ROCKPORT — Emily Collins, Sabrina McCarthy and Molly Sonia, all Rockport High School seniors, received their Girl Scout Gold Award pin on Sunday at a ceremony at Scout Hall. The event was attended by representatives of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, Violet Apple and Nancy Lewis, along with the girls' project advisors, and other community representatives.

Apple, chief membership services officer, said those who have earned the award — the highest award for a Girl Scout 14-18 — have epitomized the dedication, commitment and perseverance gained through the organization. It is comparable to an Eagle Scout honor.

"For many, the leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment that come from 'going for the Gold' set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship," said Apple who noted that approximately 5.4 percent of all Girl Scouts nationally earn the award each year.

The average in eastern Massachusetts is more than 6 percent.

"Over 800 girls have received the Gold Award since 1982," she added.

Apple said the award represents the successful completion of specific requirements before work may begin on the final service aspect of the project, which is ultimately submitted to the Gold Award Committee for approval.

Collins developed a literacy project with Rockport Elementary School working with teachers Jane Hyry and Julie Raftelis. Emily organized the creation of more than 100 book bags, in which she grouped books according to theme and author. The idea is that the children take the book bags home for two weeks. The children were excited at the launching of the bags, after which certain bags became popular, such as the horse bag, the Magic Tree House bag and the Jan Brett bag. The bags will continue to be used for years to come.

McCarthy developed a project working with the Head Start program at Pathways for Children working with Nancy Shea. She created a portable bilingual library with books in English and Spanish. She created a lesson plan and hands-on activity to go with each theme or subject of the book to engage the kids in using their fine motor skills, which can later help with learning to write. The bilingual nature of the program was to give them a rudimentary introduction into a foreign language, which they will later be exposed to at higher levels in school.

Sonia developed a middle school version of SALADD (Students And Leaders Against Destructive Decisions) working with Nikki Klink, the teen director at the local YMCA. Sonia has been part of this group at Rockport High School, which is now in its second year. Last year, its main project was the Prom Goes On to provide a safe place at the Cape Ann YMCA after the prom ended.

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