North Hills High School junior Ella Niemi has been awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.Her Gold Award project, which she began in February of 2022, focused on cross-cultural communication and centered on the concept of IDEA: inclusion, diversity, equity and access for immigrant and refugee students.
Through her time volunteering, Ella was inspired by the strength and resilience of immigrant and refugee students and learned that as students, we can build stronger relationships and connections through our similarities.
Ella, a Girl Scout for eight years, organized a full-day student-led event that provided a forum for English as a Second Language (ESL) students to share about their cultural heritage with over 200 students.
Deelasha Sharma, a junior who hails from Nepal was the cultural event’s emcee. She said, “The experience was fantastic! I learned so many leadership skills and improved my public speaking. My confidence has only grown as a result of this event.”
Katherine Musselman is an ESL teacher at Baldwin High School and served as Ella’s project advisor. “Ella's showcase of student diversity was a creative and impactful way to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity in schools,” she said.
Ella’s accomplishment will be celebrated this spring at a ceremony for new Gold Award Girl Scouts in the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) Council.
Beyond Girl Scouting, Ella participates in North Hills High School National Honor Society and La Société Honoraire de Français, as well as French Club, Hilltop Heroes, Choir and Drama, the International Thespian Society and Marching Band as a Majorette.
By earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, she positions herself as community leader by advocating for others and utilizing leadership and citizenship skills that set her apart.