Cullman Girl Scout Lillian Whitesell

Cullman Girl Scout Lillian Whitesell, pictured with Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama CEO Karen Peterlin, has earned her Gold Award.

A West Point High School senior’s love of music and knowledge of the cost lessons and instruments materialized into gold, not just for her, but many fellow students.

Lillian Whitesell, a senior at West Point, earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, for her project named “Music is Magic.”

Whitesell, a member of the high school band, created an after-school music lessons program.  

Remembering the benefit from lessons she took in the sixth grade, Whitesell also realized that paid music lessons were not an option for most families, especially those already struggling with instrument fees.

“Music lessons are expensive, but very beneficial,” Whitesell said. “Many beginner students need the enrichment to be successful.”

Her program paired beginner band students with high schoolers who have played the same instrument on a daily basis. The beginners had extra practice time and in-depth help from the more experienced music mentors and learned scales, tone, rhythms, and more.

The result? The band saw a high retention rate and improvement in the beginner band students. The school’s band ended up having the most successful marching band season in years.

“These students are in the high school band alongside me and I could not be prouder of the musicians they have become,” Whitesell said.

Whitesell hopes her project will be sustained by volunteers and even adopted by other schools and adapted to fit their needs. She hopes to see the beginner students, as they grow as musicians over the years, to become the older students who teach new musicians.

“By earning the Girl Scout Gold Award,” said Karen Peterlin, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, “Lily has become a community leader. Her accomplishments reflect leadership and citizenship skills that set her apart.”

Whitesell, also an undefeated competitor in math competitions, plans on majoring in math with an emphasis on astrophysics.

Girls who earn their Gold Award are also recognized by the president of the United States, Congress, the U.S. Armed Services, state legislatures, colleges and universities for admission and scholarship opportunities, and the American Legion. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. 

To learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award, visit

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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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