St. Louis, MO – Sept. 23, 2016 –Olivia Sheppard, Amanda Shipley and Brianna Laffoon were among 42 young women in eastern Missouri to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award this year. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Gold Award, the highest award attainable in Girl Scouting.
Sheppard, a 2016 Fox Senior High School graduate, created an outdoor classroom for the more than 500 students at Sherwood Elementary School.
“My vision for the project was a safe space for students to learn that could be utilized for anything from classroom science experiments to a fun place to read or write, or for art classes to use to create in,” Sheppard said.
She created a clean, welcoming outdoor classroom out of an existing space by power-washing the brick, priming and painting the walls, building and staining benches, pouring concrete and mulching the area. The outdoor atmosphere offers opportunities for hands-on learning, and boosts creativity in students. Now, teachers of all grades and subjects can use the space to add an extra dimension to their curriculum.
A lifelong reader, Shipley, a senior at Fox Senior High School, wanted the young children in her school district to also love reading. She created literacy centers for each of the five preschools in the Fox School District, building five storage benches and recording herself reading 10 children’s books. Each of the benches includes books, CD players and headphones so the young students can read along as they listened to the recordings. Shipley also coordinated with an elementary school drama club to ensure that new recordings would be produced in the coming years for children to continue to enjoy.
With plans to study secondary education in college, Shipley said completing her Gold Award project taught her a lot about communicating with children and administrators and how to teach young students.
For her Gold Award, Laffoon, a 2016 Seckman High School graduate, sought to improve the exterior appearance and interior functionality of Vandover Baptist Church in Fenton. The church’s resource room was cluttered and unusable, and the landscaping outside was overgrown with weeds. Laffoon organized the resource room to make it easier for staff and volunteers to find and store their materials. She painted an interactive mural on the wall of the nursery, which teachers can use to educate children about bible verses, animals and other lessons. She also replanted the church’s rose garden, increasing the organization’s curb appeal to be more welcoming to visitors and community members.
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