Hannah Saunders, a junior at Holt High School in Wentzville, MO, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. By earning the award,
Saunders exemplifies a leader who has transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a measurable and sustainable impact. Saunders was recognized with other Gold Award Girl Scouts during a ceremony at Lindenwood University in St. Charles this summer.
For some, Prince Ivan’s journey through the magical forest and his battle against a formidable magician is just a century-old ballet. But for Saunders, The Firebird is an opportunity to teach students about the strength of nonverbal communication. Conveying a message through a body movement or gesture is a powerful tool and to do so effectively can mean success in a vast number of daily interactions with friends, family, teachers and community members.
To earn her Gold Award, Saunders wrote, illustrated and published five different books inspired by classical ballets. After publishing, Saunders visited 10 schools in the Wentzville area, presented her stories to students and initiated discussions about nonverbal communication. Saunders covered the cost of printing the 30 books by organizing and hosting several dance workshops for her fellow Girl Scouts. During these workshops, she taught the young women dance moves from The Nutcracker.
“I partly wrote these books to help people understand what ballets are trying to express,” Saunders said. “I also wanted to teach students that there is more to communication than just talking.”
After going to the schools, this G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM gave several copies of her books to the school librarians, ensuring her passion for dance and nonverbal communication will be explored by future generations of students.
The Gold Award represents the culmination of more than 80 hours of work on a project. Approximately one million Girl Scouts in ninth through 12th grade have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.
A young woman who has earned the Gold Award is a community leader. Gold Award Girl Scouts report a more positive sense of self, are more engaged civically and in community service, have more confidence in their
leadership abilities, and experience greater life satisfaction and success than non-Gold Award peers. Some of the benefits of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are:
• Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the US Armed Forces
• Earning scholarships from colleges and universities
• Recognition from many government and non-profit organizations
Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as part of Girl Scouts. To join Girl Scouts or learn more about volunteering, please visit girlscoutsem.org/join.