Laurel Wettstein, a senior attending Vail Academy, was recently awarded The Gold Award. As noted by Debbie Rich, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, “The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and asks that girls identify a problem within their community and do something about it, not just in the present, but something that is sustainable through the years.”

A lifelong musician, Laurel Wettstein found her passion for music performance in elementary school where she learned to play in her school orchestra. When she realized that her new K-12 school did not offer extensive music classes (band, orchestra, or choir), she saw an opportunity to make a change. She learned that her new school did not lack the resources for these classes; they lacked the additional funding they assumed it would take. Laurel made it her mission to prove to her school and community that the funding wasn’t necessary to offer the younger students’ music education, and that if a 15-year-old could step up to teach music, anyone could. During her sophomore year of high school, Laurel offered a weekly beginners orchestra class before school for 2nd through 5th grade students. In her junior and senior year of high school, she offered both a weekly beginners class and an intermediate class before school, all using music and resources that the school already had. After teaching VAHS’s only orchestra for three years, Laurel organized all of her lesson plans and music to make it easy for one of the teachers at the school, who plays violin, to take the orchestra over the next year.

Laurel learned that “This project actually helped me shape my future career,” she said, “By teaching children and being around them, I have learned that music education is really where I want to go with life. I learned my true passion through my project.”

For more information about the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, call 520-327-2288, or visit:

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