Troop 304 has done it again.
For the third time in four years, the Boy Scout troop based out of the Lovett School in Buckhead has had a class of 12 or more Scouts who earned their Eagle awards. This year’s group, honored May 5, has 14 new Eagle Scouts, and the troop had 12 Eagle Scouts in 2016 and 2018.
All Lovett students, they are seniors David Eckardt, James Harrison and Knox Massey, juniors Blaise Achecar, Jeremiah Allen, Davis Burch, Aiden Camillo, Gus Feinour, Frank Lummus, Justin Novellas, Tyler Neville and Jonathan Wolle and sophomores Tommy Bradbury and Luke Ferrara.
The Eagle award is the highest honor in Scouting, and only 4 percent of Boy Scouts receive the accolade, which requires the completion of a service project. Famous Eagle Scouts include director Steven Spielberg, President Gerald Ford and astronaut Neil Armstrong.
“I think it’s a credit to several things but mainly the boys themselves have made the troop a fun activity within their curriculum, and it is equally as applauded as sports and the arts at school. As a result, the troop has grown to be fairly large, (with) about 90 Boy Scouts in the troop,” said Kevin Link, the troop’s committee chair and former scoutmaster whose three sons each received their Eagle award, with the youngest getting his in 2016.
Trey Googe, the troop’s assistant scoutmaster whose son Jack earned his Eagle award last year, agreed.
“It’s really a credit to the boys who have balanced a very demanding academic, athletics and fine arts schedule with the requirements of Scouting,” he said.
Link said as the troop has grown, its younger Scouts have been influenced by the older ones’ success.
“Both the school supports it and the students themselves support it and look at it positively as a good thing to do, (so) then more kids take part in it and stick with it,” he said. “The retention of Scouts is higher than normal, and that’s why you see so many Eagle Scouts. You see at other troops some Boy Scouts getting out (of Scouting) in high school or earlier.
“Historically only 4% make it to Eagle. The 14 scouts that went through the ceremony have done one or all the high-adventure offerings Scouts have, whether canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Canada, backpacking at Philmont (Scout Ranch) in New Mexico or sailing in the (Florida) Keys. That keeps the Scouts engaged because they’re really fun and high adventure-type activities.”
Each Boy Scout had to complete a service project to receive his Eagle award.
Achecar, 17, the son of Evelyn and Freddy Achecar, created a permanent memorial including signage and benches in the name of Ed McCrady, a member of the Lovett and Scouting community who died. Allen, 17, the son of Sue and Steve Allen, cleaned over two miles for Lovett’s cross country trail.
Bradbury, 16, the son of Julie and Tom Bradbury, created 12 racks for clothes and shoes for Chattahoochee Church’s clothing program for the needy. Burch, 17, the son of Denise and Ed Burch, built benches and picnic table for Agape, an after-school program for inner-city children.
Camillo, 17, the son of Keira and Jay Camillo, built three bins by the motor pool at Lovett to serve as a recycling center for organic material. Eckardt, 18, the son of Cindy and David Eckardt, built a memorial garden for St. Anne’s Episcopal Church near an area that houses cremated parishioners.
Feinhour, 17, the son of Molly and Ed Feinour, rebuilt and restocked a turtle habitat at Blue Heron Preserve. Ferrara, 15, the son of Eric and Nancy Ferrara, built and installed bat houses for the Rivermead Homeowners Association.
Harrison, 18, the son of Deborah Hodge Harrison and Bill Harrison, created and installed signage marking natural areas and trees along Lovett’s cross country trail. Lummus, 17, the son of Magner and Porter Lummus, built a grill area and cooktop for New Hope AME Church.
Massey, 18, the son of Jamie and Knox Massey, marked, mapped and cleaned headstones for the old First St. John Baptist Church’s historical graveyard in Vinings. Novellas, 17, the son of Jennifer and Scott Novellas, developed and instructed inner-city kids at the Agape STEM Camp about science and technology topics including the development of simple computer programs.
Neville, 17, the son of Michelle and Jeff Neville, built outdoor picnic tables for the Blue Heron Nature Preserve. Wolle, 16, the son of Victoria and Scott Wolle, rebuilt a beehive area for Lovett, including a garden area and additional fencing.
Link said this year’s group is different from the 2018 one in that it has students from three classes as opposed to last year’s class, which had all seniors. Both he and Googe said having so many Boy Scouts earn their Eagle awards was a team effort that included the boys, their parents and the troop leaders.
“What was interesting about this class is so many of their parents were involved in the troop in a leadership capacity,” Link said. “We had a lot of assistant scoutmasters (or other roles) from these guys. You can see a correlation that if the parent gets involved, the boy is going to make it all the way through. … What’s unique about it is if you think about anything a kid can go through, the parents are on the sidelines, but in Scouting, the kids can take an active role and walk the trail with the boys or do the activity with the boys. We saw a high percentage of that with these 14.”