In a culmination of their scouting careers, Palisadian Girl Scout Troop 12815 members Sophia Arvin, Abby Fisher, Michaela Koski, Deryn Greene, Chloe Smigla, Natalie Schoemann, Abigail Brown and Madeline Brown were recently honored with the Gold Award, the most prestigious accolade offered by the Girl Scouts and the most difficult to earn.
“This totals 640 hours of community service and eight individual projects, from education about internet safety to programs about food waste to photo documentaries of women shattering the glass ceiling,” Troop leader Lisa Moore told the Palisadian-Post.
Troop 12815, led by Moore and Corinne Bourdeau, is part of the Palisades/Malibu/Brentwood service unit and has been recognized by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Palisades Rotary Club and the Greater Los Angeles Girl Scout Council.
On the weekend of March 9, Troop 12815 girls were recognized at a private ceremony and on Sunday, March 17, were welcomed by the Palisades Presbyterian Church for a Court of Awards ceremony.
Four years ago, these same girls earned the prerequisite Silver Award for a group community project working to protect our oceans from plastic waste, each receiving a certificate from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu and former President Barack Obama.
Beginning in 1916, Girl Scouts have pursued the Gold Award, which has taken many names over the years, including the Golden Eaglet Insignia (1916-39), the Curved Bar Award (1940-63) and the First Class Award (1963-80).
Girl Scouts who pursue the Gold Award tackle a social issue with a seven-step plan that begins with first identifying their issue of choice (local or global) followed by investigating that issue thoroughly, establishing a team to address that issue, creating a plan to address the issue, presenting that plan to the Girl Scout Council in the form of a project proposal, and finally taking action on that plan and sharing that plan with others to inspire them to take action.
For her project, “Keyboards for a Cause,” Sophia Arvin created a sustainable music keyboarding curriculum for St. Anne’s School, serving a diverse community drawn from 20 zip codes, culminating in a holiday recital featuring the music students as performers.
Abby Fisher chose to tackle an environmental cause with her project “Battling Plastic Pollution,” creating both a series of educational lectures for teachers about the danger of plastic pollution and a recycled plastic art project curriculum to share in local schools.
In her project “Food Waste and Composting,” Michaela Koski created and presented a curriculum to educate the public about food waste, writing a book about food waste and partnering with another Girl Scout troop in a canning project where all canned goods would be donated to the homeless.
Deryn Greene’s project “Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health” saw her create a program for several schools and a local synagogue offering solutions and tips for individuals struggling with anxiety, depression and stress.
Chloe Smigla’s project, “Girl Power,” was a video documentary about women who shatter the glass ceiling. Smigla also wrote a fairy tale about a heroine who saves the day, and was nominated as a GSGLA Young Woman of Distinction.
Natalie Schoemann focused on child literacy with “Reading 4 Kids,” creating a reading program for low-income children at Claris Health, a nonprofit agency serving families with children less than two years of age. Schoemann also organized volunteers to read to children at the center, personally sewing 10 cushions for story time and collecting over 200 books for a Claris Health library.
Abigail Brown’s project “Internet Safety” focused on the dangers of the internet, designing an educational program and website teaching children, teens and parents about internet safety. Her project was adopted by the Los Angeles Archdiocese as part of their Safeguard the Children Program.
“Girl Scouts and the Gold Award taught me how to effectively change my community,” Brown told the Post.
Abigail’s twin sister, Madeline Brown, created and led a group of 12 girls and five women for her project “Sewing for Sisterhood.” The group sewed 100 baby bags and 300 baby hats for Claris Health.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award means personal growth for me,” Madeline shared. “I learned perseverance, determination and the importance of hard work while working on my project.”
According to a 2012 study on alumnae of the Girl Scout program entitled “Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study,” Gold Award Girl Scouts not only report higher success rates and greater happiness later on in their lives, but also distinguish themselves from their peers in the college admissions process and, if they so choose, can enter the military one rank higher upon entry.
“All in all, a banner and record-setting year for the Palisades service unit,” Moore said. “We couldn’t be more proud.”