Soaring Eagles

Eight mem­bers of the boy scout troop 155, in­clud­ing Charles R. Swan Jr. (right) be­came Eagle Scouts at Court of Hon­or at Saints United Luther­an Church on Sunday, Jan 6, 2012. Kev­in Cook / for the Times

Boy Scout Troop 155 had quite a run from 2010-12, with eight mem­bers achiev­ing the rank of Eagle Scout.

The eight young men be­came close as they grew phys­ic­ally, men­tally and mor­ally over the years and de­cided to cel­eb­rate the achieve­ment at a single Court of Hon­or.

The ce­re­mony took place on a re­cent Sunday af­ter­noon at Troop 155’s base, Saints United Luther­an Church, at 3200 Ry­an Ave. in May­fair.

“We’ve known each oth­er all our lives,” said Charles Swan, one of the honorees. “It’s really like a second fam­ily. It’s been a good ex­per­i­ence mainly be­cause of the people in­volved.”

Ron­ald Wood­ward, an­oth­er of the honorees, ex­plained that the eight have a spe­cial ca­marader­ie and fel­low­ship.

“It’s an ex­ten­ded fam­ily. I grew up with these guys. I know I can trust them,” he said.

To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, a boy needs to be act­ive in his troop; earn a vari­ety of mer­it badges; demon­strate that he lives by the prin­ciples of the Scout Oath and Law; re­ceive re­com­mend­a­tions from people he knows; as­sume a po­s­i­tion of re­spons­ib­il­ity; and plan and de­vel­op a ser­vice pro­ject that is help­ful to a re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion, school or the com­munity.

The fol­low­ing Troop 155 mem­bers achieved the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica:

• An­drew Cas­sidy, 20, a Feasterville res­id­ent and art his­tory ma­jor at Temple. He re­designed and ad­ded shelving at the food bank at St. Steph­en’s Luther­an Church in Feasterville. The food bank now has in­creased ca­pa­city and is able to help more people.

• Jerome Dop­kin, 19, a Lex­ing­ton Park res­id­ent and math ma­jor at the Uni­versity of Pitt­s­burgh. He painted a fence, re­sur­faced steps and in­stalled a drain­age sys­tem at Saints United Luther­an Church.

• Kev­in Le­onard, 19, a May­fair res­id­ent and stu­dent at Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia. He or­gan­ized and man­aged a drive that col­lec­ted more than 300 coats, 100 blankets and oth­er winter cloth­ing items for the poor and home­less who vis­it St. Fran­cis Inn in Kens­ing­ton. “A lot of people are home­less and don’t have coats and blankets,” he said.

• Jason Mc­At­eer, 20, a Holme Circle res­id­ent and sports busi­ness/medi­cine ma­jor at Kutztown. He traveled to the Far North­east-based Aid for Friends and helped pre­pare 200 meals for home­bound eld­erly people.

• Charles Swan Jr., 20, a Lower May­fair res­id­ent who works full-time in the heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing field. He col­lec­ted more than 200 used cell phones that were shipped to the Cali­for­nia-based Shel­ter Al­li­ance for re­cyc­ling. The pro­ceeds were for­war­ded to Wo­men in Trans­ition, an or­gan­iz­a­tion that helps battered wo­men in Phil­adelphia.

• Colin Saw­yer, 18, a May­fair res­id­ent and in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions ma­jor at Geor­getown. He or­gan­ized and man­aged a group of vo­lun­teers that beau­ti­fied an area of Pennypack Park near Aus­tin Mee­han Middle School. They painted over graf­fiti, picked up beer cans and bottles and re­moved debris on trails fol­low­ing Hur­ricane Irene.

• Brandon Wag­n­er, 18, a May­fair res­id­ent and stu­dent at Millers­ville who plans to be­come a met­eor­o­lo­gist. He or­gan­ized and man­aged vo­lun­teers who sanded and painted the rail­ings of Saints United Luther­an Church. They also weeded and placed mulch in a garden.

• Ron­ald Wood­ward, 18, a Ta­cony res­id­ent who works for a food pro­cessing equip­ment man­u­fac­turer. He re­modeled the Feast of Justice food pantry room at St. John’s Evan­gel­ic­al Luther­an Church. The job in­cluded paint­ing, clean­ing the car­pets and re­pair­ing the dam­aged ceil­ing.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on and state Rep. Kev­in Boyle presen­ted cita­tions to the new Eagle Scouts. Hen­on was joined by his 9-year-old son, Zachary, who is a Webelos scout. His 11-year-old son, Mat­thew, is also a Webelos scout.

Boyle said it was an hon­or for the com­munity to have “eight dis­tin­guished young men” be a part of it.

The Rev. El­len An­der­son, pas­tor of Saints United Luther­an Church, spoke of the Scout Law. A Scout is de­scribed as trust­worthy, loy­al, help­ful, friendly, cour­teous, kind, obed­i­ent, cheer­ful, thrifty, brave, clean and rev­er­ent.

“If the world fol­lowed this Scout Law,” she said, “we would have no prob­lems.”

Since Troop 155 formed in 1930, there have been 39 mem­bers who’ve be­come Eagle Scouts.

Stat­ist­ics show that only 3 per­cent of Scouts go on to achieve that rank.

Also at the Jan. 6 ce­re­mony, Nancy Ward was presen­ted with the Ranger Award and the Sil­ver Award, along with flowers, for her par­ti­cip­a­tion in Ven­tur­ing, a Scouts pro­gram for boys and girls age 14 and older.

The Eagle Scouts thanked their fam­il­ies, fel­low Scouts and Scout­mas­ter Don Wal­lace. A re­cep­tion fol­lowed the ce­re­mony.

The young men all agreed that sum­mer camp­ing trips were a high­light of their Scout­ing ex­per­i­ence.

“I like be­ing out­doors. I like be­ing able to do all sorts of things. More people should be in­volved,” Brandon Wag­n­er said.

The Eagle Scouts would re­com­mend Scout­ing to young boys.

“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind ex­per­i­ence you can’t get any­where else,” said An­drew Cas­sidy.

“You make friends, there are activ­it­ies to do, you learn a lot and you keep out of trouble,” said Jason Mc­At­eer.

Colin Saw­yer, who had per­fect at­tend­ance throughout St. Mat­thew Ele­ment­ary School and St. Joseph’s Prep, said in­volve­ment in Scout­ing and achieve­ment of the rank of Eagle Scout looked good on his high school and col­lege ap­plic­a­tions.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “You’re hanging out with a bunch of your friends and at the same time help­ing people and learn­ing.”

Classes re­sumed for Jerome Dop­kin, and he can­celed a bus trip back to Pitt­s­burgh to be able to at­tend the ce­re­mony.

“It’s been the same core group of kids. It’s a sol­id group. We came up to­geth­er. We’re like a second fam­ily,” he said.

Domin­ic Aquilino, a Boy Scouts dis­trict dir­ect­or, said the Scouts are of­ten un­seen faces be­hind good deeds such as their food col­lec­tion ef­forts for the needy each Novem­ber.

Usu­ally, their re­ward is the good feel­ing they have in­side. After achiev­ing the rank of Eagle Scout, their re­ward is cel­eb­rated pub­licly among fam­ily, friends and fel­low Scouts.

“They’ve made an im­pact on so­ci­ety and will con­tin­ue to make an im­pact,” Aquilino said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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