CASSANDRA AND HER BOOK
CASSANDRA AND HER BOOK

Every day, residents look around the Albany Diocese and see ways they wish to help their community. Cassandra Carraher, a Girl Scout and a new graduate of St. Mary’s School in Waterford, is making sure positive change happens.

Cassandra recently earned her Silver Award, one of the highest honors in Girl Scouting, by writing and self-publishing a book titled, “Adeline.”

The Silver Award requires the scout to organize and implement a service project that will benefit her community, and “I wanted to give back to the community with a book,” Cassandra said.

Her book follows the life of 11-year-old Adeline, an orphan living in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912, who goes to work as a maid in the house of Juliette Gordon Low. Ms. Low founded the Girl Scouts of America.

After meeting Ms. Low and joining her Girl Scout troop, Adeline’s world is opened up to new opportunities, new friends and self-discoveries about her inner strength, despite coming from a background of poverty.

Inspiration

Cassandra was inspired to write the book after her time volunteering at Girls Inc.; a non-profit designed to help girls overcome gender, economic and social barriers. Cassandra began helping out at a local Girls Inc. after-school program three years ago, reading and mentoring to girls from lower-income families.

”I wanted to show anyone they could do anything, regardless of social status, and [that] they could have an impact on the world,” she explained.

For the past nine years, Cassandra has been involved in Girl Scout Troop 2304. Her mother, Jennifer, helped start the troop when Cassandra got interested in scouting. The organization “has been present throughout my entire life,” said the young scout.

Around 2016, when Cassandra was brainstorming ideas for her Silver Award project, her troop held a meeting about Juliette Gordon Low. Cassandra got the idea to write a story incorporating Ms. Low’s creation of the Girl Scouts, but from the perspective of a younger character.

Two-year process

Over the next two years, Cassandra worked on her book. Her English teacher at St. Mary’s School in Waterford, Sean DeBiase, offered feedback and constructive criticism.

Her grandfather learned about Cassandra’s project and gave her some books for Christmas on how to self-publish written works. With those gifts and her own research, she found The Troy Book Makers, who helped her publish “Adeline” in May of this year.

Of the 250 copies printed, Cassandra gave 100 of them to her students at Girls Inc.

“My students have come up to me and said, ‘I started your book! I started chapter one!’’ she said, noting that she gradually increased the vocabulary level through the course of the book in the hopes that her students would be challenged by the end.

“Adeline” also includes some subtle messages about equality for women. Cassandra said her favorite scene to write was when Adeline and a friend, Byron, encounter a group of boys playing baseball. Adeline fights for her right to play in the game, despite girls seldom being allowed to participate in sports at that point in history.

Cassandra writes: “[Adeline] stood her ground and walked over to the bat that had been dropped on the field….The wooden bat felt nice in her hands and she banged it on the ground to get their attention.”

The author said she wanted her protagonist to demonstrate confidence and strength, and purposefully made Adeline a little “sassy and unorthodox” for the time.

Change the world

For Cassandra, “Adeline” also served to show how important Girl Scouts can be to young girls. She hopes the book will inspire others to join a troop.

Cassandra said that Girl Scouts “opened a lot of doors for me that would have been closed.” For instance, her troop helped to open a library in Africa with books they collected. Recently, the troop toured local colleges to explore future options for their education.

“A lot of people think that, because I’m so young, there’s not much you can do,” Cassandra said. But “Girl Scouts gives you the facilities to change the world.”

The scout strives to be a “well-rounded” person. In addition to her writing efforts, she recently returned from a two-week summer course studying medicine at Oxford University in England, and she’s a member of the Civil Air Patrol, a junior program under the U.S. Air Force.

She has been an altar server at her parish, St. Edward’s in Clifton Park, and incorporated aspects of her Catholic faith into her book: Adeline carries a rosary and says prayers before bed.

My faith “has been very present in my life with friends or acquaintances,” Cassandra said.

In the fall, Cassandra will be entering ninth grade at Emma Willard School in Troy. She plans to continue her membership in the Girl Scouts.