CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Girl Scouts earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement awarded in Girl Scouts. Nationwide, only six percent of Girl Scouts receive the prestigious award. 

Skyler Browning-Doorn, Katie Collington, Patricia Crigler, Sophie Kapica, Sarah Lamb, Diana Singh, Lauren Teague and Hannah Tognola were honored at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park where their projects were displayed on Tuesday, June 19.

To earn a Gold Award, each Girl Scout worked on a large-scale project of her choosing that averaged 65 to 80 hours to complete. The young women researched, investigated, engaged others, created a plan for and carried out projects that made a difference locally and globally. Each project required a 30-page final report that outlined lessons learned in the process and how to sustain the endeavor.

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Skyler Browning-Doorn, diagnosed with a tree nut allergy as a 4-year-old and subsequently other food allergies, created a survival guide. To navigate the world of food allergies, Browning-Doorn said her project offered “tips and tricks.”

Patricia Crigler arranged for Newark, North Plainfield and Jersey City high schools to receive 26 refurbished musical instruments. The flutes, clarinets, trombones and a xylophone saved Jersey City High School’s marching band. “This project changed me in ways I can’t describe,” said Crigler.

Sophie Kapica’s idea to save paper through simple but highly effective ways such as printing on both sides of paper, paying bills online and reducing margins in a document, culminated in a deal with Dyson Ltd to donate eight hand dryers, valued at $350 each, to Chatham High School. The environmental-friendly dryers were installed in the high school’s bathrooms last month. “Simple steps but huge savings,” said Kapica, noting that hand dryers reduce one’s carbon print by 70 percent.

Sarah Lamb’s “Jumping Juniper” project brought music, political discussions and Bingo to Juniper Village, an assisted living facility in Chatham. Lamb spoke about the obstacles she encountered, specifically on the evening of the unexpected October ice and snowstorm. “I’ve matured a lot and learned flexibility,” said Lamb. “I’m more prepared to handle stress.”

Diana Singh organized a prom for senior citizens in April at Chatham High School where guests enjoyed food and live music. Singh secured donations from Shoprite, Stop & Shop, TM Ward Coffee and Martha Watson Flower Design. “I wanted to show the seniors they are a big part of the community,” said Singh, who was inspired after realizing that her grandparents did not go out socially very much because of the limited opportunities.

Lauren Teague’s project zeroed in on building self-esteem in young girls. Project Connect brought 35 fifth grade girls together in June 2011 to discus and prepare for the social challenges of middle school. Teague said that social pressures have shifted down to the sixth to eighth grades levels. “Some people really get lost. I told the girls they should never change who they are,” said Teague. The girls also participated in a scavenger hunt in the Chatham Middle School to familiarize themselves with the building where they would attend school.

Hannah Tognola spearheaded Teens with Tunes, a project that gave high school performers a chance to give back to the community. Tognola used to play the piano for her grandmother when she was in a nursing home. Her immediate-family audience tripled in size when she played at the nursing home, making her realize the power of music and its benefits on health. “Music is powerful whether we know it or not,” said Tognola, who arranged for 15 members of the Chatham High School Jazz Band to play in Overlook Hospital’s lobby.

“Girls, you are special,” said Mary Anne Maloney of the Chatham Kiwanis Club, addressing the awardees. “Be very proud of yourself. Each of your projects gave back to the community—but many more people have been touched.”