Girl Scouts of Connecticut congratulates all of our 2013
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.
Learn more about earning the Gold Award.
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West Warren, MA
Caelyn’s Gold Award Project, “Support the Libraries Month,” helped raise awareness on the importance of the town’s local libraries. Caelyn ran programs for all ages, including town officials. Her efforts resulted in visible, increased patronage to the libraries. Caelyn is double-majoring in equine business management and psychology at Quinsigamond Community College. She plans to open a horse barn to provide therapeutic riding for troubled women.
Sarah created the Girls Club, a mentoring program for girls in the Norwalk Grassroots Tennis organization. Darien High School students acted as mentors to girls, helping them have fun in a safe environment and to make friends. The project will be carried on with a girl who was a mentor in the original program. Sarah will pursue her interests in math and science at Washington University in St. Louis this fall.
Alyssa addressed a concern of disrespectful behavior at the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield by creating a “Code of Conduct” with fellow Boys and Girls Club members. She engaged young adults and teenagers by enforcing this code, resulting in a better experience for club members. Two directors at the club posted the guidelines Alyssa developed in each room and they continue to enforce the code. Alyssa is planning a career in education.
Danielle worked with Off-Beat Players, Inc., a theater company that brings together youth from all backgrounds to participate in a performing arts program. Danielle worked behind the scenes and onstage, creating a video that can be used each year to raise awareness of the organization. The video can be viewed on the Off-Beat Players website and will be presented on an annual basis to the Hand-In-Hand Club at Greenwich High School. Danielle is attending Manhattanville College.
Nicole created a marketing plan for the Off Beat Players to use annually to recruit actors and supporters for the group. The plan was to help gain financial supporters, volunteers to work at the performances, and to bring more community involvement and attendance at the shows. The plan contained forms for participants and a listing of all the job descriptions for the Off Beat Players. Nicole also created a new system for the ticketing and refreshment committees. Nicole will attend Southern Methodist University.
Victoria collected books and built a book shelf for the Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes home in Bridgeport, a home for recovering female soldiers returning from overseas. Victoria also organized a book club for the women in the house that met every 4-6 weeks. The bookshelf, books, and book club remains at the home and the Ridgefield and Wilton Service Units will collect books each year for the home. Victoria is attending Northeastern University.
Alex reached out to St. Martin De Porres Academy in New Haven to help with the school’s field hockey team. She organized practices for the New Haven team on-site at Guilford High School, as they practiced alongside Guilford’s field hockey team. She also created a playbook to assist the team in games and collected equipment for the team’s future use. Alex will pursue a career in sports communication.
Rebecca organized an awareness campaign at her synagogue that focused on educating girls in developing countries. She also collected over 300 books for a school that empowers girls in Afghanistan as well as for Girls, Inc. in Waterbury. She created a lesson plan for teachers at her high school and her school’s French Honor Society will make the book drive an annual event. She is studying biology at Yale University.
Kiernan wrote a children’s book inspired by the work of Margaret Feeney, who founded Feeney Farm, an organization that collects healthy foods for Connecticut families in need. Kiernan’s book about healthy eating was read at schools and at after school programs in Bridgeport. 100 copies were made of the book and distributed to children who attended a reading and copies remain at a local library. Kiernan is planning a career in broadcast journalism.
Rosie implemented a composting system at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School. She educated the children about composting by hosting assemblies for 600 students, running short science classes in the school’s garden, and organizing a game for the students about composing. Rosie recruited volunteers to continue the composting system and ensured that Huckleberry Hill Elementary staff would empty the bin each month. In the future, she plans to focus on environmental studies.
Caroline created a week-long photography program for children at the Carver Center in Norwalk. She raised funds and held a camera drive to ensure the children had the right equipment. The center now has 10 digital cameras, her lesson plan, and inspirational video for future use. The students’ photos were also posted permanently in a photo gallery at the center’s gym. She is considering a career in photography.
After taking a cooking class at Greenwich High School and being unable to taste anything due to a gluten intolerance, Christina developed a gluten-free cookbook for students with a similar allergy. Thanks to Christina’s efforts, students with gluten intolerance will now have their own kitchen dedicated to gluten-free baking. Christina’s cookbook will be utilized in future cooking classes and she will be distributing copies of the recipes to local middle schools. She will study Communications at James Madison University in the fall.
Lindsay created the Burns Leadership Club for seventh and eighth graders at Burns Latino Studies Academy. She held activities for the students in the club to learn team-building skills, grow their confidence, and help them respect each other. She created an activity booklet for the club to use in the future. Lindsay plans to major in math and would like to become a teacher or an actuary.
Emily ran a summer reading program, Scholastic Book Club, in conjunction with the Danbury public school system for students of the Sensational Summer Day Camp. She designed a curriculum to encourage kids to read and develop their literacy skills. Emily plans to run the program this summer and train a younger student to ensure the program’s continuity. In the future, Emily plans a career in educational policy.
Keanna recruited student volunteers and planned several seminars to help senior citizens learn about technology. Students gave presentations, answered questions, and provided seniors with hands-on help with computers, eReaders, iPads, iPods, and cell phones. Keanna, alongside Youth and Family Services and the Estuary Council of Seniors, plans to continue the tutorial summers as a community service program for students. Keanna would like to pursue a career as a pediatrician.
Jackie’s Gold Award project, “Interact,” brought senior citizens and children together. Jackie planned and carried out festive socials for children in the community and residents of The Gables at Farmington. The groups spent time together talking and doing crafts. Jackie encouraged area Girl Scout leaders to continue the project, giving them a list of affordable craft ideas and contact information for The Gables. She is studying Psychology at St. Michael’s College.
Bree’s Gold Award project, “Book Bags,” was created to foster an early love of reading and increase basic literary skills for preschool children. She created interactive activities to accompany selected books and included an evaluation sheet for families to fill out once the book was completed. Through the placement of 15 Book Bags at three local preschools, her project will continue to help children develop reading skills. She is currently attending Smith College.
Margaret created a nature center at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington out of the old pump house on the property. She worked with the naturalist at Hillstead to create exhibits at the center. One of these exhibits focused on a mastodon found on the property. The nature center will continue to be frequented by patrons and maintained by the museum in the future. Margaret is planning to attend law school.
Natalie recruited a team of volunteers to help organize books and renovate the Abington Social Library. She created a blog so town residents could view the process of the renovations and hosted an open house for people to see the new layout of the books. Through several surveys, she increased traffic to the libraries, particularly among young children and Woodstock Academy students.
Kristina Maria DeConti
Kristina’s Gold Award project sought to raise awareness of the risks of premature birth. She presented on the topic to middle school girls at the New Britain YWCA. The YWCA has incorporated this presentation into their STRIVE program Kristina refinished a rocking chair that was given to Saint Francis Hospital’s Nenoatal Intensive Care Unit, while enlisting the Newington Senior Center Knitting Club to knit blankets and hats. She will attend the University of St. Joseph in the fall.
Norma Elizabeth DeFilippo
Norma updated the nursery at the First United Methodist Church in her town. She recruited a team to clean the floor, repaint the walls, and collect new toys and a changing table for the room. She also created a curriculum for children too young to attend Sunday School so that they could learn Bible stories. The nursery is now on a regular cleaning schedule for maintenance. Norma is attending Wheelock College.
Julianne’s Gold Award project, “Comforting Pillows,” was a series of a three workshops with volunteers who assembled 70 pillows for patients in the orthopedic and oncology units at Danbury Hospital. Each pillow was packaged with an inspirational card. The home economics teacher at New Fairfield High School incorporated this project into her curriculum to ensure that pillows are donated every semester. Julianne is studying mechanical engineering at Boston University.
Courtney ran a program on self-confidence, fitness, and nutrition for girls in grades 5-8 at a local Boys & Girls Club. The program included fitness classes, special guests such as a nutritionist, and the cooking of healthy foods. Courtney also took the girls on two field trips to a health foods store and a restaurant to practice healthy habits. A Boys & Girls Club employee will continue the classes next year.
Kira’s Gold Award project, “Back To Your Roots,” focused on engaging families with nature while promoting Brookfield’s parks. Kira hosted programs about archery, fishing, and animal life, and organized a treasure hunt and a senior hike. She also created a website with information about many of Brookfield’s trails as well as a binder with information about the trails and the events she hosted. Kira is pursuing a career in genetic research.
Cara developed a program that promoted physical fitness through dance to teenagers at her local Boys & Girls Club. She taught hip-hop dance classes and held nutritional workshops in an effort to combat child obesity. She also created a hip-hop DVD and a healthy eating habits book with lesson plans and activities for future use. Cara plans to study math or science at the collegiate level.
Sarah developed an academic component to her local middle school’s annual Field Day Step-Up event. Her goal was to allow fourth graders who didn’t excel at sports to feel comfortable engaging in a literature and logic-based activity. This academic program will become a part of the annual Field Day for future students. Currently at Wellesley College, she is considering joining the Peace Corps after graduation.
Victoria’s Gold Award Project was entitled “Learn. Engage. Prevent.” It was a program designed to educate about the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. She worked with the children of the Fit-To-Go program at the Wallingford YMCA to create the program and developed a public service announcement that the children starred in. The leader of the Fit-To-Go program has volunteered to teach this program every year. Victoria will attend UConn to study nursing.
Caroline created a weekly book club at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich for first and second graders to enhance their reading skills. She also created a comprehensive inventory of children’s books at the club. Caroline trained volunteers how to utilize this system and left a book club box behind to help others create a book club. She plans to major in English and become a teacher.
Jacqueline renovated the Green Room for arts students at Southington High School. She also created a copyrighted book, “Front & Center: A Warm-up and Workshop Book for Performing at Your Best,” and sent it around the country to help theatrical performers explore their craft safely. The school’s Drama Club will continue to maintain the Green Room. Jacqueline plans to double major in Foreign Affairs and Drama at the University of Virginia.
Janelle K. Gerardi
Janelle’s Gold Award project, “F.R.O.G. (Food Right Out of the Ground),” is a project that benefitted the New Canaan Food Pantry. Janelle collected extra produce from local gardeners and the New Canaan Farmer’s Market for the New Canaan Food Pantry. Altogether, Janelle collected 2,156 pounds of produce for the local food pantry. F.R.O.G. will be handed down to the St. Mark’s Youth Group to continue in the future.
Hayley’s Gold Award project, “Science Stars Program,” was an afterschool science program for third and fourth graders at a local elementary school. She held two sessions that met once a week for nine weeks, helping students perform fun experiments, play games, and learn about science. She created a website and binder with information on how to recreate and continue the program. In the future, Hayley hopes to study child psychology.
Virginia worked with the town of Guilford and the local town historian to construct plaques about the town’s history. She organized a team of volunteers to help with the placement and construction of the plaques, that are now located on lampposts along the Guilford Green. She also presented to town groups about the value of the information. The Guilford Green Committee and the town will care for the plaques in the future.
Michelle B. Gunther
Michelle created the Michael Abelon Memorial Garden, in memory of the founder of the Connecticut IB Academy. She built the garden for people to find hope and relaxation in their lives when they visit. She also created a plant guide that would help teachers and students tend the garden in the future. Michelle is majoring in biochemistry at Northeastern University and plans a career in pathology or genetics.
Ann Marie Guzzi
Ann Marie created a recycling and sustainability program for elementary and middle school children, integrating the use of arts and crafts. Held at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club in Fairfield, Ann Marie presented statistics and facts alongside craft projects to help students understand the importance of recycling. Her program is being integrated into the curriculum of existing classes at the club. She plans to study engineering at the collegiate level.
Kristina’s Gold Award project, the Special Needs Dance Club, was created for special needs students who wanted to learn how to dance. Kristina met with special needs students from September to June at the high school and taught various dance steps. She organized a recital for the students and made a video to share with the community. Her club has been adopted by the Special Services Department in town. Kristina plans a career in applied psychology or human development.
Kimberly taught first grade classes at Scotland Elementary School and the Ridgefield Rotary Club about the Native Americans that once lived in the Ridgefield area. She shared artifacts from that time period and talked about Native Americans’ culture and their place in Ridgefield’s history. She left first grade teachers with the presentation she created for future classes. Kimberly plans to study elementary education.
Kasey interviewed senior citizens in her town, capturing what it was like to grow up in Killingworth 50, 60, and 70 years ago. She created DVDs of these stories for students and town residents to learn about the town’s past. These DVDs have been requested by the Killingworth Library and Historical Society, as well as Haddam-Killingworth High School. She is studying biology and plans a career in medicine.
Nicole’s Gold Award project, “Project Feed the Need,” addressed the need for donations to a food pantry and soup kitchen in her community. She recruited high school students to volunteer at the soup kitchen and help collect food for the pantry. Student groups have since adopted the food pantry as its cause and will continue to collect donations for them in the future. She is studying journalism at Boston University.
Emma organized blanket making classes to make 86 incubator blankets for premature babies. She led discussions for different age groups about the difficulties that premature babies face and created a video tour of Danbury Hospital’s NICU. She created a coloring book for siblings of premature babies, which was distributed to Fairfield County hospitals. A high school student has volunteered to continue this project. In the future, Emma wants to study marketing.
Catherine Clara Kannam
Catherine organized a team and built unit set pieces for local community theater productions at John Lyman Elementary School in Middlefield. The sets were used for a production of Disney’s “The Aristocats” and will be used this year for a production of “Annie.” The school will store them for future use. She plans to study theology and music while continuing her commitment to community service.
Lauren’s Gold Award project sought to educate teenagers about safe boating practices. She hosted a safe boating event that informed teens of boating safety rules, regulations, and the basics of vessel operation. A video about the event can be seen on a local public access channel as well as on the Darien Boat Club website. The Darien Marine Police will continue the event in the future.
Sydney created Community Emergency Alert Boards, which addressed an issue of communication during emergencies and times of need in her town. The boards allow citizens to be easily notified of where to find food, water, and shelter. The boards are able to be moved around from one area of town to another depending on the circumstances. Sydney is studying chemistry at UConn.
Anastasia organized a summer camp for women and children at Interval House, a domestic violence shelter. The camp, named by the children as “Summer is a Blast Camp,” featured fun games and activities to allow the children to have fun during their summer vacation. The children’s program director at Interval House will facilitate the camp next year. Anastasia is planning a career in environmental studies.
Kaitlin planted a garden to benefit the Pomfret Food Pantry. She built a team that weeded, watered, and picked the produce for the food pantry and for the town’s senior center. She created healthy recipe cards that were handed out with the produce and she will tend the garden in the future. Kaitlin is planning a career in the health industry with a focus of nutrition or personal training.
Colleen created the Literary Learners Book Club, a group for seventh-grade girls. The club was intended to bring girls together in a relaxed, comfortable setting, and help them develop critical reading and analysis skills of what they were reading. Colleen created a website with instructions about the club, including suggestions for books for future meetings. She plans to study communications in the future.
Amy developed and implemented a running and developmental program for girls ages 8 and up. For ten Sundays in the spring, Amy led the group of girls on a run, while including workshops on cooking and nutrition, and offering Zumba for a change of pace. Lyme’s Youth Services department has decided to make the program an annual offering for girls. Amy will study biology at Sewanee: The University of the South.
Karin Ashley Leiper
Karin created the Hewitt Farm Butterfly Garden on the town’s newly purchased Hewitt Property. It is the first town attraction to be placed on the property, now open for families and children to visit. The garden was planted with perennials that will bloom each year. Karin joined the “Friends of the Hewitt Farm” group that will care for the garden. She plans to study radio broadcasting and communication.
Gabrielle’s Gold Award project, “Math Girls Add Up!,” was a 10-week program for third and fourth grade girls that introduced them to famous women in math and science, taught at the Waterside School in Stamford. She created a website for Waterside students to download fun math and science activities and provided a copy of the curriculum to Waterside administrators. Gabrielle is planning a college career in math, science, or engineering.
Erin Marie McCurley
Erin wanted to introduce children from other countries to American stories they might not have heard at home. She created a theater program and encouraged the children to get up in front of a crowd and perform, as they learned something new about American culture. This theater program will now become a part of the Caroline House’s summer program each year. In the future, Erin plans to study elementary education.
Julia Rose Messier
Julia hosted the Keep Safe Self-Defense Workshop for children in grades K-5 to learn how to identify a stranger and simple self-defense techniques. Julia created an instructional video of the workshop, with a copy available at the Cromwell Belden Library and the Parks and Recreation Department. Julia also created a website about the workshop’s activities. She is considering a career in education.
Marissa renovated the town of Plainfield’s pool area and created a work of art. She recruited a team of volunteers to repaint the walls while saving spaces for safety signs. She then decorated the walls around the pool with art work representing endangered marine life animals, further educating patrons of the pool for years to come. The renovations debuted at the Plainfield Home Show, with many town residents showing their approval. She is studying public relations at UConn.
Kathleen started an adaptive swimming program for people with disabilities at her town’s local athletic facility. She created a presentation to train volunteers, developed game cards and gathered game supplies, and got a mat for participants to get in and out of the pool easier. All of the material Kathleen created for the program will remain at the athletic facility for future use. Kathleen plans to study medicine.
Allison E. Murphy
Allison expanded the children’s garden at the Tarryville Dairy Farm by installing educational signs and creating a nature scavenger hunt. She also researched, wrote, and installed a history board about the farm. The signs were made of sustainable materials and all files of her work were sent to the dairy farm administration for future use. Allison is attending UConn and studying nursing.
Catherine Marie Newsom-Stewart
Catherine created an anti-bullying group for middle-school students. She met with the group once a week to discuss relational aggression, a form of bullying that occurs between friends. Catherine led activities to help enhance the girls’ knowledge on what relational aggression is, what it looks like, and how to prevent it. She created booklets about relational aggression that will remain in the guidance offices at Whisconier Middle School.
Brittany’s Gold Award project, the “Adopt-A-Grandparent Program,” paired local high school students with elderly residents at the Gladeview Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. She picked pairs based on a questionnaire taken by everyone in the beginning. The pairs then visited with each other during two months, playing games, reading, or speaking together.. Brittany trained volunteers to continue the program in the future. She is studying elementary education at Emmanuel College.
Mary’s Gold Award project, “Just Drive,” was a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving among Ridgefield High School students. The project consisted of a series of morning announcements to educate the student body, as well as a Facebook page that collected data on driving habits of students and provided a forum for discussion. Mary created a binder on the campaign for the high school’s student life office. She hopes to pursue a career in writing.
Samantha formed The Friends of Animals Club at Eastern Middle School, which focused on educating students about safe ways to interact with animals and how to help animals in the community. Students explored the stereotypes surrounding pit bulls and environmental issues related to bird migrations. Samantha recruited a fellow student to continue the club. Samantha would like to study animals and the ways they can aid in therapy for humans.
Kate H. Shannon
Kate set up a program at Neighbors Link in Stamford to teach English as a second language to pre-school children. She recruited volunteers by emailing teachers and professors about her project, and ensured a younger Girl Scout troop will continue the project in the future. Kate is attending Manhattanville College in the fall and will double-major in history and American studies.
Simi held six workshops educating elementary school children on proper pet care in an effort to reduce the number of animals abandoned or placed at shelters. She developed a presentation on the topic and created brochures for the workshops. These brochures will continue to be produced and handed out to parents. She will attend Mount Holyoke College in the fall to pursue a career as a veterinarian.
Katie created an anti-bullying club at her high school. The club met once a month to participate in anti-bullying skits and create a personal collage on what anti-bullying meant to each individual. In addition, Katie designed and presented an anti-bullying curriculum geared towards grades 3 through 5, sharing with 35 campers at a local camp over a three-day period. The club still meets at her school once per month. She is studying interior design at the Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Virginia E. Stewart
Virginia’s Gold Award project, “Read and Share Book Swap,” collected age-appropriate books for the Town of Greenwich’s preschool. She also led her team to build a bookcase and presented at a local church about how parents can teach their children to read. There will now be a continuous book swap at the preschool. Virginia will attend Sacred Heart University in the fall.
Morgan’s Gold Award project, “EJ’s Butterfly,” was inspired by her friend, EJ Carfi, who passed away due to a rare skin disease, commonly called the “butterfly disease.” She created a mural of a butterfly with pictures of people smiling and hung it under a poem that EJ wrote. This mural will remain on display at the Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club. Morgan will attend Elon University and study communications and marketing.
Lila Reid Sullivan
Lila created the Cottage Youth Advisory Board, a committee of teenagers that helped adults at The Cottage, a group home for adults with special needs. She engaged both groups of people to become more involved in the Darien community, setting up opportunities for outreach and activities. The advisory board will continue with a new president next year. Lila plans to explore her interest in science at the collegiate level.
Kelly created a computer resource center at the Theresa A. Rook Retirement Community to address the needs of senior citizens to learn new technology. She hosted various computer training sessions for the residents, showing them basic computer skills and how to use email. The computer resource center will be a permanent fixture to the facility. Kelly plans a career as an engineer in the future.
Alaina Van Slooten
Alaina spent her summer at the Tolland Historical Society, creating an inventory of artifacts and documents. She catalogued cards of artifacts into a database and taught junior docents the same process, creating an easier system for town residents to research their town’s history. Members of the town’s 300th Anniversary Committee will be able to use this information in preparation for the town’s celebration. Alaina would like to pursue a career in science.
Alyssa’s Gold Award project, “Wii Love Kids,” benefitted children at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. She earned money to purchase a Wii game system for the center. Alyssa coordinated three community workshops and educated parents and children on the benefits of using the Wii for physical therapy. The Wii game system will remain at the center for future use. Alyssa will attend the University of St. Joseph to study biology.
Amy formed an all-girl Jazz Band with girls at Old Saybrook High School, after noticing that there were few girls involved in the community jazz programs. The band performed at jazz nights and at the elementary school to promote the importance of music. Amy passed leadership of the band onto a fellow student. Amy will attend UMass Amherst this fall to study physics and astronomy.
Marya von Schmidt
Marya taught young athletes at the Darien YMCA about how to properly warm up and cool down after their workouts. She led them in stretching activities and taught how to protect their body. She made brochures that will be placed in the YMCA main lobby and online at the YMCA’s gymnastics website. Marya will attend Curry College this fall to pursue a career in special education.
Kathryn Cornell Webster
Kathryn designed Braille menus for Cosi Restaurant in an effort to ensure that visually impaired persons had the same opportunities to choose from a menu. With the help of her team that included persons fluent in Braille, she created seven menus for the restaurant. At the beginning of each menu, she created a contact sheet, informing readers and the restaurant about the project and the Connecticut Association for the Blind’s contact information.
Jackie’s Gold Award project addressed a concern about too much technology use and too little outdoor activity in children. She created and designed a children’s book about the benefits of playing outside. The book was read to three different classrooms and will remain at the Darien Library in the children’s section for future use. Jackie plans to study music as well as business or math in college.