BYRAM TOWNSHIP-It might have been business as usual at the statehouse in Trenton, but for two Byram Township residents, it was an exciting day to top several years of hard work. That was the day, Jan. 25, when Acting Gov. Richard Codey presented Stephanie Ly and Whitney Jones with a proclamation for their ongoing community service efforts and the completion of their Gold Award in Girl Scouts. There was electricity in the air as Ly and Jones whispered in anticipation of the meeting. Upon arriving, a hush filled the room and the acting governor was greeted with smiles from staff and visitors alike. He took his time and spoke seriously and sincerely with the girls about their accomplishments and goals. He joked a little to make sure the girls were at ease for pictures. After individually presenting them with a proclamation, he personally gave each a souvenir. When leaving the statehouse, the girls expressed their feelings about the acting governor and his staff. "Everyone was so nice and I can't believe he actually took the time to thank me for my efforts," said Ly. "He was very encouraging regarding my past accomplishments and future goals. I'll remember this day, always," said Jones. The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn. It is a cumulative effort that begins when a girl enters the Senior level of scouting. After earning The Career Exploration Pin, The Senior Girl Scout Challenge, The Senior Girl Scout Leadership Award, and four Interest Project Patches (badges) related to her project, the Girl Scout is ready to begin her final project. The project must show leadership skills and meet an expressed need in the community. It must be pre-approved by the Girl Scout Council. After the project is completed, a final report must be made and approved by the same council. Ly is a senior at Lenape Valley Regional High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, president of the Interact club and a member of the track team. She works at the local CVS Pharmacy as a Pharmacy Tech and the YMCA as a swim instructor. She helps at her parents' restaurant and even finds time to serve through Americorps Volunteers. She has been a member of Girl Scouts for 11 years. For her Gold Award Project, she held two functions one at the middle and one at the high school to collect teddy bears for children with AIDS. Ly collected 199 bears. She then wrote an original message of inspiration for each bear and tied it up with a ribbon. She then presented the bears to the Angel Connection, a non-profit in Morristown that works with children with AIDS. The students at both schools were so excited about the teddy bear drive that the high school's Interact Club through the guidance of Deborah Hay has scheduled to hold the same event annually. Ly chose this project because she aspires to become a doctor in some area of child care. In the fall, Ly plans on attending Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, with a pre-med major. Jones is a freshman at Cheyney University in Chester, Pa., where she is majoring in biology. She was recently inducted into the Humphrey's Honor Society at the college and was presented with the Richard Humphrey Scholarship and the Charles E. and Shirley S. Marshall Scholarship. At her high school graduation from Lenape Valley Regional, she was awarded scholarships from the Lenape Valley Alumni Association, the Stahope-Netcong Rotary, and the Newark District Lay Organization of the African Methodist Church. For her Gold Award Project, Jones researched and composed two informational and safety books on wildlife in Sussex County. She wrote these for Camp Merry Heart, an Easter Seals Camp in Hackettstown for physically and mentally challenged kids. The books were written in a language and style all the campers could understand. Jones chose this project because of the bond she had with the camp through the annual volunteer work she has done there in the past few years. She wanted the campers to feel the sense of accomplishment by being able to identify animals and birds by site, tracks or their shadows. She also wanted them to be safe during this activity. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Jones plans to pursue a career in medical research.