Hometown Hero: Caia Kimball gives back to her elementary school

Caia Kimball stands next to the two rolling tool boxes she fundraised to purchase for Broken Ground School art teacher Karen McCormack for her Silver Award Girl Scout project.

Caia Kimball stands next to the two rolling tool boxes she fundraised to purchase for Broken Ground School art teacher Karen McCormack for her Silver Award Girl Scout project. Courtesy

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school.

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, Dec. 8. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school.

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, Dec. 8. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, December 8, 2023. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school.

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, December 8, 2023. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, December 8, 2023. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school.

Caia Kimball, a freshman at Concord High School, stands in front of one of the many murals around the school on Friday, December 8, 2023. Kimball wanted to foster the creative arts so she decided to give back resources to the art department Broken Ground School where she went to school. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 12-10-2023 4:37 PM

Caia Kimball needed to come up with a project for her Silver Award in Girl Scouts. Who better to help out than Karen McCormack, her former art teacher at Broken Ground School, she thought.

She’d seen that McCormack was trying to find a way of getting a makerspace into her art room. Kimball made it her mission to help. 

“I wanted to help at my school that I used to go to, and it was kind of a fun opportunity that came to mind,” Kimball said. “I wanted to help the community, help the school out.”

Over the course of the project, which began about two years ago when she was in seventh grade, Kimball raised roughly $1,500. She sold Lego earrings at Market Days, helped wrap gifts and held several yard sales. She researched the best equipment to buy, purchased two giant “rolling toolboxes” from Home Depot and set them up in McCormack’s classroom.

“She knows a lot about my classroom culture and how I encourage creativity in kids, problem-solving skills,” McCormack said. “(The makerspace) brings in different kinds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We call it a STEAM station in my room – we put the ‘art’ in there too – all combining together and encouraging the kids to use their own skills and creativity to be building, creating, problem-solving.”

McCormack also runs an after-school program for roughly 55 kids, three hours each day. They’ll use the makerspace quite a bit as well.

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“One of the highlights of my career is to see former students that are succeeding, whether that’s in middle school, high school or beyond,” McCormack said. “I love hearing about kids as they’re growing up, and I love when they want to reconnect. Caia always loved art, so it was great for her to pick the art room at Broken Ground for her project to benefit.”

Giving back

Caia’s mother, Alana, wasn’t really sure how much assistance her daughter would receive from local businesses as she worked to raise money. To say she was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

“It was so amazing to have the members of the downtown community support this project,” Alana Kimball said. “They were just so kind and welcoming and generous with their time and their shops and everything. … And then all the people who donated that heard about the project, now Ms. McCormack has enough supplies for a very long time.”

But this multiyear project was about more than just raising money for art supplies; it was about understanding the value of giving back and making a difference.

“The kids all know that it’s a former Broken Ground student that did this for them,” McCormack said. “That means a lot to them to know that kids who came here still care about our school. It builds that sense of community and pride in our school.”

And for Caia, just 14 years old, the project provided life lessons on perseverance, communication and organization. It was a daunting challenge but one she now looks back on with a sense of pride.

“It makes me feel happy because I’m glad that they’re enjoying it,” she said. “It makes me very happy because they respect it, and they’re glad to have it.”