Girl Scout Jacqui Baker Completes Her Gold Award

Jacqui+Baker+and+her+mother+smile+after+a+successful+afternoon+of+interviews.
Jacqui Baker and her mother smile after a successful afternoon of interviews.

Jacqui Baker and her mother smile after a successful afternoon of interviews.

Edan Larkin

Edan Larkin

Jacqui Baker and her mother smile after a successful afternoon of interviews.

Edan Larkin, Editor-in-Chief

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On this past Sunday, November 19th, 2017, Hingham High School senior and Girl Scout Jacqui Baker orchestrated and invited her fellow students to participate in her astounding Gold Award project. This project is the largest and most important project to be completed by a Girl Scout in her career.

Seeing as Girl Scouts are dedicated to bettering the lives of everyone in their community, the Gold Award project directly reflects this aspiration. The project’s prompt is to both identify a problem in the local community of the Girl Scout and then determine a way to substantially solve the problem.

On Sunday afternoon, Baker brought her Gold Award project to action. The afternoon consisted of two separate sessions, one from 2:00pm until 3:30pm and the other from 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Baker found that this setup worked very nicely, because it allowed for a greater amount of participants.

Each session commenced with an introduction from Baker, during which all of the attendees had the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the importance of her project. Baker described her project, her decision process, and the impact she hoped to create with her project.

When Baker needed to decide what problem she wanted to use her project to solve, she found her inspiration right outside her window. She explained that she lives nearby Hingham Town Hall and has spent years seeing people entering and exiting the Senior Center located at the Town Hall without ever really going inside.

That’s when she realized that there exists far too wide of a gap between high schoolers and senior citizens in Hingham. She recognized a lack of a valuable connection that should be and can be made between them. She decided that that was the problem she would use her project to fix.

“I decided to do this because I wanted to give back to my community,” she said with a smile. ”The structure of the Gold Award allowed me to do that in a positive way.”

In order to accomplish her goal of strengthening the relationship between high schoolers and senior citziens, Baker determinedly sought out participants. She successfully recruited Hingham High School students through clubs like Student Council and GCP, and she invited local senior citizens interested in the project as well. Together, everyone met at the Senior Center at Hingham Town Hall on Sunday.

Since the project’s objective was to establish a stronger connection between high schoolers and senior citizens, Baker decided to have the students conduct interviews of the seniors. The seniors have lived lives filled with interesting stories they love to tell and advice that they are happy to give while the high schoolers are young and about to enter a world that they have no real experience in, so this structure allowed for a situation in which both parties benefited significantly.

“As a mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven I have learned to always be open minded and excited to see what [Jacqui’s] generation is thinking and doing. There were many positives from the event, but the one that stands out the most is the inter-generational bonding,” said senior citizen participant Nancy Goldthwait. “It is a true testament to Jacqui and all of the students… that we were all able to sit one-on-one and talk for close to an hour. The questions were provocative at times, and led to very interesting discussion.”

“It was an honor and privilege to be part of the project,” Goldthwait kindly emphasized.

To coordinate these interviews, Baker instructed every student to download an app called StoryCorps. This app allows its users to select questions and topics and then record interviews accordingly. Once recorded, the interviews are posted to the app and tagged with keywords so that similar interviews can all be found together. (If you are interested in seeing the interviews from this event, download the app and search #HinghamSeniors.)

After this introduction, the students in attendance split up and all found a senior citizen to interview. The proposed interview questions covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from the senior citizen’s career, his or her traveling stories, and even his or her regrets, if she or he happened to have any. The turnout of senior citizens was diverse and offered each and every student the opportunity to learn incredibly interesting information and record an entirely unique interview.

For about an hour, students chatted animatedly with the senior citizens. Everyone shared stories and asked questions. At some point, the interviews became less of a formality between strangers and more of a genuinely kind and valuable conversation between friends.

“I was really glad to be able to interview someone in the first session because I got to experience it myself. The second session I got to do more of the work I had to do and take a lot of photos,” Baker explained happily. She was thrilled to truly see her hard work pay off.

Senior citizen Phil Carter felt the same way. “Reliving some of the best events of my life was very rewarding to me and I totally enjoyed talking, and interacting with, Jacqui Baker.  I think we both had fun hearing and learning about my travels, motivations, regrets, etc. during our short time together.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to tell part of my life story to a motivated, well-grounded young woman obviously on a mission to try to do good things with her life,” Carter stated.

The senior citizens had endless amounts of stories, advice, and opinions to share to students who gladly accepted the information and avidly searched for more. Every single pair in the Senior Center that day had curiosity in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

“I’ve learned a massive amount just from this event and within the past week. I learned a ton about advertising, talking to people, being clear about communication, making an easy environment for everyone to have a conversation, and trying to present my project to people,” Baker shared. “I explained it to maybe a hundred people, trying to get them to come,” she added with a laugh.

Eventually, the students all faced the fact that the given time for their interviews was up. It seemed as if, as quickly as the interviews started, they were over. Not a single person there could comprehend how quickly the time had passed them; the students and senior citizens alike were simply far too immersed in their respective conversations to notice.

Once the timers were up, the StoryCorps app suggested that interviewers take photos with their interviewees to conclude the interviews. Students and senior citizens alike took advantage of the opportunity, snapping adorable photos together before students posted the interviews to the StoryCorps app (with permission from the senior citizens, of course).

The event was one that most students probably would not have jumped at the chance to attend if it wasn’t for Baker’s project and her dedication to it, but every student in attendance was ecstatic that they participated; as the interviews drew to their closes, students reunited and enthusiastically gushed over the captivating stories they had the chance to hear and tell. Baker was certainly excited as well, expressing that she was “really happy” with the turnout.

Freshman participant and fellow Girl Scout Anna Wagner left her interview with a wide smile. When asked what she got out of the experience, Wagner mused, “I got to talk to someone else and learn a whole bunch of new stuff about them. It was really cool. It was eye-opening.”

Wagner is at the stage in her Girl Scout career during which she must decide her own path to take for the Gold Award project. Finding a topic to pursue is certainly no easy task, so Wagner was glad to have seen the success that Baker’s project attained.

“I feel really inspired to do my Gold Award,” Wagner enthused. “I have a concept of how I should find ideas now!”

It’s certainly safe to say that Baker’s mission to build a stronger, more lasting connection between Hingham residents of all ages was a success. The Hingham High students and the senior citizens entered the Senior Center that day as complete strangers, but each and every attendee left with a deeper appreciated of a generation foreign to their own after only an hour and a half. That is an accomplishment achieved all thanks to Jacqui Baker.

Jacqui Baker
John Goldthwait (left) and Hingham High senior Tristan Del Aguila deep in conversation.

Jacqui Baker
Marilyn Mossey (left) and Hingham High sophomore Mollie Manley smile happily after spending nearly an hour sharing stories and advice.

Jacqui Baker
An ongoing interview between Nancy Stimpson (left) and Hingham High School senior Zoe Dainton.

Jacqui Baker
The interviews all concluded with commemorative photos taken of the high school interviewers and the senior citizen interviewees. Here, Hingham High School senior Caroline Mashburn (left) and Carolyn Nielson grin after their interview.

Jacqui Baker
Hingham High School sophomore Ruthie Kerber (left) listens thoughtfully as Holly Carter speaks.

Jacqui Baker
Hingham High School senior Sam Oomen-Lochetfeld (right) asks Ron Hutchins another question.

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