DALLAS — The first day of school is a big day for many students, especially Dallas High School junior, John Macey.
When Macey steps on campus Aug. 31, his gaze will sweep over the bus pad located between the middle and high school buildings to admire his hard work. Six benches, two trash containers and two recycling receptacles placed at the student pick-up and drop-off point is the result of nearly a year’s worth planning, fundraising and building.
The amenities meant to increase the quality of life for his classmates also fulfilled a requirement for his Eagle Scout service project.
“I wanted to give back to the school that supported me the last 10 to 11 years,” said Macey, a Boy Scout with Troop 281 in Dallas.
An Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts is the highest rank attainable that few boys reach.
“Only 5 percent of Scouts obtain Eagle Scout rank,” said Ryan Murray, the senior executive of the Two Mountains District in Moosic.
In the first seven months of 2016, the Two Mountains District in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Council had 25 Boy Scout advance to the level of Eagle Scout.
This is no easy feat.
“Many people think the goal of Scouting is to get a boy to the rank of an Eagle Scout,” Murray said. “This is not true. The goal of Scouting is to get a boy to the First Class rank. An Eagle Scout goes above and beyond.”
Macey agreed, stating he began working to earn the required merit badges to become an Eagle Scout in sixth grade.
The merit badges can range in interest including such topics as environmental science, engineering and drafting. But required badges for the path to Eagle Scout include outdoor skills, first aid, emergency preparedness and much more.
Each badge helps a Boy Scout build on leadership, planning and teamwork skills, which were incorporated in Macey’s service project.
Macey decided on his Eagle Scout project in October and approached school district officials with the bus pad amenities idea.
After several conversations with Superintendent Thomas Duffy and Dallas High School Principal Jason Rushmer, Macey’s plan began to take shape.
“These were easy conversations to have,” he said. “I had to explain what I wanted to do.”
Once he received approval from the school, Macey had to determine how to fund the project.
“I sold Krispy Kreme Donuts at school and within the Troop,” he said. “Fundraising was my biggest concern.”
Donations from Lowes in Edwardsville, Luzerne Lumber, The Dallas Foundation for Excellence in Education, Surgical Specialist of the Wyoming Valley, the American Legion Post 672, and a community grant from the Back Mountain Bloomers helped Macey turn his idea into reality.
“I contacted most of the donors by letters,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Macey said Luzerne Lumber in Luzerne, gave him a discount on the pressure treated lumber and Lowes provided the exterior stain.
Macey, his dad John and about 10 members of Troop 281 transformed the family garage into a workshop during from February to April. Macey invested over 150 hours on the project.
“I never built anything like this before,” Macey said. “This was the biggest project I was involved in. I had helped with other Eagle Scout projects (in the past).”
The hands-on experience taught the young man a lot about leadership and planning.
His next step to earning Eagle Scout rank involves a Scout Master Review with three Troop 281 leaders.
If that goes well, he will submit his Eagle Work Book and project paperwork to the council for a board of review.
“They can ask him anything from the history of (Boy) Scouting to questions about his project,” Murray said. “The Eagle Scout rank is something that you will always carry with you in life. You will always represent an Eagle Scout.”