Jennifer Hite, a 2012 Grayson High School graduate, has won the Girl Scout Gold Award, the top honor a Girl Scout can receive. It is similar to a Boy Scout becoming an Eagle Scout.
To give you an idea of how prestigious the Gold Award is, a Girl Scout who earns it automatically rises one rank in any military branch, according to the Girl Scout website.
Hite has been in the Girl Scouts for 13 years. She has been a dancer for a little longer than that, with 14 years of instruction behind her from the .
When she goes to college, she plans on being a dance performance major.
As part of the Gold Award, Hite was required to organize and pull off an entire event that would benefit a charity. Hite is no stranger to volunteering; she received the Presidential Award for the past three years at school for volunteering over 100 hours. She has been involved in the Best Buddies Club at Grayson High and feeds the homeless regularly through Westminster Presbyterian.
For her project, she was inspired to put on a pageant for young people with special needs.
“I have a cousin with Down Syndrome,” she said, “and she does a pageant in Henry County. It’s the highlight of her year.”
Gwinnett had no similar program, so Hite decided to fill the need. She partnered with the Gwinnett Master’s Special Olympics, who now want to make it an annual event.
The pageant was held on Aug. 3 at . Three girls and a boy participated in front of a crowd of around 80 people.
“I got so many thanks,” said Hite. “It was really a humbling experience to be able to do that and have people thank me for it. I wasn’t expecting that. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they were walking around the stage and having the time of their lives made it worth all the stress we went through.”
Hite said that people are often surprised that she is still a Girl Scout.
“Yes, I still sell cookies!” she joked.
Her troop, #20115, has been through so many things together. Girls have come and gone, but a core group of around seven girls has always stood together.
“It’s kind of like a sisterhood,” she said. “We’re best friends and we tell each other everything. They were my support as I put this together.”
Being in the Girl Scouts has taught her to believe in herself, be confident and always be true to herself.
She attributes the success rate of her troop to their leaders, Francine Brock and Julia Johnston.