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More than 140 northern Calvert County Girl Scouts were honored for their accomplishments and fortitude Monday, June 2, before a packed auditorium and a receiving line of dignitaries that included Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Del. Mark Fisher (R-Calvert) and county commissioners Pat Nutter (R) and Susan Shaw (R).

The first Bridging and Awards Ceremony for Service Unit 11-07 at the Mary Harrison Cultural Arts Center in Owings brought together Girl Scouts from the Daisy and Brownie level to Ambassadors and adult members.

Girls and troops who earned awards, including the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, as well as those who completed the requirements to advance to the next level of scouting, proudly took the stage to celebrate their individual and group journeys of building “courage, character and confidence.”

Scouts Sydney Anderson, Samantha Johnson and Stephanie Marceron received recognition for completing their Gold Award projects, the criteria for which includes a minimum of 80 hours’ commitment to a sustainable topic with local as well as national ties, ceremony announcer and troop leader Joan Fletcher said.

After joking about having “flunked out of the Boy Scouts,” Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) praised the young women for the dedication.

“These young ladies have the right stuff,” he said. “They’ve got fortitude and stamina to stick to it and say ‘We did it.’”

Shining the spotlight on the girls for their achievements is essential to encouraging them to continue to be a part of the Girl Scouts, Bridging and Awards Ceremony Chairwoman Jennifer Kellner said.

While in the past the “bridging” part of the ceremony — in which girls cross a bridge on the stage, signifying their advancement to the next level of scouting — has been recognized in smaller ceremonies for individual troops, bringing them all together exposes the younger girls to the older ones who are still enthusiastic about scouting, Kellner said.

Resilience was a main theme of the night, coloring the sentiments of many of the ceremony’s speakers.

“I think that as the parents of a kindergartner, you may not realize that your daughter is destined for Gold, that if you do invest in the program, then every year your daughter becomes a stronger leader,” said Colleen Cibula, chief operating officer of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. “So, I encourage all the Daisies and our Brownies and Juniors to please stay on and be one of our older girls, our Cadettes and Seniors and Ambassadors, our impressive young women.”

The younger scouts are making headway toward that goal, with four troops earning Bronze Awards and four girls completing Silver.

Junior Troop 339, composed of fourth- and fifth-graders, produced a living historian series of monologues to celebrate inspiring women in history, Fletcher announced to the audience. After researching these women and creating dialogue and costumes, they performed a “walk through women’s history” for other Girl Scouts, as well as for seniors at the Town Center Apartments in North Beach and at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick.

For her Silver Award project, “Forgotten Melodies,” Cadette Troop 1017 member Olivia Hooe sought to raise awareness of the importance of music in children’s lives by collecting formerly used instruments to refurbish and donate to students in Calvert County.

Johnson, the guest speaker, who bridged from Ambassador to adult member last year after graduating from Northern High School, just completed her freshman year at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“Let me tell you, college is hard,” she said. “But Girl Scouts taught me to overcome my challenges. … Thinking back, I’m reminded of how much I learned through Girl Scouts and that those lessons never go away.”

She said that during her 14 years as a scout, she really did learn all that the Girl Scout Law describes: courage; strength; respect for herself, others and authority; honesty; friendliness; helpfulness; and more.

With time, many believe, scouting gets better and better.

“The friendships get stronger, and the opportunities get bigger,” Kellner said.

Most of all, scouting helps girls strengthen themselves and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Lauren Daye, an 18-year-old Huntingtown High School graduating senior who bridged to adult Monday, plans to attend the College of Southern Maryland to study aerospace engineering in the fall and also is planning her Gold Award Project: suicide prevention.

Because she said she has friends who have attempted suicide, her goal to implement suicide prevention classes at the North Beach and Huntingtown volunteer fire departments, as well as at Huntingtown High School, is a personal one.

“[Girl Scouts] helps me see what I can accomplish, and I can be just more than what I am. … It means a lot to the community and the world, family and friends,” she said. “It’s worldwide, so don’t give it up.”

afrazier@somdnews.com