Badges and campfires, pinewood race cars, spending a May morning putting flags on graves at Jefferson Barracks or a November Saturday collecting heavy bags of food, Blue and Gold banquets, learning to “rough it” and to help others who have it rougher than you … such are the memories of Scouting.
But for one local group of Scouts those memories also include achieving Scouting’s highest rank.
On May 3, five friends who began Cub Scouts together in the second grade celebrated attaining the rank of Eagle in an Eagle Court of Honor hosted by Troop 787.
All five Scouts – Brian Flint, twins Jack and Nick Koury, and twins Chase and Ross Scanlan – are recent graduates of Parkway South High and members of Troop 787 sponsored by Carman Trails Elementary. Impressively, they are among the 4 or 5 percent of Scouts who will earn Eagle, according to Boy Scouts of America (BSA) representative Christine Dieckmann.
“This is one of the biggest groups to advance through Scouting together,” Dieckmann said. “What makes it particularly unique is that these boys have been together for 10 years.”
One of the most labor intensive parts of achieving the rank of Eagle is planning and completing a comprehensive service project for the community. The Scanlan brothers – Chase and Ross –constructed benches for Parkway South Middle. Jack Koury helped the Wild Wolf Sanctuary by building new den boxes; his twin, Nick, improved Parkway South Middle’s mail system with 100 mail slots. Brian Flint created classroom door barriers at Hanna Woods Elementary.
In addition to Scouting, all five boys have an impressive list of school and community involvement. Flint has been involved in the DECA business organization, plays lacrosse, manages a field hockey team and has participated in choir competitions for the past four years.
Ross, a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), plays basketball and participated in state DECA contests.
Chase also was a NHS member, participated in national debate competitions for South, served as vice president of its student council and was actively involved in Youth in Government.
The Koury boys participated in football and track at South and were on the Henges Trapshooting team. Jack also wrestled, and Nick was involved with NHS.
All are members of the Order of the Arrow, a BSA Honor Society.
While five friends achieving Eagle at once may be unique, Scouting success at South High is not.
In 2014, Joe Schnapp achieved the rank of Eagle in the summer before his freshman year, which is unusually young for this achievement. For his service project, he organized a fishing day at Carondelet Park for approximately 30 kids and sponsors in Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Louis. His actions filled a need within the organization, after the volunteer who previously ran the event passed away. About that same time, Matt Regel, a 2014 Parkway West graduate, also achieved the Eagle rank after building eight portable benches for Circle Star Camp, which is a summer camp operated by the Erin Eickmeier Foundation for children and adults with disabilities.
Raymond Waidmann, who just completed his freshman year at South, also recently earned his Eagle under the leadership of Curtis Twombly in Troop 792. Waidmann not only excels in the classroom, receiving the highest honors with a 4.0, but he is also a natural leader for other Scouts. His Eagle project consisted of organizing teams to build box gardens for the Bridge to Hope organization in North St. Louis County.
Also in Troop 792 is Austin Ryder, who celebrated his Eagle in a double ceremony with Ryan Godar, just a few weeks before their graduation from South High. After a rigorous audition process, Austin was accepted into the Cavalier Marching Band, a premier marching ensemble at the University of Virginia, for which he left less than 48 hours after graduation.
“At the Parkway South band award night, Chris Becker, Austin’s band director, also presented him with the Patrick S. Gilmore award for outstanding contributions to the band. There are a lot of gifted students in the band program, so it was a big honor,” said Kate Ryder, Austin’s mother.
Austin and Ryan managed Eagle Scout projects to provide the Wildlife Rescue Center of Missouri with squirrel shelters. With the help of their peers, they planned and supervised the construction of 50 squirrel shelters. The Wildlife Rescue Center uses over 400 shelters a year in rehabilitating injured squirrels into their natural environment, so the boys’ efforts support an ongoing need.
South High science teacher John Jauss, who attended the Court of Honor Ceremony as an honored guest, is not surprised by the high level of Eagle Scout achievement at South.
“We are so fortunate in this community to have a strong moral foundation, and involved parents that allow students to flourish and thrive in Boy Scouts. Each year, we have a number of students that attain the rank of Eagle Scout. This is a true tribute to so many churches and schools that have involved mothers and fathers committed to the principles of scouting, and working to help these scouts attain Eagle,” Jauss said.