HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- When he was just a seven-year-old Cub Scout, Johnny Capozzi decided he wanted to earn an Eagle Scout Award.
"It was the highest rank, and I wanted to see my name on the plaque at the Municipal Building," he said.
He'll see his name on that plaque soon, as he was awarded his Eagle Scout on Sunday at the Hasbrouck Heights VFW Post #4591. He officially passed the Scout Board of Review in April 2018.
His project, mandatory for a Scouts, was planning and building a Flag Retirement Area on the grounds of the VFW, outside the main doors.
"My mom and I were looking at Eagle projects online and I saw this one," he said. "I liked that no one else had done a project like this."
The project included meeting with members of the VFW, Hasbrouck Heights Zoning Board and Fire Department. Capozzi solicited donations from businesses throughout town, his friends and family. After purchasing the needed supplies, he and members of Troop 17 built the ceremony area, putting in a total of 274 community service hours. There was an inaugural flag retirement ceremony in mid-June in conjunction with Flag Day.
"I was surprised at how much planning it took and how long everything took," he said. "After the project was done, I was surprised at how relieved I felt when it was all completed."
In addition to Scouting, Capozzi had to balance schoolwork as well as other high school activities. He was a three-sport athlete at Hasbrouck Heights High School in football, basketball and baseball, and a member of the National Honor Society. He was also a member of the Hasbrouck Heights Swim Club swim team for several years.
"It wasn't easy," he said. "You have to learn how to make decisions for yourself and make sacrifices."
The Eagle Scout ceremony included an explanation of Capozzi's trail to Eagle, beginning when he joined as a Cub Scout in 2006. He achieved all the ranks, including Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos I, Webelos II and earned the Arrow of Light. He bridged up to the Troop in 2011, achieving all the pre-requisite ranks, Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. He earned 22 Merit Badges, 11 of which are mandatory. He also attended both Cub Scout Camp Lewis in Rockaway, and Boy Scout Camp NoBeBoSco in Blairstown. He also held several leadership roles within the troop.
Sunday's ceremony opened with the Honor Guard's presentation of the flags, Pledge of Allegiance and lighting of the candles. Boy Scout Raymond Pizzo opened the service, Scoutmaster Adam Tegge served as master of ceremonies, and Reverend Patrick Mulewski gave the invocation and benediction.
Capozzi was escorted by Eagle Scouts Peter and Richard Neumann. Eagle Scouts John Riordan and John Mullins led Capozzi in the Eagle Scout Charge and Promise. He received the official Eagle Scout neckerchief and badge from former Scoutmaster Bill Severino.
Capozzi then bestowed miniature Eagle pins to both his parents, his grandmother, and Scout mentor, Severino.
Several community dignitaries spoke and presented Capozzi with honors, including Council members Josephine Ciocia and Christopher Hillmann, Board of Education president Patricia Caruso, Library Director Mimi Hui, Hasbrouck Heights Police Department Lieutenant Michael Colaneri, Jr., Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department's John Riordan, and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War James Halloran.
Some of the notable gifts included the Good Citizenship Award from the Marine Corps League, an American flag that was flown over the United State Capitol in honor the achievement from Congressman Robert Menendez, the complete Percy Jackson book series dedicated to Capozzi which will be available at the Hasbrouck Heights Library, and a congratulatory letter from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In a few weeks, Capozzi will be attending The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing, NJ, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
What would he tell boys about Scouting and the journey to Eagle?
"It's a long journey, but all the fun you have makes it worth all the work in the end."
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