Two Ranch teens earn Gold

Girl Scouts win organization's highest award

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Gold Award recipient Garrett Ann Nevins developed a project teaching special needs students to make fleece pillows for the Ronald McDonald House.
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For her Gold Award project, Elisabeth Collins directed an improvization class at five Douglas County schools.
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Two Highlands Ranch teens have earned the highest award in Girl Scouting.

Elisabeth Collins from ThunderRidge High School and Garrett Ann Nevins from Mountain Vista High School were both awarded the Gold Award, a service project-based accolade involving research and team-building with the end goal of meeting a community need.

For her project, Collins founded and directed “Improvisation Sensation!” for five high schools in the Douglas County School District. The event consisted of an improvisational workshop, dress rehearsal, dinner and community performance attended by more than 100 people, according to the Girl Scouts of Colorado.

The project gave participants the opportunity to overcome public speaking anxiety and to perform spontaneously in a caring and supportive environment, Girl Scouts of Colorado spokeswoman Amanda Kalina said. Collins shared her curriculum with the Girl Scout community for future use.

For her project, Nevins spent a week teaching 18 high school special-needs students to make fleece pillows with the goal of learning a life skill and connecting them with the community. The project required the students to focus on following directions, develop and use math skills, and work on hand-eye coordination while making the pillows, which were donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

Working with a student intern program at her school that helps special needs students, Nevins said she was inspired by one of those students.

“Being around the kids, I really fell in love. They're so fun to work with,” Nevins said. “One day, one of the students said, `I wish I could help others like others help me.' It really opened my eyes.”

Nevins, who is looking to pursue a future career in special education, said the project took about a year to complete with fundraising efforts and application deadlines. Other student interns with the program and teachers also assisted in the project.

“Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award designation is truly a remarkable achievement, and these young women exemplify leadership in all its forms,” said Stephanie Foote, CEO of Girl Scouts of Colorado. “They saw a need and took ownership of helping to develop a solution and took action to make it happen. Their extraordinary dedication, perseverance and leadership is making the world a better place.” 

Last year, 38 Girl Scouts statewide, one from Highlands Ranch, earned Gold Awards, Kalina said.

Only about 1.7 percent of Girl Scout alumnae have earned the distinction nationally since the program's inception, totaling 1 million out of 59 million, according to Kalina. The Gold Award has been part of the Girl Scout program since 1916. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements, according to the organization.

For more information about the Girl Scouts of Colorado, visit www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org, call 1-877-404-5708 or email inquiry@gscolorado.org.