Hadley Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

  • Three 18-year-old Girl Scouts from Hadley, from left, Emily Koehler, Kathleen Kuzmeski and Aldona Noonan have received Girl Scouting’s highest honor, the Gold Award. CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Friday, June 17, 2016

HADLEY — Three 18-year-old young women from Hadley this week received Girl Scouting’s highest honor, the Gold Award, in conjunction with its 100th anniversary.

The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts presented the awards to Kathleen Kuzmeski, Emily Koehler and Aldona Noonan, after they worked more than two years on their Gold projects. Each spent time researching, networking and preparing their projects to be presented at local schools.

The Gold Award is presented to less then 6 percent of all Girl Scouts, according to community relations manager Dana Carnegie, who said it is “every bit as prestigious as an Eagle Scout,” which is the highest rank conferred on Boy Scouts.

In addition to being the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the award is also a potential path for women to get scholarships as they move toward college, and can allow them to jump up a rank if they enter the military.

The seven-step project is meant to inspire leadership and learning skills in high school girls. Each selects a topic, and then, over the course of what Carnegie called a “years-long journey,” explores it in some depth.

Kuzmeski, whose project was to organize a Special Olympics club at Suffield Academy in Connecticut, held 5K and 3K cross country races to end her project.

“We found a really cool connection with Special Olympics,” said Kuzmeski, who has been a Girl Scout for about 10 years.

Koehler wrote a book titled “How Does Milk Get to the Store?” using Mapleline Farm at 57 Comins Road as a case study, then read it to two kindergarten classes in Hadley schools.

Noonan, who is adopted, decided to use that personal connection to create a PowerPoint and video presentation about the “thoughts and feelings” that adopted children go through. She showed her final work to 7th graders at Hopkins Academy, some of whom she knew were also adopted.

“It took a lot of time and effort,” said Noonan.

That the three finished their projects successfully is a “real testament to the leaders they’ve become,” said Carnegie. “It is the pinnacle of their Girl Scouts experience.”

Carnegie expressed pride in the young women for their achievement, complimenting them on taking a “real journey of putting themselves out there.”