The Gold Award is Girl Scouting’s top honor, and winning it should bring pride to four Morristown High School seniors.
But it’s not enough, they were told this month by Bette Simmons, chairperson of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.
“Use all your abilities to leave this world in a better condition than you found it,” Simmons challenged the young women, urging them to follow examples set by former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, trailblazing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, pioneering astronaut Sally Ride and feminist Gloria Steinem–all former Girl Scouts.
Anna Cliche, Nya Federoff, Christina Ledford and Kylee Strasser received their awards at the Alexander Hamilton School in Morristown on March 2, 2019. Guest speakers included Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty, and Morris Township Mayor Jeff Grayzel.
Bette Simmons reminds award-winners of female trailblazers. Video by Kimberle Strasser:
Fewer than 6 percent of Girl Scouts receive Gold Awards annually. Equivalent to an Eagle Scout badge for boys, the Gold Award recognizes a civic project of at least 80 hours completed within a two-year period.
Cliche taught a series of basic self defense classes to high schoolers preparing to start college.
Federoff created a documentary, Gold Girls, about four Morristown girls and their challenges in pursuing careers in the arts. The film premiered at the 70 South Gallery last fall.
Video: ‘Gold Girls’ by Nya Federoff:
Ledford’s Start2Sign project involved teaching sign language to 3rd graders and starting a club at Morristown High for students to learn how to sign.
Strasser’s Peace for Parents helps parents of special needs kids de-stress while their children participate in Special Needs Athletic Programs (SNAP). The award-winning student filmmaker also received the Presidential Service Award last year for Peace for Parents.
“By achieving your gold awards, you are distinguishing yourselves at the local level, for striving to make the world you live in a very better place,” said Simmons, a Morristown High graduate who is vice president of student development and enrollment management at the County College of Morris (CCM).
The Zonta Club of the Morristown Area named Simmons its 2018 Woman of the Year. She is active at the Morristown Neighborhood House, the Morris County Human Relations Commission, and the Calvary Baptist Church Community Development Corporation, among other organizations.
Noting this is Women’s History Month, Simmons exhorted the Gold Award winners to emulate great American women who preceded them. She challenged the students to remain honest and fair, friendly and helpful, and considerate and caring.
‘Strive for excellence in all you do.’ Video by Kimberle Strasser:
“Never sell out, and never give less than your very best. Always remain true to yourselves. Always guard your honor,” Simmons said. “Celebrate the diversity of your fellow human beings, give service freely, expecting nothing in return. Seek to improve life for others.”
“I challenge you to be courageous and strong in all you do. Stand strong in the face of adversity and share your courage with those around you–especially those who are smaller and weaker than you.”
Think before speaking or acting, respect yourself, and continue to “improve your mind, body and spirit,” Simmons counseled the young women.
“Strive for excellence in all you do and recognize the accomplishments of others,” she said, adding: “Remember that freedom is not free.”