Not your average Girl Scout

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Greely HS student takes unorthodox road to Gold Award

CUMBERLAND — Greely High School senior Victoria Pisini is an active kind of girl. A three-sport athlete who plays soccer, softball and runs cross country, she also heads the student council, helps lead the Latin club, skis when she can, takes yoga classes at least twice a week and is almost finished earning her Girl Scout Gold Award.

So it should come as no surprise that when a torn quadriceps meant she couldn’t compete in her senior year of soccer, Pisini hardly missed a step.

The injury lead to her introduction to yoga, after a physical therapist suggested she try a class at Portland Power Yoga on Marginal Way. She got hooked, she said, but not only because it helped her leg.

“Its helped not just with flexibility, but in dealing with school work,” she said. One of her favorite parts of the Bikram style of yoga, she said, is the series of deep sighs done during class. “I’m a big fan of sighing,” she said – she finds herself doing it during tests, and has even gotten her softball teammates to try it.

But more than teaching the art of sighing, Pisini has brought her whole yoga practice to Greely, in the form of a club for all students that meets on early-release Wednesdays.

It’s the club that will earn her the Girl Scout Gold Award later this year.

“It was a perfect way to get my Gold Award,” Pisini said. “Yoga is something I really enjoy, and Girl Scouting is something I’ve been a part of for so long.”

Working with Portland Power Yoga instructors, Pisini has been able to provide free yoga classes at the high school, and has convinced community members to donate 30 mats to the club.

Working under Girl Scout requirements for earning the Gold Award, she has earned badges in personal finance and organization, in addition to submitting a formal project proposal outlining a budget, logistics and the who-what-when-where-why of the club.

The Gold Award – the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, comparable to the Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout Award – requires 65 hours of work and a final presentation to the Girl Scout Council.

When Pisini presented her proposal to the council last fall, they suggested she make her final presentation in the form of a scrapbook.

“A scrapbook?” Pisini thought, “I know it’s the traditional Girl Scout thing, but I’m not a traditional Girl Scout. I don’t even have a vest or a sash. But don’t tell the council.”

In a troop with her twin sister, Pisini said Girl Scouting was never about sewing and singing songs. Rather, it was a self-realization process, learning to lead and be self sufficient.

Working on a sewing badge in middle school, Pisini “got the rope knotted in a ball before I completed the first stitch.” She opted to stick with badges in rock climbing and clam digging.

And despite thoughts when she was younger that Girl Scouting was “so uncool,” she said she’s glad she “stuck with it through the social pressures of high school.”

“I realized I really didn’t care,” she said.

While she’s not sure if all her friends know she’s a scout, she said most people know about her yoga club. It’s a “normal-sized” club for Greely, she said, where about 15 or 20 people participate, and some of the underclassmen have talked about keeping it going after she graduates in June.

Pisini does hope to see the group grow a bit more, but “you know how teenagers are,” she said, “some are lazy, some are busy, some just want to sleep. I don’t blame them!” Busy being a student, trying to come up with an alternative to a scrapbook for her presentation next month, and waiting to hear back from Georgetown University, her top college choice, Pisini can certainly relate.

But with a deep breath and a big sigh, Pisini is pretty happy to just busy. As long as Georgetown is near a yoga studio.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or

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n-cmbgoldaward2-032609.JPGGreely High School senior Victoria Pisini, far left, started a yoga club as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Like the Boy Scout Eagle Scout award, it’s the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn. (Trent photo)