MCHS students receive highest Girl Scout honor

by Mark McDermott

Eight Mira Costa High School students this summer received the Gold Award, the highest honor given by the Girl Scouts. 

John Bowes, the superintendent of Manhattan Beach Unified School District, praised the MCHS girls who received the award. 

“The Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious in Girl Scouting and is only given to the less than 6 percent of Girl Scouts,” Bowes said. “The achievement represents many months of work addressing areas of critical need….The award requires spending at least 80 hours of planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others, and has a lasting impact on its targeted community that can be measured.” 

The award recognizes projects created and executed by each of the Girl Scouts. The MCHS students receiving the award were Lia DeFonce-Martini, Jordan Karambelas, Molly Gin, Samantha Gin, Mollie O’Grady, Katherine Mueller, Aleena Parikh, and Drew Vranesh. 

DeFonce-Martini created “Lia Cares: Helping The LA Homeless.”  

“Lia’s Gold Award Project made an impact on her community by establishing a hygiene product

donation system,” according to the Girl Scouts recognition publication. “Lia worked with the Los Angeles Mission on Skid Row and American Airlines to create a sustainable toiletry donation system. American Airlines flight attendants have donated over 2,000 miniature toiletry hygiene products to homeless individuals in need. Lia created a digital platform, conducted interviews, and created a documentary on the homeless community in downtown LA to educate individuals in her community and beyond.” 

Molly Gin created “Carport Transformation.” 

“Molly’s Gold Award Project made an impact on her community by transforming the carport storage space of a domestic violence women’s shelter into a boutique for the mothers to shop in for clothing and housewares,” according to the Girl Scout recognition publication. “This will help the mothers with self-confidence and self-esteem as they will be able to shop for their families themselves rather than needed clothing and housewares being picked out for them.” 

Samantha Gin created “A Better Way to Feed the Community.” 

“Samantha’s Gold Award Project made an impact on her community

by helping a local food bank,” the Girl Scout publication said. “She remodeled the storage space by cleaning, adding shelves and painting. She also created an organization system for the space to store donated food and clothing. Lastly, Samantha wrote Standard Operating Procedures for the food bank to maximize efficiency and outline the safety of volunteers.” 

Karambelas created “Permaculture is Our Future.” 

“Jordan’s Gold Award Project made an impact on her community by designing and constructing an aquaponic system on her high school campus. This system consists of a lower bin containing fish and an upper bin containing crops that utilize recycled water from the lower bin. This system saves water and land space while educating the community on ways to implement sustainable agriculture.” 

O’Grady created “Hygiene Education and Mychal’s Learning Place. A description of the project was not included in the Girl Scout publication, other than to recognize it as a Gold Award winner. 

Mueller created “Young Women’s Safety PreparednessProgram – Safe, Sound, Smart.” 

“Katherine’s Gold Award Project made an impact on her community by teaching young women how to live safely and confidently while living independently in college. Through online seminars, a website and originally designed pamphlets provided in local schools, Katherine educated girls on how to navigate hazardous scenarios they may face in a society where women are more often victimized. She also held an in-person self-defense seminar for girls at her school, which taught participants key self-defense and confrontational tactics to prevent violence.” 

Parikh created “Bridging Generations.” 

“Aleena’s Gold Award Project addressed the lack of training on digital technology in the elderly community. The digital divide is real and is growing amongst our elderly. Seniors are eager to learn to use modern phones, applications, shop online and communicate with family members. This project provides seniors with the necessary support to become digitally literate and self-sufficient in a digital world.” 

Vranesh created “Unhooked.” 

“Drew’s Gold Award Project addressed the issue of social media and cell

phone addiction among teenagers and how it affects their mental health,

by forming a crochet club to get teens off of their screens. Teenagers

getting unhooked from their phones and hooked onto crocheting was the goal. Her club helped spread awareness about screen-related mental health issues, revived the lost art of crocheting, brought teenagers from all different groups together, and donated their creations to organizations.” ER 

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