PHOTO: Muriel Smith and her daughter, Cdr. Tracie Smith-Yeoman were among the 10 famous persons who have made their mark on Highlands.
HIGHLANDS – Presentations by a Naval officer who is a former Navy diver, and a long-time resident who highlighted ten famous persons who made their mark on Highlands were part of a series of events local Girl Scout Troop 273 has planned and carried out in celebration of Girl Scout Week. The week of activities commemorates the founding of the Girl Scout movement in the United States by Juliet Gordon Low on March 12, 1912, when she gathered 18 girls together for the first officially organized troop meeting.
Cdr. Tracie Smith-Yeoman, a Highlands native and retired Naval officer who is now the Senior Naval Science Instructor at MAST on Sandy Hook, spoke on the paths her career took from the time she graduated from Mater Dei High School and her commissioning after earning a degree at the University of South Carolina. Smith-Yeoman noted she was the only female NROTC graduate to be selected into the dive program at a time when the field had only been opened to women for a short time, and her experiences diving for salvage, repairs, and preventive maintenance of ships both in the United States and abroad. She spoke of deployments to Korea and Kuwait, as well as Hawaii and NWS Earle Colts Neck, where she was commanding officer of an all-male unit. The officer stressed to the scouts that everyone can accomplish her own goals as long as she has dedication, determination, energy, and works hard.
Local news reporter Muriel J. Smith, who lived in Highlands for more than 40 years, cited the ten persons in Highlands history she believes have contributed the most towards the role the borough has played in local, Monmouth County and American history, from Henry Hudson’s Robert Juet, a seaman on the Half Moon, to Thomas Ptak, the only borough soldier to be killed in the Vietnam War, for whom Ptak Towers is named. Smith also gave the history of how several local streets got their names as well as the lighthouse keeper who received a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Senior Girl Scout Orianna Nolan, a freshman at MAST, introduced the speakers and led the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the meeting. She and senior scouts DinaMarie Picchione, a student at Henry Hudson Regional, and Meghan Feddeler, a student at Trinity Hall, displayed and explained exhibits of the origin of Girl Scouting and WAGGGS – the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and presented gifts to each of the speakers.
The scouts also welcomed former Atlantic Highlands Mayor Helen Marchetti, who answered questions on her choice to live in the same house in which she was born for more than nine decades.
Troop leader Lori Ann Nolan, who has been a volunteer in girl scouting for 14 years, noted Troop 273 was formed in 2009 when her daughter Orianna was a Daisy scout and in kindergarten and her first troop, 1900, was retired. Troop 273 has 12 scouts at mixed levels of junior, cadette and seniors and is in need of leaders for the Daisy level of scouts, the level before Brownies which start in second and third grade, the volunteer said. Seniors can advance to ambassadors as high school juniors and seniors and can then become girl scout leaders. Brownie Troop 1219 is headed by Betsy Mullan and has members from both Highlands and Atlantic Highlands.
In addition to having women speak to the Scouts, the troop is also active in the community, and is scheduled for several more events honoring Girl Scout Week, including playing bingo with residents at Ptak Towers in Highlands, an activity with other girl scouts in Farmingdale, and care of the Memorial Tree the scouts planted by the Robert Wilson Community Center honoring the late Marissa Procopio, a former scout who was killed in an automobile accident July 7, 2015. The scouts also maintain the bench at the community playground donated by the Nolan family in honor of the former deceased scout. Members of the troop instruct other scouts on WAGGGS and Juliet Gordon Low’s life, and are completing their cookie sales drive, with proceeds going toward the spring planting around the Procopio tree memorial.
Sunday, the troop attended mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, processing in with the pastor, the Rev. Fernando Lopez, and receiving a special blessing and prayers from the pastor and the parish for their community activities and their dedication to the Girl Scout oath and promise.