African-American community members. There are a broad range of people resting there, including Houston’s first African-American doctor and attorney, as well as ministers, professors, slaves and veterans of armed service, along with their families. Due to drought and the flooding of White Oak Bayou, the cemetery has fallen into disrepair.

I created an exhibition of 12 artistic photographs of the cemetery; my success was measured both by the purchase of pieces and by how many brochures were taken from the display. The final portion of the project is the book I’m publishing of the story of Olivewood, along with my photographs there, to be distributed to small, independent bookstores. Proceeds will go to maintaining the cemetery.

This project has taken a lot of time, but it has been so rewarding. It has prepared me to be a better leader in the “real world” and helped me to learn how to deal with situations in business. I’ll carry these skills for the rest of my life.

If you want to help Olivewood Cemetery, there are cleanups on the first and third Saturday of every month, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. For other ways, see

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