December 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Gold Award Winner Aims to Inspire New Generation of Readers

Demarest, NJ: Academy of the Holy Angels senior Kirsten Garino is driven by the power of the written word. In addition to winning a 2018 National Silver Medal for humor writing, Garino recently received the Girl Scout Gold Award for establishing a 1,600+ volume library at the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield.

“On behalf of Academy of the Holy Angels, I would like to congratulate Kirsten Garino for earning her Girl Scout Gold Award,” AHA Principal Jean Miller said in a letter acknowledging Garino’s receipt of the GSA’s top honor. “If truth be told, we are not surprised at her accomplishment as Kirsten has proven to be a leader among Angels in our community. Her passion for reading and writing has helped her forge a very successful academic career and I know the future is very bright for Kirsten. But most importantly, we are proud of Kirsten because of her genuine thoughtfulness, her kindness toward others, her generosity, and her desire to give back to her community.”

Garino, a member of Oradell Girl Scout Troop 60849, explained, “When I began my Gold Award project, I was asked to take action on a cause that I cared deeply about, and for me, literacy was the obvious and unavoidable answer. I have always loved to read, and I know that my academic and communicative skills now are due, in large part, to my strong exposure to reading in childhood.”

She worked to make the new library a bright, welcoming space that would inspire young people to become avid readers. The library is defined by an area rug, a seating area with colorful cushions and walls, and low bookcases filled with donated books.

“I believe that when you love to read, you learn to be kinder and more empathetic, to be chronically curious, and to love knowledge for its own sake. There’s a very particular kind of joy and unbridled creative energy that comes with being a reader, and those feelings have inspired me throughout my life,” she explained.

As Garino was developing the plan for her library, she decided to approach the Boys and Girls Club. Garino previously worked with a club in another location while she was pursuing her GSA Silver Award. Ultimately, she connected with the Garfield club, which hosts after school programs for hundreds of children every day, and had just suffered a budget cut.

While the hands-on work took approximately six months from start to finish, Garino revealed that developing an appropriate concept may have been the most difficult aspect of her project.

“My Gold journey has been such a significant part of my time in high school, and I really can’t say enough how deeply it has affected me,” Garino added.

Garino is editor-in-chief of the AHA newspaper and serves as director of submissions for Academy’s literary magazine. This fall, she launched Spitfire Literary Magazine, an online quarterly.

Her outstanding achievements in social studies, mathematics, music, art, science, and world language have earned her membership in several honor societies, including Rho Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, Tri-M, the National Art Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, and the National Honor Society. She is president of the Spanish Honor Society, and has received three medals for her work on the National Spanish Exam. She is a National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalist and recently received a Sister Nonna Dunphy Scholarship. Garino is also captain of the AHA Handbell Choir, co-captain of the AHA Varsity Fencing Sabre Squad, and an Angel Ambassador.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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