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Going for gold

Local scouts earn top honor

From left: Julia Vela, Laura Hessen, Jenny Vyskocil, and Nicole Kudla recently earned Girl Scouting’s Gold Award. Photo Submitted (click for larger version)
May 26, 2010 - By Leah Yanuszeski, Review intern

Two Lake Orion High School seniors, along with one senior from Notre Dame Preparatory School in waterford and another from Clarkston high school, earned the highest honor one can receive from scouting.

No, not the coveted 'Eagle Scout' honor awarded to Boy Scouts. Instead, these four Girl Scouts recently received the Gold Award—the final chapter in their Girl Scout career.

Nicole Kudla and Laura Hessen of Lake Orion, Julia Vela of Clarkston, and Jenny Vyskocil from Notre Dame Prep added a gold pin to their vests at a May 2 banquet, symbolizing completion of a lengthy service project, ending with the Gold Award.

The project's subject, decided by the girls themselves, discussed dangers of abusing prescription drugs and the growing recreational usage of normally doctor-prescribed medications. The girls logged over sixty hours throughout the project's duration.

Job shadowing and over 160 hours of community service was involved as well. "It's kinda like homework," said Hessen.

A four-year homework assignment, to be correct. Troop 175 started the Gold Award project four years ago, however the four girls were the only ones to continue with the lengthy service project.

The girls got the idea from the increase in deaths due to abuse of prescription drugs.

Hessen described one of the main motivators for this topic—a 'pharm party.'

"You take a bunch of meds and dump them together," she said. "You take whatever, and you don't know what's what."

Raising awareness and letting parents know about the dangers, they say, was their goal. The final project, titled 'Stay Off the Pharm,' included a video, produced by and starring the four scouts.

"We interviewed someone from Star EMS, a pharmacist, and a school nurse," Vela explained.

Vela and Vyskocil have been in Girl Scouts for eight years, Hessen for twelve, and Kudla for thirteen. All agreed to be relieved to have the work done, after staying with Girl Scouts for so long.

"It was definitely worth it," said Kudla. The four recipients of the Gold Award receive a 'Membership for Life' to the Girl Scouts.

The girls, along with troop Leader Mary DeWitt, reflected on their years in Girl Scouts. The five took a 'farewell trip' to Savannah, Georgia and saw where Girl Scouts first began. The troop also held two Lock-Ins for other Girl Scouts, as well as trips to Mackinac Island and Cedar Point.

"I feel truly fortunate to be a part of such an important and awarding program," said Vela.

The girls plan to continue being a part of Girl Scouts, even though their Gold Awards signified their completion as a Girl Scouts.

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