Justine Cole of Livonia created a hands-on curriculum to teach elementary-age students about the American flag. Her efforts were recognized with a 2020 Gold Award, the most prestigious award for Girl Scouts, from Girl Scouts of Western New York.
Justine’s project, “American Flag Education,” involved educating students in kindergarten through fifth grades about the respect, history, and proper care of the American Flag. She presented her program to students in Livonia Elementary School.
“I made flag puzzles for the Kindergartners while sharing information about the flag to them,” said Justine, who graduated this year from Livonia High School. “I also made practice flags and taught the fifth graders how to properly fold the American Flag while sharing the history of the American flag with them and how it has evolved into what it is now.”
She also taught the students how to properly retire an American flag and shared videos of a proper Color Guard while displaying damaged or ripped flags, to show them when a flag needs to be retired.
Justine, a 2019 recipient of a Livingston County Teen Recognition Award, said that being in Girl Scouts “has helped me to realize that I have a passion for working with kids. It has taught me great patience and amazing leadership skills which will help me to be successful in any work environment.”
“While I served as a guide for a younger troop, it helped me to find how happy working with kids makes me,” said Justine.
Gold Awards are traditionally presented during a ceremony in June. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those Scouts who earned Gold Awards during the 2020 Girl Scouting year were recognized in a virtual acknowledgement. All 2020 Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive the option to be a part of the 2021 in-person Gold Award ceremony next year to receive their Gold Award pin.
The Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. The Scout then forms a team as a support system, including a project advisor close to the issue who is not a troop leader of family member, while she leads the project. The Scout creates a plan to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on the project.
The Scout submits a proposal for her project to her local Girl Scout council. Upon acceptance, the Scout begins to work through the steps of her plan.
The Gold Award recognizes the culmination of a community project that represents something the Girl Scout is passionate about. The project must fulfill a need within the community, which may be local or global, and create change that has the potential to be ongoing or sustainable. About 80 hours of community service are involved in the project.
Completion of the Gold Award also qualified the Girl Scout for special scholarship opportunities and to enter the military a full rank higher than her peers.
Justine is one of 36 Gold Award recipients in the region served by Girl Scouts of Western New York. She was the only recipient from Livingston County. Other recipients were from Erie and Monroe counties.
Justine is also a member of Troop 5074, a Livonia troop of five girls that is one of the first female troops in Livingston County to become part of the Boy Scouts of America, now known as Scouts BSA.
Troop 5074 was formed in February 2019 and under the program the girls can work to earn the same merit badges and rankings as their scouting brothers. Justine, for example, is working on an Eagle Scout project which involved the repair of a fence in her town’s cemetery.