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Board debates school visits by Boy Scouts

01:00 AM EDT on Thursday, April 27, 2006

Journal Staff Writer

NORTH PROVIDENCE -- After lengthy debate over whether it would be an unwelcome intrusion on students' time at lunch, the School Committee voted last night to allow Boy Scouts to make five-minute presentations at all of the town's schools in the fall.

The request -- from Al DeCellio, scoutmaster for North Providence Troop 5, and Marc T. Andreo, director of field service for the Boy Scouts of
America's Narragansett Council -- drew objections from committee member Donald J. Cataldi, who argued that no group should be making a
presentation during school hours that isn't curriculum related.

"Where do we find that learning to start a fire is part of the curriculum?" he asked, adding that he didn't think citizenship was part of the curriculum, either.

"If we do it for the Boy Scouts, I think we set a precendent for every other organization to approach the schools," he said. "I also don't think
we should be allowing presentations during lunch periods. The lunch period is the children's social time. I don't think we should take any of that
away from them."

But other members disagreed, saying the scouts teach important skills for life and leadership, and principles of good citizenship.

"I think it is a part of the education of young children," said member Vito Martinelli. "I would support giving [the scouts] all the access they
need. We already permit fliers for bake sales. Why wouldn't we want to pass out fliers for the Boy Scouts?"

Member David A. Wilkes agreed, saying, "I would have no issue with allowing the scouts to speak 10 or 15 minutes at lunch, no issue at all."

DeCellio, whose troop is chartered by Roger Williams Baptist Church but will be changing to St. Lawrence Church, said the troop has been in the town for 67 years. Its members have been involved in numerous Eagle Scout projects, from improvements to the Peter Randall Reservation to cleanups of historic cemeteries and the Woonasquatucket watershed.

Andreo said 1,200 boys in North Providence are eligible for scouting, but only 10 percent are involved. The scouts have learned that many more young people respond when they hear a personal presentation.

The scout leaders said they will make sure representatives of the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts are included.




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