Golden girl: QC’s Polyak earns Girl Scouts’ highest honor

Adrianna Polyak took on the task of creating additional outdoor seating for students at Queen Creek High School to earn the Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of America. The project’s 12 8-foot-long benches, seen behind her, provide more lunchtime seating for 72 students. (Special to the Independent/Queen Creek High School)

Adrianna Polyak took on the task of creating additional outdoor seating for students at Queen Creek High School to earn the Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of America. The project’s 12 8-foot-long benches, seen behind her, provide more lunchtime seating for 72 students. (Special to the Independent/Queen Creek High School)

Adrianna Polyak never delegated work to others. It was always easier and faster to do it all herself, and she knew the outcome would be what she wanted, she said.

But the Queen Creek teenager learned to spread the workload while overseeing a project to earn her Girls Scouts of America’s highest award — the Gold Award.

“I’m the type of person who normally does it all because I know what I want,” Adrianna said during a phone interview. “I have a problem telling people to do this and that, but when I was talking about this project (with Girl Scout board members), they told me I used the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ a lot. I was told, ‘you’re the boss, you have to learn to oversee and delegate.’”

Earning the Gold Award is somewhat comparable to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout designation, according to a press release. While both achievements require developing and completing a service project, Girl Scouts must create a project that is sustainable and continues to give back to the community long after she moves on.

Overall, the process usually takes 18 to 24 months and often involves seeking in-kind donations and recruiting volunteers, and teaches the scout leadership skills.

“Empowering girls to lead is one of the greatest investments we can make,” Tamara Woodbury, CEO of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, said in the release. “When women adopt leadership roles, they contribute a unique set of skills, ideas and life experiences that enrich and strengthen communities. Girl Scouts, and the Gold Award specifically, gives girls the support and guidance they need as they step into impactful leadership roles.

“One of the most impactful parts of Girl Scouting is earning the Girl Scout Gold Award,” Ms. Woodbury said. “This prestigious award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and challenges girls ages 14–17 to initiate meaningful, sustainable change locally, nationally or globally through unique ‘take action’ projects of their own creation.”

Adrianna, a dancer and varsity pom captain at Queen Creek High School, first considered a project to provide a closet to provide girls with dance shoes and clothes for free, she said. However, she moved on after she realized she did not know how to sustain such a shop.

The she heard that Dr. Joseph Farnsworth, her school’s principal, was looking for a Boy Scout who needed a project to earn his Eagle Scout designation. Dr. Farnsworth wanted to address the shortage of seating in the school’s cafeteria.

“I thought, why does a Boy Scout have to do it? I took it up before anyone else could do it,” Adrianna said. “The school is like my second home. I wanted to have an impact on my community and this project saves the school district from having to buy the seating.”

The high school has 2,000 students and two lunch periods. The cafeteria has seating for 400. This meant many students had to sit outside on the grass and rocks or on hallway floors during lunch. Adrianna decided to address the seating problem by building and installing benches on the school campus.

After receiving the school’s permission, she developed a plan to raise funds for supplies and advocated for donations. In all, she raised almost $800 worth of donations and supplies. Then she recruited and organized 15 volunteers to construct and install 12 eight-foot long benches on planned workdays. When her project was completed in December, there was additional lunchtime seating for 72 students.

The actual labor to build and install the benches took only a few days; however, planning, meetings and paperwork took more than six months, Adrianna said.

In addition to delegation, Adrianna learned not to procrastinate. She has had since her sophomore year to complete the application to earn the Gold Award, and realized if she were to miss last year’s deadline, she would have to wait until her freshman year in college to begin her project, she said.

The Gold Awards were presented at a ceremony March 19. Adrianna’s family attended and accepted her pin on her behalf as she was out of town participating a pom competition.

The Gold Award is just one of the teen’s lengthy list of accomplishments. She is the senior class president, dances tap and contemporary styles and competes in pageants. Adrianna is the reigning America’s U.S. Jr. Miss Arizona.

“I like the variety of activities I participate in because it gives me a chance to meet all different types of people and make new friends and stay well-rounded,” she told the Independent. “Being in a leadership position such as senior class president and being pom captain gives me the leadership skills for the world after high school. Being in Girl Scouts has taught me to be my own entrepreneur and set goals and get stuff done.”

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