Connie Fratianni-Wysota, mother and troop leader, has watched her troop of girls bloom from Girl Scout Daisies into mature Girl Scout Gold Award winners. As she gathered Troop 522 of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County for a picture, she knew it was going to be an emotional night.
This year, 11 of 12 girls in Manhasset’s Troop 522 received the Gold Award, with the 12th in the process of completing her project. The Manhasset troop was among 121 Girl Scouts from Nassau County who received the award during a ceremony at Adelphi University Tuesday night.
“I watched these girls grow up. It’s an amazing commitment on their part — they have stuck with the program since they were in kindergarten. To watch their progress has been an amazing experience,” said Fratianni-Wysota, whose daughter, Alexandra, a Manhasset High School senior, was one of the honorees Tuesday.
To be eligible for the award, applicants must choose an issue important to them and educate others about their cause. Applicants are high school students who devote time to community service and create a presentation highlighting their efforts.
According to Donna Ceravolo, executive director of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts throughout the country received the Gold Award last year.
“Most troops don’t stay together; many groups shrink after the girls enter middle school or high school,” Fratianni-Wysota said. “With high school graduation, tests and getting ready for college, it takes a lot of effort to do this.”
The experience allowed the girls of Troop 522 to grow together. Even though the Gold Award projects are done individually, the girls helped each other out, volunteering extra time and effort to their peers.
“These girls are my sisters,” said Kelsey Brown, a senior at Manhasset High School who is in Troop 522. “This was the first time we ever worked alone [on a project], but we were all still there for each other.”
The ceremony included a special performance by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Chorus. Each Gold Award winner was called up on stage to receive her award while her achievements were highlighted.
Every project was unique — from holding Support Our Troops workshops to bringing theater to classrooms.
“It was very rewarding,” said Nicole Kiess, also of Troop 522, who helped run a summer camp for impoverished children in Webster Springs, W.Va. “By the end, we learned a lot.”
Fratianni hopes highlighting the volunteer work casts the Girl Scouts in a different light.
“We’re more than just the cookies,” she said, laughing.
Above: Ten of the 11 Manhasset Troop 522 Girl Scouts who received Gold Awards, at a ceremony at Adelphi University honoring 121 Girl Scouts of Nassau County members who received the honor.