Girl Scouts honor a strong year

FAIRMONT – The cookies are all sold and, in a few months, the camps and trips will begin. But Sunday marked the official end of the year for area Girl Scout troops.

The Girl Scouts Court of Awards ceremony was held at Grace Lutheran Church in Fairmont on Sunday afternoon. Girls from Daisies to Ambassadors crossed the Girl Scout bridge to move up to the next level, with two Ambassadors graduating.

“It’s the conclusion for the year, but also an acknowledgment of what the troops did this past year,” said Jennifer Nielsen, who helped organize the ceremony. “It also acknowledges the adults who volunteer along with the girls.”

This year is significant due to several of the older girls reaching for the highest achievements. There were five Silver Award projects and one Gold project.

“I don’t want to say it’s rare, but we don’t see a Gold Award project every year,” Nielsen said. “And we have five Silver awards, with three of them involving two girls. So that’s eight girls, and their leaders we will be recognizing. This is more silvers than usual, and we’re thrilled about that. We also have two Bronze awards.”

The Bronze Award is the highest that can be achieved by girls in the Juniors category (grades 4-5), while Silver is the highest for Cadettes (grades 6-8). The Gold award can be achieved by Seniors (grades 9-10) and Ambassadors (grades 11-12).

“I don’t know if this is the most ever, but I know I haven’t seen this many in the years I’ve been here,” Nielsen said. “That is a lot of hard work and services coming out of these girls.”

It is more difficult to keep girls interested in Girl Scouts once they reach the age where more clubs, activities and sports are available.

“We have two different troops of eighth grade, and most of them achieved their Silver Award,” Nielsen said. “It’s very encouraging that they are still here and bridging to Girl Scout Seniors.”

The Gold Award was completed by Rachel Botzet, a sophomore at Fairmont High School who created a list for women experiencing a life change and needed help. The change could be anything from unemployment, to leaving an abusive relationship, to not being able to get food. Botzet was able to create a booklet of agencies available for help, which will later be published online.

“It is a very serious project,” Nielsen said. “And she did an excellent job.”

Silver awards went to Mikayla Soelter and Emma Ward for work done at the Fairmont soccer complex; Jenna Pavich for making bedding for the Martin County Humane Society; Jewel Reimers for making more than 100 blankets for Options Pregnancy Center; Emma Koehler and Courtney Lopau for creating teenage kits for the hospital; and Ramsey Freeman and Sadie Sandersfeld for increasing epilepsy awareness.

Bronze awards were awarded to Troop 33405 for hosting a “He and Me” father/daughter style dance in March, while Troop 32943 earned a Bronze Award for organizing a Juliette Low birthday party in October. Low founded Girl Scouts of the USA.