The Girl Scouts annual Bridging Ceremony, held recently in the Payson Elementary School cafeteria, was an extra-special event this year.
Mayor Ray Schum was on hand to honor Payson High School senior Alexandra Evans, who is receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award. The honor is the highest a Girl Scout can receive, and nobody in Payson has ever earned it until now.
Recipients are recognized for outstanding accomplishment in leadership, community service, career planning and personal development. To earn the award, a girl must use all that she has learned in her previous Girl Scout experience combining her leadership skills, career interests and personal values to meet an expressed need in her community.
As Schum pointed out to those in attendance at the Bridging Ceremony, "Ally's accomplishment makes her a general among those in her age group."
According to Joan Johnson, local Gold Award consultant, most girls drop out of Girl Scouts sometime during their middle school years.
"It's peer pressure mostly," Johnson said. "We've had some girls come close to getting the Gold Award, but Ally is the first to actually get there."
Evans, who has been in scouting for 13 of her 17 years, said she stuck with it because it has been a pleasurable experience.
"I've been with the same girls since the sixth grade, and it has just turned into a lot of fun," she said.
Earning the Gold Award, however, was no easy task.
"It's pretty hard," Evans said. "You have to spend 50 hours on the main project, but there's so much more you have to do before you can even apply for that."
At the same time, Evans was expected to keep up her grades and hold down a job.
"There are just so many things to keep track of in your senior year," Johnson said. "That's why we've had girls come close to earning the Gold Award, but fall short at the end."
Evans took on a Herculean task for her main project refurbishing the ramshackle concession stand at the PHS football field.
"I had to put new boards on the floor, because it had a giant hole," she said. "Then I had to put new tile on the floor. I also built a huge table to go up against the wall, and redid the shelves because they were falling apart."
Evans wrapped it all up with a new paint job, inside and out. The interior is now a gleaming white, and the exterior features white trim along with the school colors of purple and gold.
It's not only the work that goes into the Gold Award project that's important, but to be able to coordinate the project and enlist the help of others, Johnson said.
"She got all the materials donated and she got somebody to help her put the new floor in," she said. "She made something shabby look like something nice and new."
But Evans has her sights set on bigger things than refurbishing concesssion stands. In the fall, she'll enroll at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
"I want to major in elementary education," she said. "In two years, I plan to transfer to ASU to finish my degree."
A flutist in the high school band, Evans is seriously considering minoring in music.
Schum, for one, is confident she has laid the foundation that will assure her success.
"In my opinion, scouting is the most beneficial activity a young person can get into," Schum said. "Ally has taken her scouting experience to the ultimate achievement, and that will serve her well the rest of her life."
The Girl Scouts Western Days will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, at Pine Elementary School, and Wednesday, June 5, at Julia Randall Elementary School. The events feature activities, crafts, games and a pizza lunch. Cost is $5 per person. For more information, call Gwendolyn Kielblock at 646-9536 or Diane Jackson at 474-0583.