Garden City, NY July 10, 2012 – While some high schools now require a few hours of community service for graduation, none go as far as the Girl Scouts who earn the Gold Award. This year Kathleen Ackert, Cheyenne Begley, Kelsey Brown, Rebecca Delman, Alexandra Gribbin, Olivia Henry, Annie Hull, Nicole Kless, Tara Prufeta, Elizabeth Russo, Victoria Scaramucci, Julia Smaldone, Claudia Steck, Victoria Wang, Jillian Wong, Alexandra Wysota and Allison Yang of Manhasset join the record number of 121 Girl Scouts in Nassau County that have woven a minimum of 80 hours of community service into their busy schedules. These young women developed Gold Award community action projects that address social issues in their community or promote acts of kindness and goodwill throughout Nassau County. Their efforts earned these girls the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor that a young woman can achieve in Girl Scouting.
"We are so proud of all the young women who earned their Girl Scout Gold Award this year,” said Donna Ceravolo, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. “Through their projects, these women have changed the lives of others and improved their communities in significant ways. We couldn’t be happier that 121 girls chose to take this rigorous path towards earning their Gold Award and succeeded in accomplishing their goals.”
Kathleen Ackert organized and executed a Vacation Bible School for children entering Kindergarten through 2nd grade at her church for her Gold Award project. Not only did the children learn Bible stories and have fun in the fresh air, they also gained some independence from their parents. Ms. Ackert recently graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School, where she was a member of the diving team, the debate club, Blue & Gold, and worked on the literary magazine. Outside of school, she participated in gymnastics and lifeguarding and was an active member of her church. She will attend Siena College in the fall.
Cheyenne Begley’s Gold Award project “Living with Autism” addressed the issues of awareness, tolerance and acceptance of autism. She ran workshops for elementary and middle school students in the community so that they could better understand autism and be more accepting of their peers. Ms. Begley recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was the captain of the varsity cheerleaders and was a varsity athlete on the cross-country and track teams. She was also a member of National Honor Society, as well as honor societies for Music, Math, Italian, and Science. She plans to attend Lehigh University in the fall.
Kelsey Brown saw that many senior citizens were struggling to live on a fixed income. For her Gold Award project, she wanted to help seniors stretch their budgets. After interviewing several older citizens to determine their needs, Ms. Brown asked local businesses to offer discounts to them. She also created a booklet, which listed the participating businesses and the discounts available. She not only helped the elders make ends meet, but she also helped local stores and services gain additional business. Ms. Brown recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was the captain of the varsity swim team and a member of National Honor Society, Exemplars Club, Italian Honor Society, Key Club and student government. She will attend Wake Forest University in the fall.
Rebecca Delman’s Gold Award project focused on helping children, who were struggling with reading. She worked with a reading specialist at a local community center and designed lessons that targeted the particular skills with which the children were struggling. The curriculum was tailored to the ages of the students and included tools, such as flashcards and other activities to build the students’ skills and reading levels, both in school and at home. Ms. Delman’s curriculum will continue to be available to young readers at the community center now in the future. Ms. Delman recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was the class vice president and was active in Key Club and student government. She will attend Yale University in the fall.
Alexandra Gribbin wanted to promote environmental awareness to young children and encourage them to make an impact on their environment through reducing, reusing, and recycling. For her Gold Award project, she connected with local environmental and government agencies and ran events in her community that included hands-on activities, guest speakers, and recycling stations. Also, an article was published in her local newspaper that further shared her message with the town. Ms. Gribbin recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Honor Society, Peer Responder program and the Key Club. She will attend Cornell University in the fall.
Olivia Henry, Annie Hull and Nicole Kless teamed up for their Gold Award project to develop a week-long summer camp program to the children of Webster Springs, West Virginia. Ms. Henry was responsible for developing a swimming safety program, where she taught basic swimming safety tips to help children build their comfort level in the water. Ms. Hull was responsible for arts and crafts. To achieve her goal, she not only organized the activities, but she also solicited donations of supplies, books and toiletries to benefit the children and their families. Ms. Kless ran sports activities during the camp sessions. Through her instruction, the children learned about various sports. She also delivered sports equipment and ran a donation drive, where she collected more than 15 boxes of toiletries to send to West Virginia. The girls recently graduated from Manhasset High School. Ms. Henry was on the varsity swimming and rowing teams and a member of the National Honor Society, and honor societies for math, Spanish and science. She also participated in Physics Olympics, Key club, and World of Difference club She will attend Harvard University in the fall. Ms. Hull was a member of the volleyball team, Italian Honor Society, Key Club, and orchestra. She also volunteered at North Shore-LIJ Hospital and for the Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer. She plans to attend Wake Forest University in the fall. Ms. Kless was on the softball and basketball teams and was a member of the National Honor Society and honor societies for math, science and Spanish. She will attend Villanova University in the fall.
Tara Prufeta’s Gold Award project addressed an important childhood holiday: Halloween. Seeing that some families could not afford Halloween costumes, she collected costumes from around her community. Ms. Prufeta then sorted them by size and created an inventory list. She collaborated with a local agency to stock their facility with the costumes. She developed a system for their loan, so that the community members can borrow the costumes for the holiday and return them afterwards. These costumes will be used and enjoyed for years to come. Ms. Prufeta recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was a member of the softball, basketball and field hockey teams and the Be Like Rachael club and Junior Coalition Against Breast Cancer. She plans to attend Bucknell University in the fall.
Elizabeth Russo wanted to address the issue of bicycle safety as the topic of her Gold Award project. By collaborating with town officials, a local bike shop and the Coalition for a Safer Manhasset, she organized and ran a bike safety day for the children of Manhasset. After publicizing her event in the schools and in the local newspapers, she prepared a day, where her volunteers taught children riding techniques and safety skills, as well as maintenance and safety tips. Ms. Russo recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was a member of the Green Club, French Honor Society, National Honor Society, and Tri-M Music Honor Society. She was also a member of the Coalition for a Safer Manhasset and the Manhasset Junior Coalition Against Breast Cancer. She will attend Fordham University in the fall.
Victoria Scaramucci’s Gold Award project was designed to give elementary school students a taste of the auditioning process in theater and prepare them for the drama program in middle school. Using teachers and volunteers from her high school drama group, she conducted workshops to develop the drama skills of the children and build their enthusiasm for the middle school theater program. Ms. Scaramucci recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was active in the musical, dramatic and repertory productions. She was a representative to Broadway Equity Fights AIDS and was in the Thespian Honor Society. She plans to attend the University of Southern California in the fall.
Julia Smaldone wanted to raise awareness of the Holocaust and to stress the importance of remembering what took place, in an effort to prevent their reoccurrence. For her Gold Award project, she interviewed a local woman who is a survivor of the Holocaust and created a presentation and workshop that was presented to over 150 middle school students in her district. The film and hands-on activities that she created were designed to promote understanding and tolerance. Ms. Smaldone recently graduated from Manhasset High School and was a member of the cross-country and track teams, the debate team, the orchestra and was on the staff of the school newspaper. She plans to attend Colgate University in the fall.
Claudia Steck wanted to encourage younger girls to develop high self-esteem and to be aware of the media messages that pressure them to look or act in a particular way. For her Gold Award project, she compiled a short collection of video clips that highlighted media messages about body image, which she showed to a group of girls. She then had them participate in a variety of activities to underscore her message. The girls also talked about bullying and how it affects everyone. Ms. Steck recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she ran cross-country and track & field. She was a member of the National Honor Society and Art and Spanish Honor Societies. She will attend Cornell University in the fall.
Victoria Wang’s Gold Award project was initially planned to beautify her community, but in the execution, it became much more, as it brought children together to express what “community” means. Working with a group of children from a local community center, Ms. Wang talked with them about what community means and led them to interpret their thoughts in a mural that they painted at the community center. She recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was a member of the Best Buddies club and worked with autistic children through the afterschool BOCES program. She was also a member of the varsity swim team, the Key Club and the Manhasset Junior Coalition Against Breast Cancer. Ms. Wang plans to attend Trinity College in the fall.
Jillian Wong focused her Gold Award project on the issue of childhood obesity. Knowing the increased risk of health problems and the impact on self-esteem, she designed a clinic that gave children education about healthy eating and the importance of exercise. Ms. Wong and her volunteers introduced different sports, showing the children how to incorporate activity into their everyday lives. She also educated them about healthy food choices and maintaining overall health. Ms. Wong recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was on the track team and was a member of the International club, marching band, and peer responders. She also volunteered at Palisades Medical Center. Ms. Wong will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.
Alexandra Wysota’s Gold Award project was designed to educate children in grades 5 through 8 about the contributions of the military and military veterans. She ran workshops, where she provided information on the branches of service, military holidays, and flag etiquette. To make her topic come alive, she also invited several local veterans to share their experiences from World War II and the Korean War. The children who attended her workshops then created cards and gift bags, which were distributed to veterans on Veterans Day. Ms. Wysota recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was on the varsity softball team since middle school. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, Art Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and the Be Like Rachel club. Ms. Wysota will attend Emerson College in the fall.
Allison Yang wanted to immerse students in a world of music and instruments for her Gold Award project. She saw that many children began music lessons on an instrument without having had the opportunity to experiment and explore many different types of instruments. As a result, she ran a series of workshops for a group of children in summer camp to spark their interest in music and expand their knowledge and experience of instruments. Ms. Yang recently graduated from Manhasset High School, where she was in the select choir ensemble, marching band, symphonic choir, and worked on the literary magazine. She plans to attend New York University in the fall.
On June 12th the Girl Scouts of Nassau County honored Girl Scouts Seniors and Ambassadors between the ages of 15 and 18 at a special ceremony held at Adelphi University in Garden City. In addition to the Girl Scout ceremony, on June 21st, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will present the girls, along with their Eagle Scout counterparts from Boy Scouts, with certificates for their achievements at the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative Chamber in Mineola. Town of Hempstead Supervisor also honored Girl Scout Gold Award recipients and Eagle Scouts on June 3rd in an event at Levy Preserve.
"Girl Scouts Gold Award recipients are ambitious and dedicated individuals with strong time management and organizational skills. They have joined an elite group of American women, who are part of the Girl Scouts of the USA's Gold Award Alliance," said Ms. Ceravolo.
The Gold Award project helps high school-aged Girl Scouts develop leadership skills and explore various career paths. Overall, the Gold Awards require up to a three-year commitment from each young woman. It affords the teen the opportunity to learn about arts and humanities, cultural and global relations, personal well-being, technology and science, environmental concerns and many of the innumerable issues facing young women and the world today.
Girl Scouts of Nassau County builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Girl Scouting in Nassau County creates an accepting and nurturing environment, which gives girls a chance to build character and develops leadership skills for success in the real world. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them throughout their lives, like strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth. With almost 21,000 girl and 7,000 adult members, Girl Scouts of Nassau County has become the preeminent organization and leading authority for girls. The organization, now in its 100th year, continues to make the world a better place one girl at a time.
For more information on the Girl Scouts of Nassau County call Donna Rivera Downey 516 741-2550 at ext. 260, or visit www.gsnc.org.
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