The Eagle Scouts of America – Flying High at Salesianum

Owen Fink, Staff Writer

What’s in an Eagle Scout, and why are they important today?
The Boy Scouts of America was started in 1910, seven years after Salesianum opened its doors. Since then, the Boy Scout program has churned out almost 2.5 million Eagle Scouts. To become an Eagle, boys must first make it through the other six ranks of Scouting: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. Each of these carry their own trials and triumphs, but none so much as Eagle rank, which only about 4% of Scouts earn.
To become an Eagle Scout, young men must achieve 7 requirements. These include being active in a troop for at least six months after earning Life rank, gathering letters of recommendation to attest to the scout’s character, earning a total of 21 merit badges, serving actively in a position of leadership for six months, conducting a service project beneficial to the Scout’s community, participating in a troop leader conference, and successfully completing an Eagle Scout board of review, with a statement of the scout’s ambitions, life purpose, and leadership positions held. All these requirements must be completed before the scout turns 18.
But the real kicker is the service project, which is unlike any project at Sallies. To become an Eagle Scout, the candidate has to “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, school, or [the scout’s] community.” For starters, the proposal application form for this project is around twenty pages long. It also requires signatures from multiple different leaders and Scout officials, which often extends the time taken to fill out the proposal to months.
The proposal then has to be approved by the local council, and only after that can the scout begin working on the actual project, which has its own form. Salesianum Eagles and Eagle candidates who were interviewed had proposal-to-completion times ranging from three months to two years. All of this planning and coordination makes the Eagle Scout project the largest requirement for the rank by far. Typically, when an Eagle Scout greets another Eagle for the first time, one of the primary topics of conversation is usually “What was your project?”
Salesianum has a fair amount of Eagle Scouts, spread across all grades. Most of the Eagle prospects surveyed were underclassmen, but a handful of upperclassmen and faculty members have completed the final requirements to achieve Scouting’s highest rank.
So it takes a long time, and requires a lot of effort on the part of the Scout, but why is being an Eagle Scout important? The Eagle Scouts at Salesianum have a few words to say on that themselves.

“It is a symbol of the ideal kind of person that I want to be as well as it being a long time goal that I worked for. Students should care because when you achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, you are held to a higher standard because you have to uphold the legacy of all other Eagle Scouts that came before you and try and be the best that you can be.”- Andrew Kielar, senior

“Eagle rank represents the history [of the BSA] and a symbol for strong leadership. Students should care because the rank is seen as a badge of honor. The U.S. military also recognizes the importance of the skills and leadership abilities required for the rank.”- David Escobar-Huertas, freshman

“The rank of Eagle to me is the acknowledgment from your community and peers in scouting that you have not only managed to meet the prescribed requirements, but have demonstrated yourself as a capable, good person who will have a positive impact on all of the communities of which that person is a member. Salesians should care about who amongst them are Eagle Scouts, because these are some of the members of the community, who, if called upon, would greatly help their Salesian brothers in any way they can.”- Mr. Matarese, staff
“One of my troop leaders used to say that you can only say you were a Boy Scout, but you are an Eagle Scout forever. Earning Eagle is something you only get one window of time in your life to accomplish and I’m glad I was able to do so.”- Sean Banko, junior
“For those who have achieved it, the rank of Eagle shows they have commitment. Achieving Eagle Scout is very difficult with most people dropping out before they reach that rank, Eagle to me means you’ve done what most others haven’t.”- Sean Curry, senior
“To become an Eagle Scout would mean joining the ranks of great men before me. They’re right when they say you’re a ‘marked man.’ Sallies students should look upon their comrades who have achieved this rank with admiration and respect, and should look to them for help and guidance and leadership… I think that it is a great program that teaches us skills of leadership, survival and technical skills, the importance of service, and many more. Becoming an Eagle Scout means that you have learnt all of this to a large extent, and have the drive to do great things in the future.”- Thomas Wirt, junior