Marygrace Buckner’s khaki Girl Scout’s Ambassador vest is so covered in patches, it’s almost more patches then vest. She said she has even more of them at home.
She and her “partners in crime,” fellow ambassadors and Troop 1207 members Isabel Polidora and Mary Ward, have 13-14 years’ worth of patches, badges, awards and honors from their time with Girl Scouts. As they begin to graduate from school and the organization, the patches serve as reminders for all the skills they’ve gained through the program that will help them navigate adulthood.
“It’s one of the things I’ve been the most involved in throughout my life,” said Polidora, a scout since first grade. “It’s been a huge influence. We’ve done so many great things throughout the community.”
A record of all the skills they’ve developed during their tenure with the national nonprofit organization, the patches include themes of biodiversity, community service, money management and, of course, cookie sales.
Polidora said their troop even saved and raised funds for two-and-a-half years to go to Europe, giving many in her troop a chance to visit a country outside of the U.S. for the first time.
“We learned true dedication to something that you really want to do, what it takes,” Polidora said. “I think that can help in the future, too.”
Ambassador is the highest rank you can achieve in Girl Scouts, and Buckner and Polidora said they’re planning to get their Gold Awards as well. Very similar to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts, the Gold Award is earned by a Girl Scout by doing a community-oriented project. For her project, Polidora said she’s planning to coordinate a luggage drive to donate to nonprofits in town “for anyone who’s in transition and doesn’t have any luggage.”
Some of the oldest Girl Scouts in Albany County, all three of the scouts agreed sticking with the program to the Ambassador rank is pretty rare for a Girl Scout today. Ward said when a Girl Scout graduates, it’s a “big deal.”
“Girl Scouts is thought of as such a childish thing, and a lot of the girls that leave as we get older, they do it because Girl Scouts isn’t cool anymore,” Ward said. “But it is cool, and I think it’s a very big deal to stick with it for so long.”
Polidora, a senior at Laramie High School, wanted to honor her time with girl scouts at graduation, as well as give the younger girl scouts like Buckner, a junior, a chance to. The trio approached the high school and school board of Albany County School District No. 1 to request permission to wear the Girl Scout graduation cords they’ve purchased at graduation.
While there’s not an explicit policy to prohibiting graduation apparel that’s not school-related, high school officials said during a school board meeting Wednesday it was common administrative practice to do so. The school board is considering adopting a measure to allow seniors at graduation to wear items of cultural significance as well as cords from Congressional Chartered Nonprofit Organizations, which includes Girl Scouts.
Members of the school board raised some concerns about students abusing the measure to wear inappropriate or offensive items. The measure will be considered in three readings before becoming official policy.
Even if the school board does not pass the measure, Buckner said the scouts in her troop “will still have our heads up high.”
Both Buckner and Polidora said the process to request the new policy from the school board has been a great learning experience that will be applicable to many different areas of life into adulthood. Even the practice of writing and preparing a speech, Polidora said, is helpful for the future.
As the trio begin to wrap up their time with Girl Scouts, Ward said it’s very clear to how influential the organization has been in her life and will continue to be going forward.
“I’m really lucky to have gotten to be part of such an amazing organization and troop,” Ward said. “I’m confident that I move on into adulthood, I’m going to be able to contribute a great deal to my community.”