Hampton Bays Girl Scouts Develop Bond, Earn Silver Awards

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Three Hampton Bays teenagers took a step forward together in their Girl Scout pursuits, earning the organization’s second-highest honor—the Silver Award—last Thursday, August 15.

Annalise Romagnoli, Julia Tetrault and Nikki Distefano, all 14, invested 50 hours of community service each in making baby blankets for the Elizabeth Ministries, which operates from the Church of St. Rosalie on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, to earn their award.

Their donation is the latest in a long line of accomplishments the girls have shared through nearly a decade of scouting. Now, as they prepare to embark on their next challenges—entering high school and pursuing their Gold Awards—they do so as they always have: together.

The three girls, along with Vanessa Farrell of Hampton Bays, are the last remaining members of Girl Scout Troop 789, which once had as many as 11 girls. They’ve been in Scouts together since the first grade and, in a few weeks, will all be freshmen at Hampton Bays High School.

Laurieann McKay, Nikki’s mother, said most girls generally drop out of Girl Scouts after a few years, making the achievements of her daughter, and the other girls in Troop 789, even more special.

“This is a good bunch of girls and they’ve been together a long, long, long time,” Ms. McKay said. “Most girls drop out after a few years, so for these girls to go all the way through together is pretty incredible.”

Annalise said the bond she has formed with the other girls goes beyond their meetings and service projects. “We’re friends even outside of Girl Scouts,” she said. “We may not have all the same friends at school and we don’t do all the same activities, but that doesn’t really matter.”

Annalise, who plans on joining the cheerleading squad and softball team at Hampton Bays High School, said she is interested in Girl Scouts because her oldest brother, Anthony, is an Eagle Scout, which is the highest honor in Boy Scouts, and her other older brother, Nick, is in the process of earning the same honor.

Annalise plans on becoming an elementary school teacher one day, but for now her focus is on getting her Gold Award, though she does not yet have a project in mind to achieve that honor. “A lot of people dropped out of Girl Scouts as I kept going into it, but that never stopped me from doing it,” she said.

Because all of the remaining girls are Catholic, many of their recent service projects have been geared toward the church, explained Annmarie Tetrault, Julia’s mother. Their shared religion, combined with their chemistry, made this project a perfect fit, Annalise said.

The girls made a total of 51 baby blankets and donated them to Elizabeth Ministries, a community service program run through St. Rosalie’s, which will distribute the blankets to local families in need.

Nikki said she’s glad the project is now complete because being able to help others is rewarding to her, a sentiment echoed by Annalise and Julia.

Nikki has already begun making headway on her Gold Award project, which she hopes will involve creating a Wall of Honor that will recognize Hampton Bays High School alumni who go on to serve in the military. The specifics of the project have not been finalized, but the idea was broached at the Board of Education meeting earlier this month by Schools Superintendent Lars Clemenson. In an email this week, Mr. Clemenson wrote that the Board of Education is interested in her idea and that the next step will involve Nikki sitting down with the district’s administration.

She explained that she got her idea from students at the Eastport South Manor High School who recently unveiled a Wall of Honor that recognizes former students who have either served, or are currently serving, in the military. Her future goal is to attend either the Air Force or Coast Guard academy after graduating from high school, and has been padding her resume by participating in Scouts, being a Civil Air Patrol cadet at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and by tailoring her class schedule.

“I want to be in the police part of the military, so I need to focus more on history and science and math,” she explained.

Julia said she doesn’t have as clear a career path in mind as her fellow Scouts, jokingly referring to herself as a “lost child.” She also does not have an idea for a Gold Award project yet.

Still, she’s looking forward to figuring all that out as she goes through high school. For now, she’s excited to take honors geometry and social studies classes, and play the flute in the school band. In her spare time, she dances and takes singing lessons.

Regarding her time with the Girl Scouts, Julia said she has enjoyed the experience and all the projects she’s been involved with, whether it is sewing blankets or putting together birthday packages for underprivileged children.

“Just being able to communicate with others and help out—that’s what I like about it,” she said.

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