“Clap once if you can hear me!” troop leader Shari Kaplan said, and the chaos brewing in room B-1 at Greenville Elementary School subsided.
Thirteen first-grade girls hushed and leaned forward in anticipation of their next assignment. Girl Scout Daisy Troop 3000 was gathered after school April 30, just like they did every week, but their task this week was the perennial springtime tradition of making and giving May Day baskets.
“Every year the Girl Scouts give these May Day baskets, which include treats, flowers or something that you make,” said Jeannie Song, another troop leader. “We give [the baskets] to people who have been helpful to the Girl Scouts, our troop in particular, and the community as a whole.”
Along with Joyce Chapnick, Song and Kaplan helped establish Troop 3000 at the beginning of the school year.
As soon as the girls finished decorating individual cards for each basket, they prepared to present them to their teachers, who were summoned, one at a time, from the teachers’ lounge to receive the gifts and trade thank yous with their students. The baskets were adorned with pastel tissue paper and bright floral designs.
“We are so grateful to be part of this special tradition,” said Greenville first-grade teachers Katrina Fielding, Gail Marshall, Jennifer Nicks and Lauren Redmerski. Along with their own teachers, the girls presented a basket to the teacher whose room they use after school, the Girl Scout equivalent of a landlord, Mary Elizabeth Ryan.
They also made baskets for the Greenville Elementary custodial staff and the caretaker of their local Girl Scout House on Wayside Lane, and even delivered one to The Scarsdale Inquirer staff on May 2.
The Daisies (the official name for the younger level of Girl Scouts) had the privilege of being joined by a select few members of the fifth-grade Brownie Troop 1937, who shared their years of May Day basket-making expertise, as well as the wisdom of seniority.
Yejoo Song, 7, said her favorite part of the tradition was the chance to give the baskets to her teachers. Having said that, she selected a new crayon to finish off the intricate floral pattern she was drawing on a card.
Elisabeth Wilson, also 7, couldn’t decide which part of being a Girl Scout she liked more, and so she settled on enjoying every part equally.
May Day, which occurs on May 1 every year, has origins as a traditional springtime festival and is celebrated across the Northern Hemisphere. Common activities include dancing around a maypole, singing and spending time outside. Since the late 19th century, May Day has come to be associated with the labor movement, and in 1899 was designated by the Second International as International Workers’ Day. The Second International was a group of socialists and communists who thrived during the early 20th century, notable for its rejection of anarchism, and dissolution due to internal conflicts shortly after World War I. International Workers’ Day is celebrated by most other countries, and is known as Labor Day in the United States.
Although this may be Troop 3000’s first time making baskets, the Scarsdale-Edgemont Girl Scout community has been participating in the tradition for years. The very first Scarsdale Girl Scout troop was established in November 1919 and the Betty Taubert Girl Scout House on Wayside Lane was built in 1941 to host the area’s rapidly growing Girl Scouts population.
As Troop 3000’s inaugural year comes to a close, Kaplan was proud of the progress she and her girls have made so far.
“It’s been really nice to get a large group of the first-graders — not all of whom have known each other — to come together and work on developing good character and learning about the Girl Scout traditions and being a part of the community,” Kaplan said. “They love doing their goodbye hand squeeze, helping with jobs and just having fun, laughing, and being silly throughout each meeting.”