Eagle Scout shares in family tradition

A fam­ily af­fair: Kieron Pleis, a 16-year-old from Lawndale and a mem­ber of Boy Scout Troop 563, has had nu­mer­ous fam­ily mem­bers serve as lead­ers and mem­bers of vari­ous Boy Scout and Girl Scout-re­lated or­gan­iz­a­tions. TOM WAR­ING / TIMES PHOTO

Scout­ing is in Kieron Pleis’ blood.

The 16-year-old from Lawndale, a mem­ber of Boy Scout Troop 563, has had great-grand­par­ents, grand­par­ents, par­ents, broth­ers and sis­ters serve as lead­ers and mem­bers of vari­ous Boy Scout and Girl Scout-re­lated or­gan­iz­a­tions from Ol­ney to Ire­land.

Kieron be­came a Cub Scout in first grade and today is ju­ni­or as­sist­ant scout­mas­ter for Boy Scout Troop 563.

“I’ve en­joyed every minute of it,” he said. “I’ve met the greatest guys I know through Scout­ing.”

On June 2, Kieron was in the spot­light for all of his achieve­ments over the last nine years, as about 150 people turned out for his Eagle Scout Court of Hon­or.

The teen­ager was humbled by the turnout.

“They all had a part in me get­ting to be­come an Eagle,” he said.

The guests who gathered at St. Wil­li­am par­ish hall lined the peri­met­er of the room, passing Kieron’s Eagle Scout medal to one an­oth­er be­fore it made its way to Christine Pleis, who was a Girl Guide in her nat­ive Ire­land and later got per­mis­sion from Monsignor James Mor­timer to form a Girl Scout pro­gram at St. Wil­li­am.

Christine Pleis pinned the medal to her son’s uni­form shirt, put­ting him in pretty ex­clus­ive com­pany. He’s among 29 Troop 563 Eagle Scouts since 1993.

And, as Boy Scouts Cradle of Liberty Coun­cil board mem­ber Mark Chilutti ex­plained, only about 4 per­cent to 5 per­cent of boys who join the or­gan­iz­a­tion be­come Eagle Scouts.

“He’s been a mod­el Scout,” said Ry­an Murphy, the Troop 563 scout­mas­ter. “He’s got­ten so much out of the pro­gram that he will take with him the rest of his life. He’s set the bar high.”

Murphy be­came an Eagle Scout in 2005, paint­ing the walls of St. Wil­li­am’s lower church for his pro­ject. Kyle Pleis, Kieron’s older broth­er, earned Eagle Scout rank the same year.

Kieron’s pro­ject in­cluded power wash­ing and paint­ing the ex­ter­i­or walls, the trim, the win­dow panes and the en­trance and exit doors of the St. Wil­li­am kinder­garten build­ing. He also re­placed win­dows, stained two wooden flower boxes and a raised garden bed and re­planted the boxes and an ad­ja­cent pray­er garden. The school closed in June 2012, after his work was com­pleted.

“I talked to Fath­er Joe be­fore­hand,” he said of the Rev. Joseph Wat­son, pas­tor at St. Wil­li­am. “I went to the school and wanted to give back.”

Fam­ily mem­bers and fel­low Scouts as­sisted him.

“They all wanted to help,” he said. “We had a dif­fer­ent crew every day.”

An Eagle Scout Board of Re­view ap­proved Kieron’s work in Janu­ary, lead­ing to the pre­par­a­tion for Sunday’s ex­tra­vag­anza.

The pro­ject alone does not lead to the rank of Eagle Scout.

Over the years, Kieron has won nu­mer­ous awards, taken lead­er­ship po­s­i­tions and earned 35 mer­it badges for everything from in­sect study to wil­der­ness sur­viv­al. Chilutti re­mem­bers him ad­dress­ing a Cradle of Liberty Coun­cil din­ner as a Cub Scout of 7 or 8.

A St. Wil­li­am Ele­ment­ary School gradu­ate, Kieron was an al­tar serv­er and a mem­ber of CYO sports teams.

At Ro­man Cath­ol­ic High School, where he is a sopho­more, he’s an hon­or stu­dent, a varsity lacrosse play­er and a mem­ber of the Ju­ni­or An­cient Or­der of Hi­ber­ni­ans.

The tables in the St. Wil­li­am hall were filled with cer­ti­fic­ates, cita­tions and oth­er con­grat­u­lat­ory notes for Kieron.

Loc­al elec­ted of­fi­cials hon­or­ing him in­cluded U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey; U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz, Bob Brady and Mike Fitzpatrick; May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter; Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil; state Sens. Shir­ley Kit­chen and Larry Farnese; state Reps. Brendan Boyle, Kev­in Boyle, Mark Co­hen and Cher­elle Park­er; State Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord; and Aud­it­or Gen­er­al Gene Di­Pasquale.

Lawn­crest Com­munity As­so­ci­ation pres­id­ent Bill Dol­bow presen­ted him with an Amer­ic­an flag that was flown over the U.S. Cap­it­ol in March. The LCA will hon­or Kieron at its June 18 meet­ing and will fly the flag in the Lawn­crest Re­cre­ation Cen­ter grove dur­ing the Ju­ly 4 cel­eb­ra­tion.

Oth­ers hon­ors came from a wide vari­ety of people: Alex Tre­bek; news­man Rob Jen­nings; ra­dio per­son­al­it­ies Pre­ston and Steve; Mari­copa County, Ar­iz., Sher­iff Joe Arpaio; West Vir­gin­ia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; ad­ven­turer Bear Grylls; Momma Di­etz; and Larry the Cable Guy.

Kieron, who lives on Shel­bourne Street, also had a chance to give out some hon­ors, present­ing Eagle Scout ment­or­ing pins to former cub­mas­ter and scout­mas­ter Ernie Fink and his par­ents, Ron and Christine.

Scout­ing of­fers op­por­tun­it­ies for out­door activ­it­ies, and mem­bers gain valu­able skills, take on lead­er­ship roles and learn to work to­geth­er, Kieron said. He re­com­mends Scout­ing for oth­er boys.

“You learn life les­sons you don’t get in oth­er pro­grams,” he said.

This sum­mer, he’ll serve as a coun­selor for nine weeks at the Resica Falls Scout Re­ser­va­tion camp in the Po­cono Moun­tains. 

Kieron, who is eye­ing a ca­reer as an elec­tric­al en­gin­eer, plans to re­main a Troop 563 mem­ber for years to come.

“I want to stay in­volved and help the young­er guys, hope­fully to make Eagle,” he said. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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