3 local Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

Three girls who attend West Valley high schools have received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor.

The Arizona Cactus-Pine Council presented the Gold Awards in March to Emily and Madison Gidley, 18-year-old twin sisters who live in Litchfield Park and are seniors at Trivium Preparatory Academy in Goodyear, and Riley Wagner, 17, who lives in Glendale and is a senior at University High School in Tolleson.

To earn the award, the girls were required to create projects that give back to the community that typically take as long as 18 to 24 months to complete.

Emily Gidley’s project created backdrops for the drama program at her high school.

I wanted to do something with a subject I’m passionate about,” said Emily, who has worked on the crew for the school’s theater productions. “All we really had was a stage.”

She said the sets of indoor and outdoor scenes were used for the school’s productions of Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also function as backdrops for other activities.

The project involved soliciting donations of materials from local home improvement stores and designing, building and painting the set pieces.

To do the work, Emily said she organized about 100 volunteers, including faculty members and the 36 members of her senior class.

I learned a lot about how a team works,” she said. “Even though it was a lot of work, it paid off.”

Emily plans to study animation when she starts school in the fall at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

For her Gold Star project, Madison Gidley created a pollinator garden in a median on a road at Trivium Preparatory Academy.

Madison said she researched the shapes and colors of plants that would attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

Late last year, she organized the planting of Parry’s penstemon, chocolate flower, desert lavender, desert milkweed and other native plants.

Madison also placed signs to identify the plants and stepping stones in the garden.

She said a grant funded the project.

Her hope is that teachers at the school will start using the garden in the fall to teach students about pollination.

Madison said the project helped her gain confidence instructing a large group of people.

Things did not always go as planned, but in the end, I was able to get everything done through my determination and the help of my friends, family and volunteers,” she said.

Madison plans to study landscape architecture at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco or Arizona State University.

Emily and Madison are the daughters of James and Caroline Gidley.

Riley Wagner’s project involved creating computer coding clubs for elementary school pupils in five community centers in Tolleson, Glendale and Phoenix.

The project involved developing weekly workshops and a summer program to share knowledge the youths could use in their future education in science, technology, engineering and math.

In Arizona, there aren’t enough STEM grads to fill STEM jobs,” Riley said.

She said she was interested in closing the gender gap in technological education and she was pleased that about half of the 50 youths she worked with were girls.

It was really exciting to see that,” she said, noting that few girls were involved with technology when she was younger.

Riley said the project was completed with the help of mentors, including her fifth-grade teacher and a junior high robotics coach.

She plans to attend the University of Arizona Honors College to study engineering or neuroscience.

She is the daughter of Richard and Darcia Wagner.


Glenn Gullickson can be reached at ggullickson@westvalleyview.com.

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