Nine local ‘golden girls’ earn Scouting’s highest honor

The group photo features, from left to right in the back row: Gold Award recipients Gabrielle Liflander, Cara English, Virginia E. Stewart, and Christina Brown. From left to right in the front row: Gold Award recipients Samantha Salkin and Danielle Annunziata.  — Girl Scouts of Connecticut photo

The group photo features, from left to right in the back row: Gold Award recipients Gabrielle Liflander, Cara English, Virginia E. Stewart, and Christina Brown. From left to right in the front row: Gold Award recipients Samantha Salkin and Danielle Annunziata.
— Girl Scouts of Connecticut photo

It seems the state found its pot of gold this year, celebrating 70 Connecticut Girl Scouts who earned the highest National Girl Scout honor — the Gold Award.

In order to earn the award, senior and ambassador Girl Scouts in grades ninth to 12th must spend at least 80 hours researching issues, assessing community needs and resources, building a team, and making a sustainable impact in the community. A Gold Award recipient’s accomplishments reflect leadership and citizenship skills that set her apart as a community leader.

Gold Award recipient Danielle Annunziata 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 will be attending Manhattanville College in the fall.

Nicole Annunziata created a marketing plan for the Off-Beat Players, Inc. 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. She will attend Southern Methodist University.

Christina Brown 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.

Cara English 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.

Caroline Feda 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 on 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.

Gabrielle Liflander titled her Gold Award project, “Math Girls Add Up!,” which 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.

Samantha Salkin 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.

Virginia E. Stewart titled her Gold Award project, “Read and Share Book Swap.” She collected age-appropriate books for the town’s preschool. She also led her team to build a bookcase and gave a presentation 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.

Kathryn Cornell Webster 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.

The Gold Award is the highest achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting, meeting national standards set by Girl Scouts of the USA. Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to “go gold,” an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

This year, 70 young women from around the state earned their Girl Scout Gold Award, an unprecedented number and the most recipients in Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s history.

For more information about the Gold Award or how to become a Gold Award volunteer or mentor, visit

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