St. Louis, MO – August 26, 2016 – Five Chesterfield area girls—Anna Casey, Bailey Becker, Aparna Kasinadhuni, Allison Licavoli and Lili Hostetler—earned the Girl Scout Gold Award this year by completing unique community service projects.
For her Gold Award project, Anna Casey, a 2016 graduate of Lafayette High School, sought to instill a love of reading in children in her area. She organized a team of 10 high schoolers to visit a second-grade class at Green Pines Elementary School one morning every other week. The older students read with the younger students, and helped them create A to Z books. Casey also coordinated a book drive, collecting almost 900 books for Our Little Haven, a residential care facility for children. She said she plans to pursue a career in elementary education and enjoyed getting a glimpse into the field through this project.
“Working with the kids was very rewarding,” Casey said. “Seeing them learn and smile and laugh confirmed my career path. I gained patience working with the kids who learn at different speeds, and I developed better communication skills, talking with kids and adults.”
Lafayette High School graduate Bailey Becker chose her Gold Award project after noticing an overgrown trail at a retirement facility near her home. Becker, who is attending Missouri State University in Springfield, said she never saw residents using the path or nearby bench at Gambril Gardens Retirement Community. She removed the invasive honeysuckle that had overtaken the trail, and reinforced the bridge. Becker also coordinated with a licensed arborist, who gave a presentation to the residents about area trees and plans.
“The residents were really happy about my project,” she said. “The trail is an opportunity for them to go sit outside and enjoy nature.”
Aparna Kasinadhuni, a senior at Marquette High School, wanted to create a way for students in the area to find consistent and long-term volunteer opportunities. Many teenagers complete service hours for school and other activities, she said, but only sporadically, making the experiences not as fulfilling as with routine volunteer opportunities. She created a website, stlvolunteen.com, with opportunities divided into four categories: community, healthcare, education and animals. Visitors to the website can choose a category and find opportunities and descriptions about each organization. The site links to the volunteer webpage of each organization, which Kasinadhuni says, “helps people get directly to the information they need, saving time and getting them involved as soon as possible.”
“My generation will set the guidelines for how we will take our community to greater heights,” she said. “With this website, teens and even adults who are thinking about volunteering can find something that fits their personality and their passions.”
Allison Licavoli has always loved math, and drew inspiration for her Gold Award project from an experience tutoring a younger student in the subject. A senior at Marquette High School, Licavoli designed Mathtastic Resources for Elementary Parents, at mathrep.com, a website for educators and families of elementary students. She created videos and documents showing step-by-step instructions for completing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems, using new Common Core methods. Parents and educators praised the site, and several teachers reported using the videos as part of their lesson plans.
“I gained so many relationships with my peers, elementary school teachers and even some higher-level educators [through this project],” Licavoli said. “I learned that I can do anything that I set my mind to, and nothing can stop me from achieving Gold.”
When Lili Hostetler, a senior at Metro Academic and Classical High School, learned that her former preschool, Claymont Preschool in Ballwin, needed a way to help new students and families acclimate to the school, she created a children’s book to satisfy the need and earn her Gold Award. She drafted the book and worked with an English teacher at her school to edit it, and illustrated each page by hand. After scanning the illustrations, she created both digital and hard copies to donate to the school. My First Day at Claymont Preschool follows a mouse and his dinosaur best friend—the bright colors and easy-to-follow story line make it a great resource for parents and families to read before attending the school.
“The book also teaches kids about including others when making friends,” Hostetler said. “One character, a bear, is kind of shy, but the mouse invites the bear to play, gaining a new friend and confidence in going to preschool.”
The Gold Award is the highest national award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador, girls in grade 9-12, can earn. Attaining the Girl Scout Gold Award requires a significant amount of time planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others and has a lasting impact on its targeted community with an emphasis on sustainability.
Less than one percent of all Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, putting them among an exceptional group of women who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world. Some of the Gold Awardee benefits are:
- A Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award and enlists in the US Armed Forces, immediately rises one level in rank
- Colleges and universities recognize the achievements and leadership abilities of Girl Scout Gold Award recipients by offering scholarship programs
- Achievements of the Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are acknowledged by many government and non-profit organizations