Student Features

Alum Receives the Girl Scouts’ Highest Honor

Jul 21, 2021

Gabby Appel wearing her graduation capRecent PA Cyber graduate Gabby Appel, 18, celebrated earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, which recognizes teens who have made a lasting change in their communities. She dedicated almost 100 hours over the course of three years to the project. Gabby says her flexible school schedule enabled her to work toward her award and opened up many other opportunities for her, such as graduating from high school early.

Scouts who pursue a Gold Award frequently choose projects of a personal nature. Gabby’s family has welcomed many foster children into their home over the years, and she saw how they arrived with only a bag of personal items or sometimes nothing. “I wanted them to have something comforting that they could keep,” says Gabby. For her Gold Award project, she provided foster children with a devotional booklet, a stuffed animal, and bracelets for both the children and stuffed animals. Gabby wrote the “Forever Friend Devotional” booklet, collected stuffed toy donations, and made beaded bracelets. The Bair Foundation, a Christian child placement agency, held a Christmas-themed drive-through event where foster children could visit Gabby’s station to receive a Forever Friend.

“When foster children go to a courthouse or parent visitation, they aren’t allowed to bring the stuffed animal with them, but they can bring the bracelet,” says Gabby.

When she was a younger scout, Gabby remembers admiring scouts who had earned their Gold Award. After she earned hers, she met with troops and encouraged other scouts to achieve the award. Being able to inspire her fellow youth is a significant memory from her 13 years in Girl Scouts.

Gabby's Forever Friend station at a drive-through event for foster children.

Gabby gifted a devotional booklet, stuffed animal, and bracelets to foster children at a Christmas drive-through event last year. The project earned her a Gold Award--the highest honor in Girl Scouts.

Gabby enrolled in PA Cyber in eighth grade after trying Hershey’s online school and a brick-and-mortar school. Neither school felt like the right fit. “I was completely taken back by how much PA Cyber provided—a computer, technology, and books—in addition to a significant education,” she says.

The flexibility of PA Cyber’s blended courses “allowed for so many more cool opportunities. I experienced growing up without the weight of an 8-hour school day,” she says. Besides having more time to spend on her Gold Award and with family, Gabby started working at age 15 at Hershey’s Chocolate World and then later at Starbucks. She babysat, too.

She slowly earned extra credits throughout high school, which enabled her to graduate from PA Cyber a semester early in December. She enjoyed celebrating both graduation and earning her Gold Award at the end of 2020.

Today Gabby is working toward a career in youth ministry. She is interning at a church so she can see what the job and workplace is like. She wants to explore different aspects of youth ministry and see where she can help most. She is certainly driven to uplift and inspire young people.

Celebrating graduation and her Gold Award

Gabby celebrates graduation and earning her Gold Award with her parents in prom queen style.

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.