Vestavia Hills High Senior Class Boasts 24 Eagle Scouts
By Ben Johnson
It’s rare for a senior class to have several Eagle Scouts among its members, because attaining scouting’s highest rank takes years of hard work and dedication.
However, the class of 2013 at Vestavia Hills High School boasts 24 students who have completed or are in the process of completing the requirements to become Eagle Scouts.
While Vestavia High School usually has three or four Eagle Scouts among its seniors, this year’s class has two dozen young men who have been working towards achieving the rank for several years.
The seniors said becoming an Eagle Scout is more than just achieving a title to them. They said it is a testament to their work ethic and high moral standards.
“It means I have achieved a lot, but it also means I am held to a higher standard, ethically and as a citizen,” said 18-year-old Christian Sitarz. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of the same fraternity as previous Eagles, from astronaut Neil Armstrong to President Gerald Ford, who have all accomplished the same requirements of the 100-plus-year-old program’s highest honor.”
The path to becoming an Eagle Scout begins in fifth grade. That’s when boys can join the Scouts. However, most of these scouts’ journeys began in the first grade with the Cub Scouts.
“I became involved with Boy Scouts because I had already done Cub Scouts for five years,” said Joseph Breedlove, 17.
For many, the experiences they had as Cub Scouts inspired them to continue with Boy Scouts.
“My dad initially signed me up for Cub Scouts, getting me plugged in early on. I also loved the camping and wilderness survival aspects that are synonymous with scouting,” Christian said.
Once a fifth grader joins a troop, he begins as a Tenderfoot. Through different skills tests, community service events and special projects, scouts can move up from Tenderfoot to Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and eventually achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
In order to reach the Eagle rank, a scout must exhibit leadership within the group, earn 21 merit badges and develop an Eagle project.
Eagle Scout projects are projects that benefit the community, said Michelle Adamo, mother of 18-year-old Peter Adamo, an Eagle Scout in the senior class at Vestavia High.
“I think that, aside from the dedication that it takes to stick with scouting from fifth grade through high school, one of the most interesting areas of becoming an Eagle is the way that the community benefits via the various Eagle Scout projects that the boys do,” Michelle Adamo said. “The projects must benefit a nonprofit, meet a variety of very specific criteria and be presented by the scout to a council of scout leaders for pre-approval and, after completion, presented again for final approval.”
Peter’s Eagle Scout project was building a 16-foot octagonal patio/deck with benches around the edges, along with a walkway. Several other class members’ Eagle Scout projects involved some type of environmental project for a park, school or church.
“I landscaped and laid flagstone at the preschool entrance and playground area at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church,” said 17-year-old Mitchell Beers.
John Cooper, 17, built three composite wood picnic tables at Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church in Vestavia Hills for his Eagle Scout project.
Christopher McCullers constructed an “octo-ball” court at Camp Dawson to earn his Eagle Scout rank.
Hunter Brantley helped out his school with his Eagle Scout project, building steps in the junior parking lot at Vestavia Hills High.
Joseph Breedlove built a set of stone stairs at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest that connects the rock pavilion to a stream and a series of trails.
This year, more than half the Eagle Scouts in the Vestavia Hills High School class of 2013 belong to Troop 4, which operated out of Vestavia Methodist and was led by Jeff Winkle. Winkle recently stepped down as the troop leader after 10 years of service.
Other troops represented in the class are Troops 83, 254, 110, 76 and 69.
“I’m real proud of the boys and what they’ve accomplished,” Winkle said. “I’ve been troop leader since ’04 and had about 50 boys become Eagle Scouts in those eight years.
“One thing that distinguishes this group is that they’re involved in other things like sports, band and part-time jobs. They are also encouraging to one another. They work together and are willing to help with each other’s projects.”
While there are many requirements to gaining the rank of Eagle, the students said they believe their hard work was worthwhile. Several said a love of scouting is something they hope to share with their own children someday.
“Being an Eagle Scout is great honor to me,” Christopher McCullers said. “I know many Eagles Scouts, and no matter how old they are or what else they may have accomplished, they still consider earning the rank of Eagle to be one of their greatest achievements.
“I have visited the Eagle monument at Liberty Park and seen my dad and my older brother’s names chiseled in that wall. I look forward to showing that to the next generation of scouts in my family.”
The other scouts in the senior class are Daniel Moran, Troop 226; Cole Aiken, Troop 4: James Gale; Troop 110, Sam Culver, Troop 4; Preston Hall, Troop 4: Aubrey Harper, Troop 254; Patrick Snell, Troop 83; Mitchell Beers, Troop 4; David Conour, Troop 4; Cooper Leibach, Troop 4; Michael Allen, Troop 4; Josh McMeans, Troop 4; Garrett Fallon, Troop 4; Skyler Rakes, Troop 4; Chris Rozier, Troop 4; Graham Black, Troop 69; James Carmichael, Troop 254; Alex Whitacre, Troop 4; and Joe Timberlake, Troop 4.