Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas announces 17 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients from Plano

Diya collaborated with students at McKinney Montessori Preschool to provide them with hands-on experience in understanding the origins of their food. Photo provided by Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.
Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas is celebrating 17 of Plano's Girl Scouts with the Gold Award for their projects benefitting the community.


The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas has awarded 17 Girl Scout Gold Awards to Planoites in the program this year.

The Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouting and is given to women who have demonstrated exemplary leadership, initiative and commitment to positively impacting their communities. The awards will be officially presented at a ceremony on June 2 at the Plano Event Center at 2:30 p.m.

Diya Damodaran
Homegrown (Physical Health) – Plano East Senior High School
Damodaran collaborated with students at McKinney Montessori Preschool to provide them with hands-on experience in understanding the origins of their food. With the help of volunteers, she created a permanent garden at the school. Damodaran planned and then hosted several sessions where children could learn about different types of fruits and vegetables, how vegetables grow, how to identify healthy and nutritious food and get first-hand experience outside as they learned to care for the plants. The students also received take-home kits to grow produce, including easy recipes. The school will maintain the garden and use the supplies and materials she left as needed. Damodaran will graduate from Plano East Senior High School in 2024.
Prisha Jain
How well can you map the 50 US states (Education) – Plano East Senior High School
Jain collaborated with Montclair Elementary in Garland to paint a large United States map with highlighted names of the states and capital cities. She and her volunteers then created an interactive game with fun facts for each state, cultural perspectives, economic opportunities, and key landmarks for the students to play. The game provided a way for the students to learn in a non-traditional way about the United States. Teachers at the school will continue using the map and game Jain made and paint was left with the school for touch-ups as needed. She will graduate from Plano East Senior High School in 2023.
Anushka Sridhar
Sparks, The Smart Parkinson’s Strap (Physical Health) – Plano East Senior High School
Sridhar collaborated with the Dallas Area Parkinson Society and FrontEnders Foundation to educate about vibration therapy. This therapy is a new approach to Parkinson’s disease, which does not currently have a cure. She researched and designed a non-invasive vibration strap for Parkinson’s patients to use to mitigate physical tremor hand symptoms. Sridhar and her team then built 25 straps to be donated to patients and monitored for results. She also wrote a tutorial brochure about the benefits of this therapy and how to build and maintain the strap. The results from the test group were successful, and Sridhar published a paper and applied for a patent for this device. Sridhar will graduate from Plano East Senior High School in 2024.
Natalie Tan
Teaching Others to Succeed (Education) – Plano East Senior High School
Tan’s project connected less-resourced students to tutoring opportunities. Knowing many students struggled academically amidst online classes during COVID, Tan created a club at her school, Teaching Others to Succeed. Pairing over 60 Plano East Senior High volunteers and elementary and middle school students, Tan provided one-on-one virtual tutoring to 40 students in math, reading, writing, STAAR testing, science, and history. The program gave the high school students service hours and the opportunity to hone their leadership skills and the younger students improved their focus and grades. The club will continue going forward and possibly expand to other Plano ISD schools. Tan will graduate from Plano East Senior High School in 2024.
Suma Vegesna
Mental Health in Adolescents Post Covid-19 (Mental Health) – Plano East Senior High School
Vegesna’s project helped teenagers who exhibited signs of stress heightened by normal childhood anxiety. Vegesna partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club and Plano Children’s Hospital to support 80 kids. At the Boys & Girls Club, Vegesna and her volunteers conducted art therapy sessions and coordinated a presentation with a licensed therapist. Vegesna, her volunteers, and the Plano Art Therapy Association also created 40 kits with toys and coloring books for children with behavioral health concerns at Plano Children’s Hospital. Her materials will be used to replicate more items as needed. Vegesna will graduate from Plano West Senior High in 2023.
Laura Hudson
Teaching Deaf Students English (Disability) – Plano Senior High School
Hudson worked with Deaf Education teachers to provide flashcards for in-class instruction. Since American Sign Language is a visual language, deaf education students often need help connecting the sign to the English word. Hudson and her volunteers created flashcards to offer the students a method to overcome this problem. Each flashcard showed a picture illustrating the word, the typed-out English word, and a description of the signed word. Hudson also tutored students to test the flashcards and adjusted them as needed. She gave the flashcard templates to over 10 ASL teachers to continue the project. Hudson will graduate from Plano Senior High School in 2023.
Maya Comisar
Port Pillows, Pillows That Ease the Ouch (Physical Health) – Plano West Senior High School
Comisar partnered with Medical City Plano and Texas Oncology Plano to create port pillows for breast cancer patients. After watching her mother survive stage 4 breast cancer, Comisar created port pillows to prevent irritation of the port and surrounding area, which make everyday activities like riding in a car and administering needed medications easier. She and her volunteers crafted over 100 port pillows with inspirational notes for breast cancer patients. Comisar made an instructional video and the Plano Sewing Center linked her video to their website to replicate her project. She will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2024.
Megha Kalvakota
Self-Defense and Martial Arts Principles for the Deaf (DEIA) – Plano West Senior High School
Kalvakota’s project focused on providing accessibility in the deaf community regarding self-defense and martial arts. While most individuals can see a martial arts demonstration and follow movements to learn new skills, Kalvakota recognized how the deaf community would benefit from having an interpreter present. With support from volunteers, Kalvakota arranged for a martial arts seminar and included an American Sign Language interpreter. The participants learned the technical moves to protect themselves as well as gained confidence and discipline. She recorded additional sessions for community distribution and shared them on the Texas Association of Shotokan Karate website for broader reach. Kalvakota graduated from Plano West Senior High School in 2022.
Sumehra Mahmud
Reinvent Yourself (Life Skills) – Plano West Senior High School
Mahmud’s project supported girls in their tweens and early teenage years by encouraging them to live a healthy lifestyle. Recognizing how young girls may face academic, social, and mental challenges, Mahmud and her volunteers led a two-week workshop to help instill the girls with a renewed sense of confidence, self-esteem, and positive outlook. To augment her workshops, Mahmud incorporated guest speakers, including a fitness trainer, licensed therapist, cardiologist, and yoga instructor, into her curriculum. The girls gained new life skills to relieve stress, eat healthily, and build positive relationships. Her informational brochure and YouTube video will continue her program. Mahmud will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2025.
Colleen McKenzie
Fast Fashion Education (Environment and Sustainability) – Plano West Senior High School
McKenzie’s project addressed the environmental effects of fast fashion by educating community members about its impact. In learning the fashion industry generates a significant amount of pollution and waste, McKenzie was inspired to create awareness about this issue with peers. She presented to over 10 different groups and created YouTube videos on this topic for global reach and to continue her educational outreach. To augment her project, McKenzie also collected 400 articles of clothing to donate. Her goal was to inspire others to reduce their environmental impact by purchasing modestly and recycling clothing to mitigate clothing waste going into landfills. McKenzie will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2024.
Anna Norris
Nice Place for a Safe Space (life skills) – Plano West Senior High School
Norris’ project benefited children at the Boys & Girls Club of Frisco. Anna remodeled multiple rooms and augmented supplies within the facility to create a safe space for the over 400 youth who attend the club. Along with volunteers, Norris collected hundreds of books to improve their literacy program, provided 18 iPads with games, and organized the art room. She also orchestrated carpet and electrical installations, furniture donations, new lighting, fresh paint, and facility cleaning. Norris gave the Boys & Girls Club a guidebook with instructions to make any future modifications or updates as needed. She will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2023.
Adithi Rallapalli
Working with Water (Public Safety) – Plano West Senior High School
Rallapalli’s project increased youth awareness about swimming and water safety. After learning 4,000 youth drown in the United States annually, Rallapalli and her volunteers led swim education sessions at over 20 Dallas Recreation Centers to combat this issue. Rallapalli educated nearly 600 youth through her efforts and provided informational pamphlets to 1000 additional community members. She used presentations, videos, and activities to promote interactive learning. Discussion topics included recognizing a safe swimming environment, leveraging equipment to promote safe swimming, what to do in case of drowning, and saving distressed swimmers. Rallapalli provided her curriculum to Dallas Aquatics to continue her program. She will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2023.
Kaaviya Shenbaharaman
Mobile Pre-K Kits for Homeless Shelters (Poverty) – Plano West Senior High School
Shenbaharaman’s worked with several homeless shelters to provide bi-lingual educational materials for pre-K students using their shelters’ services. Shenbaharaman and her volunteers created “mobile” pre-school kits, adhering to TEKS standards, with flashcards, worksheets, and hands-on activities, all in a reusable format. The kits contained instructions for both the children and families, as well as facility staff on how to use the resources. Information on federal programs open to pre-K children was also included for parents to consider. Each shelter has links to her materials and syllabus to restock the kits as needed. Shenbaharaman will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2024.
Sriya Tellakula
Hands-On Healing Through Music (Mental Health) – Plano West Senior High School
Tellakula’s project supported children in the hospital by providing them with activities to express their feelings through music. Identifying that music therapy can offer an emotional outlet and support those navigating challenging times, Tellakula and her volunteers created a music therapy program for children at the Children’s Medical Center of Plano. Her activities included a music-themed word search, an exercise to keep the beat of the music, and a listening activity to promote relaxation and reflection. She used a public platform called Nearpod to promote global reach and give the hospital continuing access to her materials. Tellakula will graduate from Plano West Senior School in 2023.
Leela Vegesna
QR for Canines (Animals) – Plano West Senior High School
Vegesna partnered with Murphy Road and Allen Animal Shelters to provide education and services to these facilities. Vegesna researched and developed a comprehensive website on canine care, with information on food, toys, training, health care, and community resources. She worked with volunteers to design and build an outdoor obstacle course for the Allen Animal Shelter to provide agility exercises to shelter dogs. Vegesna also led participants in toy-making workshops, creating 100 toys for the shelters, and coordinated a donation drive. Her website and the obstacle course will be used by the shelters in the future. Vegesna will graduate from Plano East High School in 2023.
Erica White
Growing Something Bigger Together (Sustainability) – Plano West Senior High School
White’s project educated local youth on the importance of sustainability and the ecosystem by creating a sensory garden at the St. Andrew Methodist Church to promote environmental education. She and her volunteers turned recycled tires into painted flowerpots filled with flowers, built vegetable garden beds, constructed two music walls and benches, and installed a rain barrel. She developed a curriculum where the children learned how to maintain various vegetables and plants, adapt to seasonal weather changes, and use their senses of different textures, smells, and tastes. The students and the church will maintain the area and continue the curriculum program annually. White will graduate from Plano West Senior High School in 2024.
Sienna Lawson
Community Games Space at Evergreen at Arbor Hills (Elderly Issues) – Homeschooled
As a frequent volunteer at Evergreen at Arbor Hills retirement community, Lawson noticed the communal game room and the outdoor activity areas needed to be refreshed and made more welcoming. With support from volunteers, Lawson repainted the game room, including adding an art exhibit and interactive wall games. She restocked the area with all new games for the residents to use. She also created an outdoor game area to encourage the residents to engage in additional physical activity in an outdoor setting. She then held a reveal party to introduce the new areas and encourage more socializing. Lawson graduated from a homeschooling program in 2022.
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