Girl Scouts Gleam at the 2019 Gold Award Ceremony


Girl Scouts across southeast Florida gathered to be celebrated for their hard work and excellence at our 2019 Gold Award Ceremony on Sunday, March 11 at the Parkland Golf and Country Club. This year we recognized 18 amazing girls, who took the lead to make a sustainable impact in their community, and earned the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve, the Girl Scout Gold Award. Through a great deal of hard-work and perservenerance, these young women have become part of a century-old legacy, joining the ranks of Girl Scout’s best and brightest.

Each Girl Scout who went for Gold chose a specific issue that they identified in their own communities. From there, the girls worked with an advisor to build a plan of action to create a sustainable difference that will continue to grow after their project is complete. Each project requires a minimum of 80 hours of work from the girl herself, meaning that in our council, over 1,440 cumulative hours were spent making the world a better place!

We wish we could highlight all of the amazing projects in great detail, but for brevity we have chosen three unique and outstanding projects to highlight below. Throuhout the year we will highlight each girl and her project on the GSSEF Social Media pages, but if you want to read more about all 18 Gold Award Girl Scouts you can checkout the 2019 Gold Award Ceremony Program.

Jaleesa Smith | Plantation

One Note at a Time

To say Jaleesa is musically inclined is a bit of an understatement, she’s played the saxophone for more than six years and taught herself how to play nine different instruments! Even with all of this talent and experience, when she got to high school Jaleesa felt she was at a disadvantage. She worked hard to catch up to her classmates and decided she wanted to help others so no one will ever have to feel unprepared as they start on their musical journey.

I learned that when it comes to teaching you have to be patient but at the same time demand their respect and attention. I decided to major in Music Education in college and doing this project allowed me to mentally confirm that teaching music is something I will continue to pursue.

Jaleesa’s Gold Award project addressed the issue many band directors face when they have a beginning band; that students need a tremendous amount of guidance, but one director can’t teach everybody in the short time they have together. Jaleesa created a comprehensive guide for each wind instrument in the band, then taught and shared the information with beginning music students. By creating and teaching these handbooks, the stress of teaching the fundamentals of music to students won’t set the band program and directors behind. The Jazz band at Sunrise Middle School and the beginning, concert, and advanced bands at Fort Lauderdale High School all benefited directly from Jaleesa’s project.

Sophia Viner | Parkland

Engineering Club for Girls

Today, women remain significantly underrepresented in the technical fields, specifically in engineering. Sophia wanted to use her passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to help close the gender gap by involving more girls early on and influencing their future education and career choices. So, she created GEAR GIRLS, a weekly after-school Engineering Club at Westglades Middle School, that introduced girls in grades 6-8 to the world of engineering. The purpose of the club was to increase interest in and awareness of specific fields of engineering while developing creative confidence, improving attitude, building teamwork, and acquiring technical skills through hands-on, project-based experiences.

In addition to practical experience in engineering design, the club provided a forum for informational presentations featuring female scientists and cutting edge technologies. Club activities, which Sophia designed and prepared, combined presentations, hands-on engineering challenges, experiential learning, and discussions.

Some of the most successful and exciting activities that I did with the girls included bottle rocket design, reverse engineering of a portable speaker, construction of a working speaker out of paper plates and electromagnets, a spaghetti tower engineering challenge, introduction to engineering graphics and 3D modeling software, and machine shop/manufacturing intro.

Sophia also created a GEAR GIRLS Instagram which she shared with girls at the “Invent it. Build it” Convention and she presented her project at the Annual National Conference for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Minneapolis, MN. At the conference, Sophias work was shared with other STEM educators, as well as collegiate and industry leaders from all over the country.

Kai Zaragoza | Pembroke Pines

Stringing It All Together

Kai has played violin since a very young age and grew distressed over the dwindling number of middle schools offering music education in Broward County. She set out to change this by creating a new 29 member string orchestra at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School. Kai’s orchestra offered lessons for violin, viola, bass and cello with weekly instruction every Saturday for five months. By involving her community, Kai was able to provide all of the instruments and books, as well as volunteers who agreed to provide individual instruction. She personally instructed students in the instruments and taught them how to read sheet music.

Additionally, the students who participated in the orchestra could attend an afterschool program where they were offered ‘live’ instructional classes on video, from another local middle school with different hours. As a result of the string orchestra Kai created, Lauderdale Lakes Middle School now offers orchestra in its regular year-round curriculum. This has created so much interest, that a total of five classes are filled with aspiring musicians. Kai has also been approached by a local high school and Lynn University, requesting that she work with them on their own start-up student orchestras.

Aside from teaching students to play string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass), the most successful aspect of this project was the creation of a string orchestra in a community that was absent of orchestra instruction. Seeing instruments in boxes being moved into the hands of children and played to create music is amazing!

Kelsey bio

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