On Sept. 25, Shady Side Academy senior Katy Appleman became the first female to achieve the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout in the Japeechen District and the Laurel Highlands Council of Scouts BSA, formerly Boy Scouts of America. The Laurel Highlands District is one of the largest councils in the country with nearly 17,000 youth members in 15 counties across Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.
Appleman joined Scouts BSA in 2019 and is a member of Troop 9380 in Fox Chapel, which has seven female scouts. For her eagle project, she chose to remove a non-native invasive plant species, Japanese Barberry, from a one-acre section of North Park. The dense bushes block sunlight from the forest floor, making it difficult for anything else to grow, and can harbor large tick populations.
"Once I realized that it was possible to reach eagle before I turned 18, I definitely wanted to reach this achievement," said Appleman. "It's one of the few awards that you can receive before you are an adult which can continue to say something meaningful about your character for the rest of your life. I think that it's incredible to be the first woman in my region, and I hope that my experience might encourage more young women to strive towards this award as well as experience the incredible community which I found in Scouts BSA."
Senior School music teacher Dr. Dan Brill, who is Appleman's advisor and directs her in the String Orchestra, said "It is a great pleasure to teach and know Katy. She is motivated to learn by her genuine intellectual curiosity. It has been so great to watch this friendly, humble, unassuming young woman evolve into a leader in our school's string orchestra as well as in her community. Katy has a quick mind, a warm heart, and a right spirit. She makes our school a better place, and I am confident that will be true of every stop she will have on her future path."