Girl Scouts of Connecticut congratulates all of our 2014Gold 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.
Amylee educated Newtown children about the differences and similarities between themselves and children from Nigeria, helping them become global citizens. In addition, books and seeds were collected and sent to Primary School Akowa in Nigeria so students there could start their own garden club. She plans for her project to be continued by the African Aid Association. Amylee plans to study biology on a pre-med track.
Rose Kristin Arezzini
Rose created the Special Sisters Club at Greenwich High School. She paired girls with special needs with “sisters” to help them feel comfortable in their surroundings and provide opportunities for further interaction in their community. A student from Darien High School, with assistance from adult volunteers, will continue the club and its activities in the future. Rose plans to start a Special Sisters Club at Molloy College, where she is taking classes in music therapy and voice.
Nicole V. Bellantuono
Nicole organized a pet adoption event in her community to benefit Companion Pet Rescue. She brought together dog groomers, trainers, and a veterinarian to answer questions for prospective dog adopters. In addition, Nicole created a blog that educated readers on how to care for animals. The blog’s information was included on a pamphlet she created and handed out at her event for future use. Nicole plans to become a veterinarian.
Eliana unified five cheerleading teams by leading practices with each one individually, then combining them into one large team for an exhibition. By building a foundation of teamwork, she prepared eighth grade girls for joining a unified team in high school. She created an instruction manual that the President of the Greenwich Youth Cheerleading League will use in the future. She is attending High Point University and majoring in business administration.
Rachael renovated a garage owned by Mystic Seaport that was also being used by the Stonington High crew team. She assembled a team to fix the structure, replacing bottom boards around the base of the building, installing windows and outer walls, and adding a fresh coat of paint. Mystic Seaport and the crew team will continue to maintain the garage, and Mystic Seaport plans to install new doors.
Heather developed a donation system for instruments in support of Newington Public Schools’ music education programs. She educated the community on the benefits of music education and helped them donate used instruments. The Newington High School music website includes permanent information about the donation system. In addition, Heather created brochures that will remain at Town Hall. She is attending Boston University and planning a career in physical therapy or nutrition.
Elizabeth created Elizabeth’s Cyber Café at a local retirement home in an effort to bridge the technology gap between generations. She taught the elderly how to use computers and utilize different programs so they could better connect to their families. She created booklets and DVDs that will be available for future use at libraries and other retirement homes. Elizabeth will attend Furman University this fall and major in Biology.
Grace’s Gold Award Project, HEMMA (High school - Elementary Musicianship Mentoring Association), is a program in which volunteer high school musicians provide low-cost private lessons for children in grades K-4. The program provided lessons for more than 100 children. Grace also brought the community together for a recital. HEMMA lessons will resume during the upcoming school year. Grace is planning to study philosophy or psychology in the future.
Kaitlyn’s Gold Award project, Project Ocean, educated preschoolers about the planet’s marine life. An in-depth set of lessons were taught to the children, who learned about ocean creatures from around the world and completed projects based on a particular animal. Kaitlyn’s brother will continue with the lessons in the future. Kaitlyn is attending Sweet Briar College and plans to become a veterinarian, specializing in marine mammals.
Erica partnered with Hawkwing, a nonprofit in Glastonbury, to host a literacy camp for children on the Lakota Sioux Cheyenne River Reservation, helping children foster a love for reading despite a lack of access to books. Erica also collected nearly 2,000 books for the reservation. Hawkwing will continue the literacy camps in the future. Erica plans to study psychology, sociology, or criminal justice in the future.
Olivia created a constant source of locally grown vegetables and herbs for Master’s Manna, the town’s food pantry. She built garden beds of vegetables and constructed a fence to protect them from wildlife. Olivia also created a cookbook of healthy recipes for the recipients of the food to use. The garden will be replanted and tended by volunteers every year. Olivia is studying anthropology at UConn.
Bethany’s Gold Award project, Unite the Fight – Open Minds to Open Closets, supported the LGBT community at Newtown High School. She created an interactive website called “Unite The Fight,” featuring blog posts by students, health resources, and original student artwork. An upperclassman in the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance will take over as managing editor of the website. Bethany will attend Brown University in the fall and study physics.
Michelle held a scarf drive and produced scarves for the Dress for Success organization, which promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire and career development tools. Michelle also created a booklet on how to wear scarves to create different outfits. The booklet and scarves will be available at Hartford’s Dress for Success office for future use. Michelle plans to pursue a career in elementary education.
Christy improved the classroom library system at Gainfield Elementary School, which allows students to select books by reading level. Christy collected, leveled, and distributed nearly 900 books to students. She developed a guide of how to note a book’s reading level and resources for teachers to use in the future. The Gainfield PTO has agreed to continue an annual book drive for the library. Christy plans to study elementary education.
Olivia’s Gold Award project, Hands-On-Science, was geared towards students in grades 3 to 5 to grow their scientific knowledge. She created a video program of at-home experiments that use household materials to teach a scientific property. She also created a program-in-a-box for the Ridgefield Discovery Center to go along with the videos. This box will remain at the center for future use. Olivia is studying mechanical engineering at Villanova University.
Victoria addressed the lack of emergency preparedness within Darien’s elderly community. She created a booklet and presentation to educate senior citizens about staying safe in times of crisis. At the end of the class, each participant created their own starter 72-hour emergency kit to take home. Victoria trained underclassmen to continue the class in the future. She is attending the University of Michigan and plans to study chemistry.
Giana led her church’s youth group in developing prayer books to send to the country of Haiti. She worked with several volunteers to ensure the books were sent to the country and given to the children, overcoming challenges due to Haiti’s import restrictions. Giana is attending Salve Regina University, studying psychology, and is enrolled in the Applied Behavior Analysis Program.
Paige’s Gold Award project, Deeper than Image, educated ninth grade students and Girl Scout troops in her town about the importance of a healthy body image. Paige created original lesson plans while also conducting workshops for troops, examining media images and how they impact girls. She is currently working on having her lesson plans implemented in the high school curriculum. Paige plans to study fashion design.
Kathryn Ann FitzMaurice
After noticing middle school students moving away from her local parish, Kathryn engaged these students to continue learning about their faith and created fun ways for them to stay involved with Saint John Church. She aimed to create an enjoyable church environment and a safe place for students to grow. This outreach will continue with other youth group members. Kathryn is studying Communications at Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame.
Callie Jane Gargano
Callie spent the year as a Community Outreach Coordinator at Hebron Avenue Elementary School, teaching students about the importance and value of community service. These students went on to create their own service projects, assisting nearly 15 local organizations. Callie created a binder of her contacts and lesson plans for the next coordinator. She plans to study accounting and become a CPA in the future.
Analise educated residents living in the municipality of Santa Maria de Jesus in Guatemala about the importance of clean water while spreading awareness of water-borne diseases. She created pamphlets that will be distributed at different mission sites throughout Central America. Her work inspired HELPING HANDS Medical Missions to collect donations of water filters for other villages. Analise will attend UConn in the fall and study mechanical engineering.
Grace created the Prayer Angels program, which paired older members from St. Francis Parish with children from the church’s first communion class to participate in activities over an eight month period. Grace planned all activities for the group, including a potluck dinner and a Christmas story-telling seminar. The Prayer Angels program will continue with a member of the church’s youth group. Grace is studying journalism at Boston University.
Amanda Marie Gustafson
Amanda recruited a team to restore and beautify Bennett Park in Bethel to make it a safer, more enjoyable place for residents. She rebuilt picnic tables, repaired a flag pole, provided a new American flag, and weeded gardens while adding new flowers. Her sister Girl Scouts in Bethel will continue to maintain the park in the future. Amanda plans to study dance therapy.
Kelsey worked with the daycare at Hartford Public High School’s Nursing Academy to teach health and fitness courses to teenage mothers and their children. Over the course of six classes, Kelsey educated the attendees about exercise, how to shop for healthy foods, read food labels, and ways to save money by cooking at home. Kelsey will continue the course next year. She is interested in art and interior design.
Lindsay’s Gold Award project, Violence Against Women Awareness Campaign, shed light on the issue of human trafficking and online predators. She planned and hosted an evening event for students, community members, and teachers to learn how state troopers catch online predators. Lindsay also organized the 1Billion Rising flash mob dance at Woodland High School, which will be held next year. Lindsay is attending Boston University and will continue advocating for women’s rights.
Tess’s Gold Award project, STEM Careers 4 Girls, was a series of workshops aimed at encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. A group of 15 high school freshmen girls attended the workshops, listening to female role models and participating in hands-on activities. Tess created a website that will serve as a future resource for girls interested in STEM. Tess is attending MIT and studying environmental engineering.
Emily replaced missing veterans’ markers in the town’s cemeteries. After conducting a large amount of research, she was able to map out all the veterans’ markers at New West Cemetery, raising the stones so that visitors could view them. Her local American Legion will continue to install markers and local Girl Scouts will use her map when replacing flags. She plans to study business and international relations.
Mary created an annual science fair in her town. She organized the fair, putting together rubrics and guidelines for participants, and prepared scientific demonstrations. Mary paired students from Avon Middle School with mentors from the Avon High School Science Club to construct projects together. The AHS Science Club will continue the fair on a yearly basis. Mary plans to study electrical engineering in the future.
Bridget Conlon Kolf
Bridget taught four 30-minute lessons for second graders about acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. She surveyed the students at the beginning and end of the lessons, noticing a change in their answers after the lessons were complete. Ryerson Elementary School will continue with Bridget’s lesson plans in the future. As a result of her project, Bridget is planning a career in special education.
Jacquelyn held assemblies for seventh grade girls at Whisconier Middle School to help them adjust to middle school life and build their self-confidence, while avoiding the formation of cliques and negative behavior. She also created a website for girls and parents to ease them through middle school transition. High school students will continue these assemblies in the future. Jacquelyn is attending Susquehanna University and studying art history.
Ruth created scrapbooks about 50 historical sites in the town of Killingly. Working together with younger Girl Scouts, she assembled the books with photos, educating Girl Scouts and parents about the town’s history. These scrapbooks, available at the town’s library and historical society, each contain ten blank pages for future additions. Ruth is enlisted in the United States Navy and will leave for basic training in August.
Gina created the Stratford High DoSomething Club, a volunteer club based on the DoSomething organization. Gina recruited students to join and worked with community organizations to develop volunteer opportunities for club members. Throughout the course of the year, the DoSomething Club completed over 300 hours of volunteer work. A new president was selected to continue the club in the future. Gina is attending Bridgewater State University and studying social work.
Carolyn G. Mark
Carolyn researched the history of Enfield and created a self-guided historical tour for visitors and residents alike to learn more about the town. Her tour pamphlet lists 25 historical sites of Enfield, with fact sheets about these sites located around town. The Enfield Historical Society will continue directing and managing the tour. Carolyn will attend Delaware Valley College in the fall and study Large Animal Science and Wildlife Conservation.
Elisa brought the joy and comforts of animals to the families at the Marshall House homeless shelter. She recruited students from Farmington to paint a mural with the help of the resident children at the shelter. In addition, she organized “joy of animals” activities over Columbus Day weekend, including animal-based crafts. A local youth ministry will continue this outreach at Marshall House. Elisa plans to continue her pet therapy volunteer work.
Caroline hosted connection nights at Jesse Lee United Methodist Church to bridge the gap between senior citizens and teenagers. Participants bonded over dinner, games, activities, and discussions about the differences between the two generations. Caroline created a website on how to start connection nights. The church is seeking grant funding to permanently install the program for the parish. Caroline is studying geology at The University of Texas at Austin.
Addressing a lack of resources for children seeking therapy, Lesley established a library at Family Centers in Stamford. The library was created in honor of two librarians who were tragically killed in a car accident. The resources now available at the Family Centers library will assist therapists and their clients in the future. Lesley will attend the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis and study international business.
Bethany received necessary zoning permits and engaged the community in the construction of an outhouse at the Batz Property, a town park in Ellington. The property previously had no outhouse for visitors to use. The outhouse features an environmentally-friendly composting toilet, which helps limit the need for maintenance in the future. Bethany is attending the University of Maine at Farmington and studying secondary education with a specialization in math.
Ariel Rose Perry
Ariel addressed the issue of child obesity by developing programs about healthy eating and exercise for children at the Margaret Griffin Child Development Center. She gave the children fruit and vegetable seeds and taught them how to plant a garden. She created an exercise video for the children and left the center with a play box about healthy eating for future use. Ariel plans to study chemical engineering.
Taryn constructed a memorial garden at her church in an effort to remove people from their technological devices and take time to remember the past. She also held a workshop to discuss the negative aspects of technology while encouraging attendees to research their culture. The church’s youth group will maintain the garden and require all devices to be turned in before meetings. Taryn plans a career in law.
Elizabeth’s Gold Award project, Be Who You Are, educated preteen girls ages 10-12 about the importance of positive self-image and self esteem. Girls discussed media imagery, watching a video about how models’ pictures are heavily edited and the impact those photos have on young women. Elizabeth’s faculty mentor will continue the classes next year. Elizabeth is attending Sacred Heart University and studying nursing.
Stephanie increased awareness of the United Church of Christ’s Silver Lake Conference Center and summer camp. She created a YouTube series for campers about summer programs, camp activities, and what to pack for camp. She also hosted a presentation for all age groups about the camp. The presentation and videos will be used by the church in the future. She plans to study Political Science and pursue a career in politics.
Morgan created Shopping With Ease, a two-part program giving senior citizens better access to healthy food. Morgan’s project provided coordinators to assist senior citizens in ordering food from local grocery stores online. She then created a cookbook specifically tailored for the needs of senior citizens to help them prepare nutritious meals. This project will be continued by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association. Morgan is attending Dartmouth University.
Amanda J. Schwartz
Amanda developed educational classes for middle school students on Internet safety and cyber bullying. Her interactive presentations included a video that she produced, documenting the story of a Connecticut girl who took her own life as a result of cyber bullying. Approximately 200 students and faculty heard the presentation. Amanda’s website was shared with the school guidance department for distribution. She is attending Brigham Young University.
In an effort to preserve environmental resources, Caitlin organized and led a Green Team at the Congregational Church of New Fairfield, instituting eco-friendly events and programs. She organized several recycling programs for the church to reduce damage to the environment while educating church patrons. The Green Team will remain a part of the church in the future. Caitlin will study early childhood education at Naugatuck Valley Community College in the fall.
Mary taught girls from kindergarten through sixth grade about the Connecticut Humane Society and how to care for pets. In addition, Mary created donation bins for the Humane Society that she placed around her town, “adopt me” bandanas for pets, and “thank you for adopting me” posters for those who adopted pets. The donation bins will remain around town for future use. Mary plans to study animation.
Colleen addressed the needs of the Pediatric Department at Norwalk Hospital. She collected more than 80 costumes for children of all ages, helping lift patients’ spirits at Halloween. She also recruited the help of volunteers to create more than 300 activity kits for children who were staying overnight or longer at the hospital. A Redding Girl Scout troop will restock items in the future. Colleen plans to study business.
Whitney raised awareness of the dangers of texting and driving to the junior and senior classes at Woodland Regional High School. She organized a presentation in partnership with Survive the Drive and created her own video. The Woodland Regional Student Council has agreed to present Whitney’s video to future junior and senior classes. Whitney is attending Post University and planning a career in the film industry.
Rebecca created SASS: Semester(s) Away Support System, which was a reentry program for students that spent time away from Miss Porter’s School at another school for a semester or whole year. Through the “Being Home Series,” students could discuss what they learned while they were away and ease back into their routine. SASS and the “Being Home Series” will continue at Miss Porter’s School. Rebecca will attend Elon University and major in Public Health.
Kelly taught students in grades K-4 about the importance of recycling through her “Caring Crayons” project. Through a variety of math and recycling lessons, she showed students how to help the environment. In addition, Kelly collected 52.6 pounds of crayons from students to donate to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. St. Mary’s School will continue Kelly’s lesson plans in the future. She will attend Montclair State University and major in Public Relations.
Emily made a number of improvements to Shelton’s dog park. With the help of volunteers, she built a picnic table and two benches. She added new flowers to decorate the park and replaced a nearby guardrail with a stronger one to ensure cars wouldn’t come too close to the park’s fencing. The Friends of the Shelton Dog Park will maintain the improvements. Emily is studying physical therapy at Quinnipiac University.
Emily improved her town’s senior citizen community center by replacing the flooring and painting the walls to provide a comfortable place for seniors. She also connected seniors with local Girl Scouts through a variety of activities. The town’s human services director will maintain the center’s improvements and local Girl Scout leaders will continue to plan activities between the generations. Emily will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall.
Claire developed and led tours at Weir Farm National Historic Site that offered a new topic for visitors – the lives of the children who lived at the farm. She researched the site’s oral histories and presented this information to visitors. A binder with tour information was given to the farm’s rangers who will continue the tour. Claire is attending Eastern Connecticut State University and studying history and secondary education.
Marina L. Tomei
Marina’s Gold Award project, A Step in the Right Direction, educated children on the benefits of running, walking, healthy foods, and safety. She taught children in grades 3 through 6 about good exercise habits while practicing running skills with them. She provided the attendees with a tip sheet at the end of the clinic. Her two assistants will continue the clinic moving forward. Marina plans to study international business and marketing.
Emily developed a two-year summer chapel curriculum for area churches to utilize, helping them address a need for summer engagement of youth. A copy of this curriculum was given to the United Church of Christ Connecticut Conference Library so that churches around and outside the state could utilize the curriculum in the future. Ten churches are currently utilizing the curriculum. Emily is attending Western New England University and studying accounting.
Elizabeth Van Winkle
Elizabeth led a summer writing program at The Pequot Library in Southport. She designed the program to inspire a love for writing in elementary school students, creating interactive games and writing prompts. She also encouraged the students to work in groups to complete writing activities. A Fairfield Girl Scout Troop will continue the program in the future. Elizabeth plans to study English and history in college.
After seeing local residents and visitors physically unable to complete walking tours of Guilford’s history, Megan created a historic Guilford bus tour. She trained bus tour coordinators and compiled self-guide binders that people could use in their own cars to follow along. The project will be continued by Guilford Parks and Recreation and the Guilford Preservation Alliance. Megan plans to study music education.
Lauren created a lacrosse camp for summer campers at the East Windsor Reservoir. This class allowed children to learn how to play the sport and see if they wanted to continue to play in the future. She came up with fun, interactive ways to teach the sport, utilizing relay races and other methods. Camp counselors will continue the lacrosse camp in the future. Lauren is planning a career in dermatology.
Erin created a volleyball clinic for students in grades 5 through 8 at the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club in order to give them playing experience before trying out in school. Erin also created a video about basic volleyball skills for the Boys and Girls Club and the Greenwich Library. Erin’s teammates will continue the clinic in the future. Erin will attend the University of Mary Washington and study anthropology.
Madeline’s Gold Award Project, Music Within Reach, was a series of music lessons for elementary school children. Madeline recruited high school students to be assistant teachers for 24 courses over two years, hosted at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich. Madeline trained one of her assistant teachers to take over the program next year. Madeline is attending the University of California, Berkeley and studying biology.
Deniz addressed the problem of invasive plants in her local community. She formed a team and visited five different areas of her town, finding invasive species and eradicating them. She created a booklet and presentation that she shared with her community about invasive plants. The booklet will remain at the local library for future reference. Deniz plans to study biomedical engineering and molecular cellular biology.
Jamie Lynn Young
Jamie educated her local community about ways to connect to children with autism spectrum disorders. She created a webinar and website that provided information of how schools and teachers could better connect to autistic students. Jamie presented this information to various audiences. The Capitol Region Education Council will make Jamie’s webinar part of their paraprofessional training. Jamie is studying human services and criminal justice at Quinebaug Valley Community College.