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Knots learned, badges earned; teens attain Scouting’s top rank

Several new Eagles are soaring in the area, and you can tell them by their Scout uniform sashes, loaded down with merit badges representing achievement in everything from swimming to environmental science.

None of those awards, however, compare to the latest piece of embroidery sewn on their shirts. Getting that one – the coveted red, white, and blue Eagle patch – means they’ve made it through all the campouts and leadership responsibilities necessary to garner the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Reaching the milestone is certainly no small achievement. There have been years of weekly meetings to attend. Summer camps at Hood Reservation to survive. Leadership positions to hold. Service hours to fulfill. And then, of course, there are all those knots to learn and at least 21 merit badges to earn.

Perhaps, then, it’s not so hard to understand why only 2-3 percent of boys that start out in Scouts actually make it to the finish line. Even so, 2013 was a good year for Eagle achievement in this part of the state, according to Michael Tischer, senior development director for the Andrew Jackson Council, which directs troops in Central and Southwest Mississippi.

“We had 149 Scouts make Eagle last year,” Tischer reported. “That’s about 30 more than usual.”

Gaining the designation puts young men in some pretty impressive company. Well-known Eagles Scouts include Gerald Ford (U.S. president), Steven Spielberg (filmmaker), J.W. Marriot Jr. (businessman), Walter Cronkite (journalist), Neil Armstrong (astronaut), Thad Cochran (Mississippi senator), Mike Row (“Dirty Jobs” host) and a long list of others.

Scoutmaster Marty Stephens of Brookhaven, an Eagle himself, recently saw three members of his Faith Presbyterian Troop 122 make the rank, a standing he regards so highly that when his wife gave him a gift several years ago, he chose an Eagle Scout ring over one from Mississippi College.

“While I place a great deal of value on my MC diploma, my feelings were that Boy Scouts and my achievements there had done more to shape me and prepare me for life than my MC education,” he said.

“Scouting principles reinforce the Biblical principles I was raised on,” he continued. “I felt fortunate to have found such an outlet as BSA, where I could learn a lot of cool skills that helped shape my future while supporting my Christian principles. That fit has always been beneficial to me and continues to be.”

Local Scouts who completed their Eagle requirements in 2013 will be among those attending a recognition banquet Friday night at the Jackson Hilton Hotel. More than 500 Scouts, parents, and community supporters are registered for the annual event.

Daniel Clark

Daniel Clark, the son of Jeff and Shannon Clark, earned his Scouting ranks while a member of Troop 122 of Brookhaven. He is a 10th-grade student at Brookhaven High School, where he is active in forensics, debate and tennis. For his final project, Daniel involved his fellow troop members in building birdhouses and feeders for Brook Manor.

Mason Falvey

Mason Falvey, the son of Michael and Brandee Falvey, is a member of Loyd Star’s Troop 117, where his father currently serves as Scoutmaster. Mason is a sophomore at Loyd Star High School and enjoys playing soccer, piano and trumpet. In addition to conducting a pet food drive, he chose to construct a patio area for the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League (BARL) for his service project.

Jonah Henderson

Jonah Henderson, the son of Mark and Kim Henderson, is also a member of Troop 122. He is a homeschooled 11th grader who enjoys tennis, cycling and hunting. To complete his Eagle requirements, Jonah led his troop in refurbishing more than 20 fire hydrants within the city limits of Wesson.

Sam Mooney

Sam Mooney, the son of Spencer and Janie Moonie, completes the slate of Eagles coming from Troop 122. He is a senior homeschooled student who enjoys music, hiking, and triathlons. Sam chose to improve and repair landscaping on the grounds of Mamie Martin Elementary School for his Eagle project.

Ryan Shirley

Ryan Shirley, the son of Dean and Rhoda Shirley, is a member of Wesson’s Troop 125, which is headed up by Scoutmaster Ken Carraway. A senior at Wesson High School, Ryan’s interests include mountain biking and scuba diving, activities he enjoyed at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in West Virginia last summer. His service project consisted of restoring portions of the walkway at Wesson Baptist Church.