MONTVILLE, NJ – Almost 100 Scouts, leaders, family, friends and honored guests gathered on June 10 to celebrate the Court of Honor for Eagle Scout Conner Phalen.
Conner who will be a senior at Montville Township High School in September led a project at Woodmont Elementary School in October of 2016, his “alma mater.” The three tables with bench seating, podium, demonstration table, and chalkboard comprise what is called an “outdoor classroom,” an outdoor area where teachers can bring their students to observe, learn and enjoy fresh air under a canopy of trees near the playground of the school.
As his first act as the new Scoutmaster, Tom Radcliffe served as the MC for the ceremony, according to former Scoutmaster Patrick Phalen, Conner’s father.
“It was a very spirited and emotional ceremony,” Patrick said. “Presenters included former post commander Frank Warholic from the VFW, and Gary Truebig, the Fishawak district chair. Tom presented the township proclamation and Eagle statue on behalf of the mayor.”
Woodmont School Principal Dominic Esposito, a former Scout himself, presented at the ceremony as well.
“Some argue that the values embodied in the Scout law and Scout oath are antiquated and unnecessary,” Esposito said. “[That] they are attachments to a bygone era and hold little meaning for today’s youth. However, as someone who earns their living guiding and shaping young minds, I cannot stress enough how much our society craves scouting’s principles and young men like Conner.
“Today we celebrate the accomplishments of a leader. Conner, hundreds of individuals benefit from your act of service. Children and staff eagerly sign up to use the outdoor classroom. Your gift provides welcome relief and builds lasting memories.”
Conner was awarded the Patriots’ Path Council’s “Scout Scholar Athlete” award, according to Patrick, which requires a Scout to excel academically, athletically, and in Scouting.
“The award represents a Scout who is not only able to balance participation in these activities, but one who does all of these activities at the highest level,” Patrick said. “Academically, Conner falls within the top 5% of his class while focusing on an honors and advanced placement [college-level] curriculum. Athletically, he has earned a varsity letter in track for each season, every year since he was a freshman.”
Conner told the attendees how much he had learned about leadership during his years in Scouts.
“Throughout my time in Scouting, I truly believe that I learned how to be a leader and what leadership actually meant,” he said. “It’s one thing to read about what a leader is, but to actually experience it, as I did when serving as the senior patrol leader, helped me understand it further.”
“A senior patrol leader works closely with the other Scout leaders to make sure that everyone who volunteered to do something has a sense of responsibility in meeting those commitments,” Patrick explained.
Conner said that the lessons learned as senior patrol leader have transitioned him into high school.
“As senior patrol leader I had to learn to put out fires as they sprang up, and as the year went on, I noticed the changes in my confidence and ability to communicate with others to accomplish a task,” he said. “Since serving as senior patrol leader last year, I currently hold four leadership roles in clubs and activities at the high school, something I could have never imagined doing before my experiences in Scouting.”
Patrick said that a big surprise was Esposito announcing that the school will be naming the outdoor classroom “Conner's Corner,” in honor of the Eagle Scout.
“Working towards [my] Eagle Scout award taught me valuable lessons in how to carry myself and instilled in me a real understanding of the importance of service and giving back to others that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Conner said.
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