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Girl Scouts celebrate 100 years in Milwaukee

Girl Scout anniversary

Milwaukee Public Schools and Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast (GSWISE) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the city’s first Girl Scout troop on May 19 at Clarke Street School. Mayor Tom Barrett, Superintendent Darienne Driver, GSWISE CEO Christy Brown, MPS officials, and staff and students of Clarke Street School gathered to celebrate.

The event was a collaboration between MPS and Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast. The first Girl Scout troop in Milwaukee was founded on the Clarke Street School playground in 1917. A search of historical records revealed that the troop may have also been the first troop in Wisconsin.

The celebration included a flag ceremony, a proclamation by Mayor Tom Barrett, a video of girls in the Clarke Street Girl Scout troop, and remarks by Darienne Driver, Christy Brown, and Principal Lena Patton. The ceremony concluded with the launch of 100 green balloons on the school playground. Students were treated to Girl Scout cookies as part of their lunch.

Also in attendance for the event were three Girl Scout volunteers who have been members for more than 50 years. A special guest was Alice Read, daughter of Marion Chester Read, for whom the Milwaukee Girl Scout service center is named. Alice is also the granddaughter of Alice Chester, after whom a Girl Scout Camp in East Troy is named.

Girl Scouts of America (now Girl Scouts of the USA) was founded in the United States by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia. Low sold a treasured pearl necklace to fund the establishment of the first national Girl Scout office in 1914. The sale of cookies to finance Girl Scout troops is known to have begun in 1917, with an official sugar cookie recipe distributed nationwide in 1922 to support girls in baking and selling cookies.

Girl Scout troops in schools support the MPS Eight Big Ideas: Educate the Whole Child strategy to improve student achievement. The Girl Scout program focuses on developing leadership in girls. It maintains traditional activities such as camping and community service, and also offers career exploration and 21st century skills such as science and technology.


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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • More MPS students are taking college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses;
  • The MPS Class of 2017 earned $62+ million in scholarships; and
  • MPS is home to seven of the state and nation’s top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post.

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