Megan Goldbranson, a senior at Hinsdale South High School, can add another achievement to her long list of accomplishments.
She recently earned her Gold Award, the highest honor in the Girl Scouts.
Goldbranson, who lives in Darien, has been in the same Girl Scout troop since she was 7. Troop 496 started with about 35 girls, and has distilled down to seven.
“We are all best friends,” Goldbranson said. “Normally, Girl Scout troops don’t last until senior year. We have had one troop leader throughout, Diane Ferrando.”
The Girl Scout Council has to review a Scout’s idea for addressing a community issue, as part of the Gold Award process.
“I started thinking about it in my sophomore year and developing different ideas, Goldbranson said. “I decided I wanted to have a danceathon. I love to dance and raise awareness for hunger in America.”
Three bands played during the Jan. 10 danceathon in the high school cafeteria, which lasted 3.5 hours and raised money for Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s food pantry in Darien.
“It was a great turnout,” Goldbranson said. “My Student Council got behind me.”
Participants were asked to bring canned goods. Goldbranson collected $250 in donations and about 600 items of food.
Goldbranson also serves on Student Council, plays the trombone in the band, sings in the choir, was in Hinsdale South’s Homecoming Court, and last year volunteered for a mission trip to Winnebago, Neb. as part of a youth ministry team.
“People tell you the time flies when you are in high school. So I thought I might as well get involved and use my time wisely,” Goldbranson said. “I am very organized. I know exactly where I need to be at all times.”
She feels the time she spent on the speech team the past three years, including serving as captain this year, has been especially valuable.
“It brought out my confidence and taught me how to express my opinions in positive ways,” she said.“My two speech coaches (Stephen Snider and Matthew Wolski) are like my best friends. They will be my friends for life.”
Balancing her studies and extra-curricular activities was even more challenging last year, because Goldbranson’s father had a serious medical condition.
“That definitely changed my life a lot last year,” Goldbranson. “In high school, that junior year means the world.”
Her coaches were part of her support group, she said.
“That is part of the reason I want to be a teacher, because of them,” she said. “Mr. Snider was my biology teacher. Having him let me know that everything was going to be okay with my dad helped a lot.”
Goldbranson wants to be a high school English teacher and ultimately a speech coach.
She was accepted by all seven colleges to which she applied.
Her first choice is the University of Dayton in Ohio. When she visited the campus, “I felt like it was built for me.”
The university also has “a very phenomenal teaching program,” Goldbranson said.