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Gold Award Recipients 2012

Girl Scouts of Connecticut congratulates all of our 2012 Gold Award recipients! Find out more about the girls and their projects below. You can click on a name to jump to that project description.


Erin K. Amarello
Marisa Hann
Heather McLeod
Elisabeth H.E. Smith
Lauren Bacon Erin Elizabeth Holle
Blayne D. Michalski
Chelsea Sumner 
Victoria Becker Madeline Holzhauer
Kelley Miller
Emily Surprenant
Jillian Bosshardt Teresa Horan
Paula Melissa Moore
Cassandra Svelnys
Melissa Corinne Brian Sydney Hougrand
Megan Morrow  
Victoria Szamocki
Taylor Brown Josie Hunt
Victoria Nortz Amanda Valaitis
Alexandra Cambra Lauren Jansen
Karina Olsen   
Noelle C. Visconti
Vivian Carlson Victoria Jardon
Heather Palmer
Natalie Von Achen
Shannon Chapman Meredith Janae Kresic
Callista Platt Jacqueline Williams
Kaylee DeWitt Sarah A. Kukich
Erin Provenzano
Melissa Windover
Tessa E. Duke Lauren LaDelfa
Stephanie Robertson Shaylyn Young
Erica Feenstra Alexandra Lane
Rebecca Schmitt   
Samantha Zawistowski
Emily Gasta Breanne Lubinsky
Kira Schott  
Alea Gilhuly-Mandel Sarah Luft
Jordyn Schrage
Anna Glassman Katerina Marlin
Jaclyn Searles

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Erin K. AmarelloErin K. Amarello

Erin’s Gold Award project was to repaint the boys’ locker room at St. Bernard School in Norwich to enhance the school’s image to students and outside groups. The project plan and a budget sheet, given to the athletic director, included information on square footage and what supplies would be needed to maintain for the future. Erin is currently studying mechanical and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Lauren BaconLauren Bacon
Lauren created a colonial-themed, kid-friendly museum exhibit. She put together a toy chest filled with toys from the colonial period, and also designed a question board, tourist board, and a museum and docent guide. Her project is a permanent exhibit at the Governor Trumbull House in Lebanon. She will study international business at Loyola University New Orleans in the fall.

Victoria BeckerVictoria Becker
“Healthy Habits” was designed by Victoria to help local children get fit. She created lesson plans and taught third graders how to identify and make healthy decisions in their lives, such as healthy food, exercise, and hygiene. Third-grade teachers in the community have incorporated Victoria’s lesson plans into their curriculum. Victoria’s future plans include pursuing a career in interior design.

Jillian BosshardtJillian Bosshardt
Jillian authored “Mikey the Molar,” a book for children that stresses the importance of dental health in a fun and interactive way, showing them ways to brush and floss correctly. “Mikey the Molar” and an activity book will be given to local Girl Scouts in the area to use. Jillian is studying biochemstry at Western Connecticut State University and plans to become a cosmetic dentist.

Melissa Corinne BrianMelissa Corinne Brian
Melissa developed “ROC-ME,” a music program for underprivileged city youth that introduces musical concepts and instruments. The students learned about different instruments and types of music during the program, allowing them to be creative and express themselves. Melissa also created an inspirational documentary video and lesson plans to leave with the city community center.

Taylor BrownTaylor Brown
For her Gold Award Project, Taylor designed a program for middle-school girls about healthy body image, eating habits, and warning signs of eating disorders. She used games and magazines for discussion purposes and hosted a garbage bag fashion show to promote positive body image. Her project’s information will be presented to future girls by Waterford Youth Services. She is studying marketing at Three Rivers Community College.

Alexandra CambraAlexandra Cambra
Alexandra’s Gold Award Project, “How to Survive: Pomperaug High School,” was a 24-page guide about the Pomperaug High experience. This student-based guide was given to all eighth graders. She also created a video of high school students and a PowerPoint presentation, which will be administered to future eighth graders by a club at the high school. Alexandra plans to be a pharmacist.

Vivian CarlsonVivian Carlson
Vivian’s Gold Award project was “The Healthy Vegetarian,” a cookbook for vegetarian teenagers and their families. The book contained a guide to eating healthy with recipe ideas. She started a vegetarian club, incorporating a cooking demonstration of one of her recipes. Her cookbook and ideas for meetings will be continued by the club she started. She studies photography at Parsons The New School for Design.

Shannon ChapmanShannon Chapman
Old Lyme
For her Gold Award project, Shannon made a trail passport of six trails for students, while other high school students constructed trail boxes for sign-in sheets and stamps. She also hosted four summer outdoor awareness workshops for trail safety. The trail passports and sign-in sheets will remain at the trails. She is currently studying painting and art education at Boston University.

Kaylee DeWittKaylee DeWitt
Helping improve the lives of cancer patients, Kaylee developed two creative workshops for the local community to sew hats for the Praxair Center. They also made flower pins to decorate the hats and included uplifting notes for the cancer patients. The women’s group at Kaylee’s church will continue holding workshops several times a year to continue hat making. Kaylee is currently studying journalism at Brigham Young University.

Tessa E. DukeTessa E. Duke
Tessa traveled to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford to lead four different theatrical workshops for children ages 6-16 afflicted with cancers or blood disorders. Each of the workshops incorporated different theater skills, including acting, creating scenery, and costume-making. She donated a “Legacy Book” to the camp that details each activity for future campers. She plans to study film and screenwriting.

Erica FeenstraErica Feenstra
Erica refurbished and established a nursery program at her church. She cleaned out the room, painted and stenciled the walls, and redecorated the room. She recruited volunteers to help her with this project, providing a safe place for children to go every Sunday during church services. She plans to specialize in early childhood or special education in college.

Emily GastaEmily Gasta
South Windsor
Emily held a series of eight workshops in the community about the importance of advocating for and helping people with severe food allergies. She scheduled guest speakers and experts on the topic to speak to local PTOs and to children at local churches. Emily created a website that included the information presented during the workshops, including a video of the workshop for anyone to view.

Alea Gilhuly-MandelAlea Gilhuly-Mandel
Alea created a reading tutoring program and resource room for a local resource center, Master’s Manna of Wallingford. She tutored children in grades 1-5 in reading and comprehension skills. She created reading guide books with worksheets and reading plans to leave at the center for future use, translating a guide book into Spanish. She plans to study communications at Curry College in the fall.

Anna GlassmanAnna Glassman
East Granby
Anna organized the East Granby Pet Expo, raising awareness of three local pet shelters. The expo provided families with pets in the community a place to see K-9 demonstrations and meet local vendors of pet supplies. Many local shelters left with numerous donations due to the expo. Anna will study broadcast journalism at Keene State College, where she will also play on the college’s softball team.

Marisa HannMarisa Hann
Marisa taught several seven-week sessions in Zumba and healthy habits to students at the local Boys & Girls Club to combat child obesity through fitness and nutrition. Many of the students told her they would try to eat healthier and exercise more. She passed out workout DVDs to the students and left several lesson plans at the club. She is planning on majoring in math-related studies.

Erin Elizabeth HolleErin Elizabeth Holle
East Lyme
“Erin’s Eggs” was a non-profit charity organization that donated excess eggs from backyard chicken owners to local community food banks and soup kitchens. Erin’s organization has provided over 700 dozen eggs to hungry people in the community. Volunteers continue to provide the eggs to soup kitchens and food pantries. Erin is currently attending Louisiana State University and majoring in kinesiology with a concentration in athletic training.

Madeline HolzhauerMadeline Holzhauer
Madeline’s Gold Award project combined cheerleading and nutritional workshops to help inspire self-confidence and healthy habits in girls. She planned a cheerleading exhibition to help the girls experience healthy competition and activity. Instead of placements, girls received Spirit Awards. The workshop plan and pamphlets were given to a cheerleading coach for future use. Madeline is planning to become a physician’s assistant in either pediatrics or cardiac care.

Teresa HouranTeresa Horan
To get students involved with science, Teresa made seven kits filled with experiments for students in grades K-8. These kits are available for lending through the Salem Public Library. She also volunteered her time to lead two science demonstrations on Saturdays at the library for children in grades K-4 and 5-8. Teresa is attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland and hopes to become a physician.

Sydney HougrandSydney Hougrand
Sydney’s project, “A Day in the Wild,” was an annual event created for the community to learn about preserving the environment and the importance of doing so. Through fun activities and different environmental topics, people of all ages had the chance to enjoy the outdoors and learn new ways to protect the world they live in. Sydney has organized this day for the past three years and created a booklet for future use in planning the day. She is attending Colby-Sawyer College to study environmental science.

Josie HuntJosie Hunt
For her Gold Award project, Josie created a summer theater program at the Welles Turner Memorial Library. The program encouraged more preteens to go to the library. She also directed a show, “Harry Potter and the Obnoxious Voice,” with 15 children between the ages of 10 and 12. The program will continue next summer. Josie plans to become a high school French teacher.

Lauren JansenLauren Jansen
New Canaan
Lauren’s project, “Every Picture Tells a Tale,” was a photojournalism project focusing on the inspirational stories of pediatric cancer survivors. She reached out to local survivors, photographing six families. These photographs were displayed at the local library during a grand opening and will be touring the local community throughout the summer. A permanent display will be created in the fall. She will study communications at Boston University.

Victoria JardonVictoria Jardon
New Canaan
Victoria created “Hanger to Hanger,” a sustainable coat drive. She partnered with the New Canaan Department of Human Services and collected over 200 coats to give to New Canaan families in need. She started a club at her high school to help run the drives, building a large wooden box that will remain at the DHS offices. She will study nursing at Loyola University Chicago.

Meredith Janae KresicMeredith Janae Kresic
Meredith’s Gold Award project, “Band Build Up,” addressed the need for more interest in the band programs at Ridgefield High School. She led music sectionals and informational seminars with the students at Scotts Ridge and East Ridge Middle Schools, creating a PowerPoint and brochures to showcase the band program. These materials will be used for future eighth grade classes when they are preparing for their freshman year.

Sarah A. KukichSarah A. Kukich
East Lyme
Sarah brought together environmentalists, rowers, and homeowners along Rogers Lake for a weekend event to improve the lake and the community it serves. The event provided information on keeping the lake clean, safety tips, and advice on how everyone could work together to enjoy the lake. After the event, there was a greater sense of camaraderie among everyone and the Old Lyme Rowing Association drafted plans to build a new boathouse. Sarah will attend the United States Coast Academy in the fall.

Lauren LaDelfaLauren LaDelfa
Lauren’s Gold Award project, “Honoring Our Hoopin’ Heroes,” is a collection of high school girls’ basketball games. Lauren transferred old tapes of games onto DVDs and archived newspaper articles from that time. The DVDs were shown at a viewing party attended by former players and fans, and are available in the public library for anyone to watch. Lauren will attend Clemson University to study neonatal nursing.

Alexandra LaneAlexandra Lane
For her Gold Award project, Alexandra built a garden at the Audubon Center in Pomfret. She managed the expenses for the project, collected donations, and enlisted the help of local businesses and community organizations. The garden, now a permanent fixture at the center, provides a new educational background for visitors to the center and a habitat for local wildlife. Alexandra plans to become a flight attendant.

Breanne LubinskyBreanne Lubinsky
Breanne’s Gold Award project, “Chapel Trails,” created four gardens and restored two trails around an outdoor chapel for a local church. She also created ID cards of the plants for those who use the trails. Breanne planted perennials in the gardens so the plants will come back every year. She is currently a business major at Bryant University.

Sarah LuftSarah Luft
Sarah composed a celebratory DVD to honor Westbrook High School’s 50th Anniversary. She worked with members of Westbrook’s community to learn about the history and founding of the school to properly celebrate its five decades of existence. The high school will continue the project with yearly documentation forms to record details of each class. Sarah will study sociology at the University of Connecticut in the fall.

Katerina MarlinKaterina Marlin
South Windsor
Katerina organized an introduction to instruments program for elementary school children, enlisting the help of the high school Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra. They met in smaller groups with children, educating them about instruments and music. The band director at Katerina’s school has agreed to take over the position as leader of the program. Katerina will study speech language pathology at the University of New Hampshire.

Heather McLeodHeather McLeod
New Fairfield
Heather’s Gold Award Project, “The Art Walk in Hidden Valley,” promoted fitness through the creation of artwork. The community joined together and created art installations that were placed along the trails of Hidden Valley, drawing new hikers to the area. The Candlewood AAS Fund will continue to add to the collection. Heather will study fine arts and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Blayne D. MichalskiBlayne D. Michalski
Blayne’s Gold Award project enhanced YMCA-Camp Thundermoon’s outdoor activities offerings. She developed outdoor exercise activities and addressed recycling for the benefit of the community. Blayne developed these activities for camp attendees. Her project will be a part of the YMCA-Camp Thundermoon community in the future. She is studying applied mathematics and statistics at Bryant University.

Kelley MillerKelley Miller
South Glastonbury
Bringing the community together, Kelley “planted” a peace pole and garden at Earle Park, operated by the Connecticut Audubon Society. She hosted a special celebration day near International Peace Day, recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. An annual peace celebration will now be held at the site. She plans to become a veterinarian.

Paula Melissa MoorePaula Melissa Moore
For her Gold Award project, Paula organized a disability awareness workshop. Students in grades 5-8 at Odyssey Community School listened to speakers about disabilities such as autism, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. Students participated in activities to help them better understand others. It impacted the students and faculty, and they plan to continue the workshop next year. Paula will attend Manchester Community College in the fall.

Megan MorrowMegan Morrow
Reaching out to the senior community, Megan planted a perennial herb garden at Hancock Hall in Danbury. She also created a wheelchair accessible perennial herb garden in the rehabilitation area. Megan wrote a recipe and booklet utilizing the herbs for the nursing home’s recreation department. The gardens will be used to engage the residents. She would like to work in the medical field.

Victoria NortzVictoria Nortz
Victoria researched the history of the town of Salem, interviewing numerous members of the community to preserve their memories of the town and educate others about the town’s history. This oral history project and a bound copy of her interviews is in the Salem Public Library for visitors to read. Victoria is attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges and wants to become a child advocate attorney.

Karina OlsenKarina Olsen
Karina’s Gold Award project, “The Neighborhood Garden,” was a vegetable garden she built at her town’s local teen center, which grew ten different vegetables. These vegetables were donated to her town’s local food pantry. She also created bulletin boards with recipes for anyone to use. Karina organized a committee that would take over the care of the garden. She is studying education at Principia College.

Heather PalmerHeather Palmer
“The Very Hungry Artist” was designed by Heather as a three-week art session at Brookfield Library. She taught six art classes, each one featuring a different artist. Students made their own paintings and helped paint a caterpillar mural, which is featured in the library. Heather created a website about the artists she taught about and left behind her leftover supplies for the library. She is planning a career in medicine.

Callista PlattCallista R. Platt
North Granby
For her Gold Award project, Callista organized the Granby Community Health and Wellness fair, which showcased local health and wellness businesses in an effort to raise awareness of healthy living. Eighteen organizations participated in the fair. The town’s Parks and Recreation department can host the fair in the future. Callista will attend Becker College to major in equine studies.

Erin ProvenzanoErin Provenzano
Erin’s Gold Award project, “RIMBY: Right In My Backyard,” focuses on the importance of preserving Long Island Sound. She created a book that was used to teach fourth and fifth grade students about how to keep the Sound clean, which was distributed to the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. She also organized a beach clean-up day. Erin plans on studying environmental science.


Stephanie RobertsonStephanie Robertson
Stephanie’s Gold Award project, “Undercover Musicians,” was a music program held at Camp Greenknoll in the summer. Every day for one week, Stephanie planned different musical experiences for different age groups. Activities focused on cognitive learning and kinesthetic movement. Every summer at the camp will now feature an organized music session for the campers. She will be studying animal management at Slippery Rock University.

Rebecca SchmittRebecca Schmitt
Rebecca traversed Webb Mountain Park in Monroe and reblazed the three main trails, a process that makes the trails safer for hikers. Rebecca replaced the park sign and updated the map to include the placement of the numbered blazes on the trails. She gave a digital copy of the new park map to Monroe’s police chief. She is double-majoring in music and environmental studies at Gettysburg College.

Kira SchottKira Schott
New Canaan
Kira designed, built, and assembled program curriculums and materials for the Maritime Aquarium’s first “Mommy and Me” programs. The curriculum, based on maritime travels, focused on the ocean and wildlife. She tested the programs and trained educators at the Maritime Aquarium to deliver the curriculum in the future. She is attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall to study engineering, neuroscience, and biology.

Jordyn SchrageJordyn Schrage
Jordan developed a winter sailing program in Groton, which allowed underprivileged children the opportunity to learn about sailing, the sea, and protecting natural resources. Her program was developed to continue throughout the winter months. Jordan created a reusable workbook of nautical activities for the children. She is studying nursing at UConn Avery Point and would like to work in pediatrics.

Jaclyn SearlesJaclyn Searles
Jaclyn wrote lesson plans to further develop an existing school club, “The Best Friends Club,” to put students with and without special needs together to form friendships and learn from each other. She planned meetings, created activities, and organized events for the club members, leaving behind a how-to guide for a selected student coordinator. She is attending Baylor University in the fall for special education.

Elisabeth SmithElisabeth H.E. Smith
Elisabeth’s Gold Award project, “What is Your Water Quality IQ,” addressed the issue of storm water pollution. She created a brochure and a game board about the topic for the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority to educate children and adults about the issue. She also organized a group of volunteers to place markers on 195 storm drains in Stamford. She plans to study architecture in the fall.

Chelsea SumnerChelsea Sumner
For her Gold Award project, Chelsea designed a booklet and guide for Greenwich third graders to take on their town-wide history bus tour. The guide allowed the students to take notes and color, featuring facts about the places they visited. This is now a permanent addition to the third grade curriculum. Chelsea is studying business at Rutgers University.

Emily Ruth SurprenantEmily Ruth Surprenant
South Windsor
Emily’s Gold Award project educated girls in her local community about women’s leadership in American history. She created an online directory of female leaders for Miss Porter School’s website. The site will be maintained by the school’s Women’s Leadership Forum. She also created a biographical resource, documenting 50 American women who have influenced society. She is attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges to become an English educator.

Cassandra SvelnysCassandra Svelnys
Cassandra organized and led a fun exploration youth program in her town called “PB&J Activity Days.” Children played games, made crafts, and socialized in a safe environment. Cassandra asked children to bring a donation of peanut butter or jelly to each activity to teach community service. Her activity handbooks were distributed to various town groups. She will attend the University of Connecticut to study elementary education.

Victoria SzamockiVictoria Szamocki
Victoria designed and built a family trail at the West Thompson Dam. She constructed a footbridge connecting the trail over a gully and added a bench for people to use. She also created laminated scavenger hunt sheets to remain at the trails for children to use. She is studying atmospheric science at Lyndon State College and hopes to work at the National Weather Service someday.

Amanda ValaitisAmanda Valaitis
“The Timberland Sweep” is a bi-yearly trail maintenance clean-up day that Amanda created and organized, dedicated to light maintenance on a heavily used section of the Timberland Trails in Guilford. Trash was removed, trails were swept, and everything was maintained in order to promote a safe hiking ground. The sweeps will continue with the help of the community. Amanda is planning to study photography and business.

Noelle ViscontiNoelle C. Visconti
Noelle’s Gold Award project, “Music in Motion,” taught first graders about music by incorporating an art project with the lesson. Each week focused on a new instrument. Noelle created a brochure for the program that teaches others how to complete the lessons and create new ones. She is studying archaeological science at Penn State University while also taking required courses for medical school.

Natalie Von AchenNatalie Von Achen
For her Gold Award project, Natalie created a “memorial booklet,” which contains locations, inscriptions, and pictures of memorial trees, benches, and rocks around the town of Berlin. This booklet allows people to find memorials that had not previously been documented. Natalie is studying chemical engineering at the University of Connecticut.

Jacqueline WilliamsJacqueline Williams
Jacqueline cleaned and re-planted a memorial garden in honor of a young girl, Nicole Camputaro, with the help of Helen Street School’s PTSO and the sixth-grade class. At the dedication ceremony, she gave the school a book she created about how to care for the garden that will be given to each sixth-grade class. She is studying legal studies at Bay Path College.

Melissa WindoverMelissa Windover
Melissa’s Gold Award project, “Ready, Set, Gluten Free,” reached out to newly diagnosed celiac disease patients through a guidebook, gluten-free seminars, and a website including gluten-free recipes. The guidebook she created was given to all new nutrition patients at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and is also available on the hospital’s website. She is studying nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Shaylyn YoungShaylyn Young
South Windsor
Shaylyn’s Gold Award project helped young girls develop their self-esteem and confidence through activities and discussion. She taught girls ages 9-12 at the Trinity Boys & Girls Club summer camp. The classes were held over a seven-week period and ended with a fashion show. She created a scrapbook of the girls in the program. Shaylyn is interested in becoming a school psychologist or psychiatrist.

Samantha ZawistowskiSamantha Zawistowski
Samantha’s Gold Award project, “Bridging Generations,” involved the building of a garden at the local senior center near the entrance and in the front of the building. She brought together her peers, a Girl Scout Brownie troop, and senior citizens to work together on the planting of the garden, which helped improve the image of the building. Samantha is studying anthropology at Adelphi University.

Thank you to the 2012 Gold Award Committee!
Gold Award Committee

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