When Garrett Dawson got word that Harper Junior High School was looking for someone who could build a small store on campus where leadership students could sell everything from school supplies to Harper sweatshirts, he knew he’d found just the project for his Eagle Scout award.
The Harper eighth-grader had been planning for years to earn his Eagle Scout award, and he knew he wanted to do so while benefiting his school. And then there was that other motivating factor: Earning his Eagle Scout award this year, at the age of 13, would top everyone else in the family.
“I’m kind of competitive,” he admitted. “My dad got it at 14 … and both my brothers got Eagle Scout, but I’m younger than they were when they did.”
He still has to earn a couple of merit badges and complete his report on the project, but Garrett likely will complete all the requirements well before most Eagle Scouts, many of whom earn the award when they are closer to 16 or 17.
It wasn’t an easy project for Garrett either.
Harper had specified an 8-by-10-foot structure with a slanted rooftop. Garrett had no construction experience, but as many other Davis teens who take on community service projects have learned, there’s no shortage of help in this town.
Garrett’s neighbor, Chris Snow, of Coldwell Banker, was a huge help, as were Dave and John Brann of John Brann Concrete. The adults framed and built the basic structure using Garrett’s design, leaving lots of hammering and painting for Garrett and his team of volunteers, which included family members and fellow Scouts. Hibbert Lumber, meanwhile, provided discounts on building materials and Harper footed the bill for supplies.
Garrett started the planning process in the beginning of the summer, filling out worksheets and getting everything approved by the Boy Scouts, before designing the building and pricing materials.
“The hardest thing was the planning before the building,” he said. “You have to be really specific in the worksheets.”
He also learned a lot about leading people in a project and working hard to meet deadlines.
“Harper wanted it done as soon as possible in the school year,” he explained.
The team started building in mid-September, assembling the walls off site before taking everything to the Harper campus to put it together the weekend of Sept. 20.
“We got all the walls up and nailed together in a few hours,” he said, “and then painted. It took a full weekend.”
“I thought it looked great,” Garrett said. “A lot of people were really impressed by it and kind of surprised to see it the next Monday.”
Located near the main office, the new structure will house a school store that will be run by Harper’s leadership class. Garrett, meanwhile, will get to enjoy seeing his project used by classmates for the next two years that he’s on campus.
James Broaddus is no longer a Holmes Junior High School student — he’s a sophomore at Davis High School now — but that doesn’t mean Holmes doesn’t hold a special place in his heart.
And as he was considering what project to take on for his Eagle Scout award this year, he headed back to Holmes to look for inspiration. There in the back of the school, under the shade of numerous tall pines, he found it: the outdoor amphitheater that had fallen into disrepair.
“It’s something I always thought had a lot of potential,” James said of the area. “People always want to be outside.”
The amphitheater reportedly was built by a group of teachers, students and parents who wanted an outdoor classroom area, but over the years, the wooden benches had started breaking down, weeds and ivy were growing everywhere and the stage had sunk in places. In short, the area had lost its appeal as an outdoor learning space.
James approached his mom, Alison Broaddus, an English teacher at Holmes, and asked her if she would use the space with her classes if he fixed it up.
“I said, ‘Absolutely,’ ” she recalled.
She told him she thought many other Holmes teachers would use it as well.
So after all of the usual early work that goes into Eagle Scout projects — the planning, the approval process, fundraising and the like — James, accompanied by dozens of fellow Scouts, friends and family members, got to work on Saturday morning. By midday, they had replaced broken wooden benches and sanded and restained the remaining benches, poured decomposed granite into the stage area and leveled it out and filled dozens of large garbage bags with weeds, ivy, pine needles and other yard waste.
“I’m amazed at how much we’ve done and how many people we’ve got out here,” James said that afternoon.
They would return the next day to finish the benches and install two wooden posts on the stage that will be used to hold a white board that teachers can use for outdoor classes.
The final touch will be a plaque that Davis Awards and Watchworks helped James design — and gave him a discount on — that will be installed on the stage, proclaiming it “Patriot Theater” after the school’s mascot.
In addition to Davis Awards, James credited his Scoutmaster, Paul Meyer, as well as his parents, Alison and Andy Broaddus, for their help along the way. Hibbert Lumber, meanwhile, helped him figure out the bench dimensions and gave him a discount on the wood, and the Holmes PTA funded the project.
“I’m really happy with the way it’s turning out,” James said.
So is his mom, who said she can already picture her English students on the stage, reciting their Shakespeare or reading or writing nearby.
“I can see the art classes using it, the science classes coming out,” she said.
And all thanks to another Davis Eagle Scout.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy