Wilton High School junior Emily Johnson has earned her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, which acknowledges an individual’s accomplishments, leadership, commitment, creativity and personal effort in making the world a better place. Johnson, an Ambassador Girl Scout with Wilton’s Troop 50877, was honored at an official Girl Scout ceremony on Sunday, June 6 in Hamden, CT, along with 64 other 2021 CT Gold Award recipients.

For her Gold Award Project, Johnson collaborated with the Wilton Library to create programs that promote and encourage reading and literacy.

She wanted to keep kids interested in reading and connected to their peers during the pandemic, so she created a virtual book club that ran from September 2020 to February 2021.

The group, which was open nationally to all children in fourth through eighth grades, met bi-monthly and read and discussed a total of eight books. During the book club meetings, Johnson led the group by prompting them with discussion questions and engaging the book club members by creating fun challenges and activities relating to the books.

One of the highlights of the book club was when Johnson arranged for Chris Grabenstein, author of the Mr. Lemoncello series, to attend the Dec. 5, 2020 meeting via Zoom to discuss Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” He told stories about what inspired him to write his books and how he creates and develops his characters, and answered all kinds of questions from the participants.

In addition to hosting the book club, Johnson also created a book bingo game featuring a 5×5 grid with 24 boxes corresponding to categories of books that the challenge participants have to read. Examples of categories included books with an animal on the cover and books that were published the year the participant was born. Adults and children submitted entries from several different states — and the winning entrant was from Wilton.

The Wilton Library will keep the bingo game on its website for others to download and play.

The final piece of Johnson’s Gold Award Project was teaching the art of book folding.

“I always knew I wanted my project to include something relating to book folding. I started book folding in sixth grade, and it is still one of my favorite hobbies,” she said.

For her project, she created a series of five videos that teach viewers how to fold basic patterns, including the “half fold,” “triangle fold,” and “combination fold.” She also taught a more complex fold called the “letter fold.” These videos also will remain on the Wilton Library website.

Johnson said that working on her project reinforced her love for reading. “As a busy high school student, I don’t often have time to sit down and read a good book. My project reintroduced reading into my life and this had many positive impacts. I found that I was more relaxed, I woke up feeling less tired, and overall, I was a happier person.”

Johnson is the goalie for both the Wilton High School varsity field hockey and varsity ice hockey teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society.  She works backstage on the WHS plays and musicals, is an active member of the Ambler Farm trebuchet team, and is co-president of the WHS Pediatrics Club.

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