SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Six local Girl Scouts this year earned their Gold Award, the highest and most prestigious award that they can achieve. 

The Fanwood-Scotch Plains Girl Scouts held their 33rd annual Gold and Silver Awards Ceremony at Immaculate Heart of Mary's Nazareth Center before the conclusion of the school year. The Gold Award winners from Troop 40205, 40352, and 40088 were: Francesca Carlino, Mary Fossececa, Briana McGowan, Ciara McParland, Katie McQuaid, and Sara Miller

  • Francesca Carlino, who will attend Notre Dame University on the fall, created a program called T.E.A.M.S. (Tutoring Elementary Age Math Students), which addressed the importance of early intervention in math for elementary school children. Through T.E.A.M.S., Francesca sought to raise students' self-confidence, understanding to the subject, and their performance in school. T.E.A.M.S. provided one-on-one math instruction free of charge, and Francesca started a club at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School to continue the mission.
  • Mary Fossaceca conducted a series of "mini lessons" of chemistry for children in grades 1 through 4 at the Boys and Girls Club of Plainfield. She created boxes filled with materials and detailed instructions so that students could complete experiments at their leisure. Mary will be a senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in September.
  • Briana McGowan implemented a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program at the five SPFK12 elementary schools through the YMCA Aftercare program. She visited each school several times to teach STEM lessons ranging from chemical reactions to abstract mixtures. Briana will attend Tufts University in the fall. 
  • Ciara McParland set a goal of reaching out to underprivileged kids and introducing them to the arts. In addition to exposing the children to different art forms -- music, painting, acting and dancing -- and teaching them about different role models in each art form. Ciara will attend Temple University in the fall. 
  • Katie McQuaid organized and hosted what she called the Strong Minds Initiative. Her goal was to introduce alternative methods of coping with anxiety, depression, and other stressful mindsets. The initiative was a health expo that features a variety of services including acupuncture, psychology of nutrition, massage, Reiki, pet therapy, and yoga. The project was primarily directed towards adolescents and young adults. Katie will attend Dickinson College in the fall. 
  • Sara Miller's project was entitled, "Take Time for Music" presented as an after-school program at Coles and McGinn elementary schools. The goal was to teach children how to incorporate music into their daily lives in order to fight stress. A gifted musician, she decided to share her ideas about how to use music as a coping message. The lesson plans were uploaded to a blog to share with the community and others for use in the future. Sara will attend Princeton University in the fall. 

Only 5.4% of all Girl Scouts successfully earn their Gold Award. Requirements for the Gold Award include identifying an issue, investigating it thoroughly, building a team, creating and presenting a plan, gathering feedback, taking action and educating/inspiring others. 

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Silver Award winners from Troop 40089 were: Manasvini Anjaria, Jordon Choi, Juliette Ciullo, Rachel Lubek, Clare McGuinness, and Mae Merkle. 

  • Manasvini Anjaria and Rachel Lubek updated the Toy/Playroom at University Hospital in Newark.
  • Jordan Choi created 10  audiobooks on CD for Children's Specialized Hospital.
  • Juliette Ciullo, Clare McGuinness, and Mae Merkle taught children in the community how to use arts to build self-confidence and self-expression and to relieve stress. They planned workshops and taught children at the Ozanam Shelter in Edison. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.