A South Pasadena High School graduate and two students from Eagle Rock High School, all members of Boy Scout Troop 342, earned the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout during a standing-room-only Eagle Court of Honor ceremony at Oneota Congregational Church in South Pasadena on Friday, Jan. 4.
SPHS graduate Glen Levstik, ERHS graduate James Thompson and ERHS senior Danner Renfro each undertook extensive community-service projects and were active leaders in their troop. According to Committee Chair Dean Serwin, historically only about 2 percent of all scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. All three started as Cub Scouts.
“It’s a 10-year culmination of being a scout, and scouting is about leadership, pure and simple,” Serwin told the Review. “Scouting is about passing along the skills, traits and values that we want our sons to have, and now daughters, with them, having fun.”
Levstik’s project involved re-landscaping several different areas around the church and planting new vegetation to make for a more welcoming view. As an astronomy enthusiast, Thompson led a team to create a picnic area on Mount Wilson near the observatory by building a retaining wall, clearing the area and installing a picnic table. Renfro worked with a team to revitalize the Horticulture Center at his school, fixing fencing, decorating it with bamboo and building picnic tables.
The ceremony was attended by Serwin; Eagle Chair Bill Hodson; Scoutmaster Ken Borgerding; Senior Patrol Leader Simon Pierce; Oneonta Minister Lincoln Skinner; previous Troop 366/342 Eagles Evan Baranich, Ryan Vargas and Aaron Salinas, serving as Voice of the Eagle; the Troop 342 Honor Guard; speakers Dr. Travis William, Boy Scouts of America Greater Los Angeles Area Council commissioner and Dr. Tom Hartman, Rose Bowl district advancement chair and vice president of district operations; and guest speaker Mayor Bob Joe. Around 125 were in attendance, including friends and family.
As six scouts from the troop formed the “Trail to Eagle” on the stage at the church, the three Eagle candidates approached them as they waited their turn to walk by them and join Borgerding “at the end of the Trail.”
“You have all come to the very threshold of the Eagle’s nest,” Hodson told the candidates. “Now the three of you stand at the pinnacle; you represent the finest that scouting can offer. The rank of Eagle is the end of a long, hard and wonderful road. We congratulate you gentlemen; you have done it!”
Hodson shared that the pathway to Eagle can be viewed as a trail leading up to three peaks, the highest being that of Eagle Scout. The trail begins with the Scout and Tenderfoot ranks and continues through Second and First Class ranks. The scouts went on to climb a “steeper” trail with merit badgers, leadership responsibilities, service projects, activities and the practice of scouting skills. The first peak reached is that of Star Scout, the second is Life Scout and the third and final is Eagle.
“I am representative of the voice of the eagle, whose nest is set on the highest peak of the scouting trail, the trail you have struggled so hard to climb,” said Hodson. “All scouts, past and present, should look back over the path of their ascent and over their experiences in scouting – for experience is a valuable teacher.”
As Voice of the Eagle, Baranich, Vargas and Salinas impressed upon the scouts the weight and symbolism of their new rank with the four obligations of Eagle Scouts.
Baranich explained that the white color of the Eagle badge represents honor.
“The first responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live with honor,” said Baranich. “An Eagle’s honor is sacred. Honor is the foundation of all character. Character is what a person really is; not what they might think they are. An Eagle’s life should positively influence his family, church, school and friends. May the white of your badge remind you to always live with honor.”
Vargas shared that the blue of the badge was a reminder of the obligation of loyalty.
“Without loyalty, all character lacks direction,” said Vargas. “‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow as day follows night, thou canst not then be false to any man.’ Neither pain, nor profit, pride, nor personal loss shall change him in his loyalty.”
Salinas told the candidates that the third obligation is courage, symbolized by red in the badge.
“Courage gives character force and strength,” said Salinas. “Trusting in God and with faith in others, he faces each day unafraid and seeks his share of the world’s work to do. Let red remind you always of courage.”
In conclusion, Baranich said that the final obligation of an Eagle Scout is service.
“He extends a helping hand to those who are still traveling the Scouting trail, just as others helped him in his achievement of Eagle rank,” said Baranich.
“The habit of the daily Good Turn must take on a new meaning through a life of service to all those who need him. He protects and defends the weak and helpless. He aids and comforts the unfortunate and oppressed. He upholds the rights of others while defending his own. He will know and always will be prepared to put forth his best.”