Soaring with Eagles “puts you in rare company”
This article was updated with additional information on April 1, 2020.
In the Boy Scouts of America, the rank of Eagle is the highest achievement attainable. Since its formation in 1911, only four percent of Scouts completed the many challenges that are required to reach that goal. Nevertheless, since scouting began, 2.5 million young men have become Eagle Scouts.
Four of those Eagle Scouts are part of Mount Carmel’s faculty: Mr. Stephen Lilly, Mr. Jim Peltzer, Mr. Dominic Scheuring, and Mr. John Stimler. There also are five current students who are on the road to achieving that status: Joe Baranowski, Zachary Beaver, Noah Sanchez, Brad Uzubell, and Alexander Uzubell.
Dedicated Boy Scouts usually begin their journey toward Eagle Scout in 4th or 5th grade, and progress through a series of ranks, beginning with Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class. Once they have achieved 1st Class rank, they can begin earning merit badges, choosing from 135 possibilities. As merit badges are accumulated, Scouts rise through additional ranks of Star and Life.
As Theology teacher Scheuring observed, that’s when the real challenge begins, as “some get stuck on Life for life.”
However, according to Scheuring, those candidates who persevere “develop competencies that get affirmed” throughout the rest of their lives.
MC faculty member Jim Peltzer is among those who worked hard to achieve the rank of Eagle, and whose experiences carried over to a work ethic that has enabled him to get to where he is today.
Peltzer, a 2002 graduate of MC who currently works in the counseling department, attended St. Xavier University, earning his bachelor’s degree in science and psychology in 2006. He later earned graduate degrees from the Chicago School of Psychology and Governor State University.
As a youth, Peltzer was a part of Boy Scout Troop 652 in Oak Lawn. He qualified as an Eagle at the Board of Review (the panel of Scout leaders who evaluate each candidate) on his 18th birthday, and his Eagle ceremony was the night before his senior prom.
Peltzer recalls that, initially, earning the rank of Eagle Scout wasn’t a big priority. Then his mother reminded him how much it would have meant to his grandmother, who had gotten him started in scouting at a young age.
Once he found that motivation, he got down to work, a big part of that which was accumulating the necessary merit badges. One of Peltzer’s favorites was the citizenship merit badge, which required visits to the City Council and interviews with civic leaders.
Peltzer’s Eagle Scout Project was to renovate the vestibule of a local church. The project offered him practical experience of leadership, and an opportunity to deepen the sense of connection with his fellow scouts.
“It’s a brotherhood – and everybody has a place. It’s great to see kids in a different dynamic (than school or sports) all working together.”
Three of the current MC students who are on the path to becoming Eagles – the Uzubell brothers, Alexander ’21 and Brad ’23, along with Noah Sanchez ’22 – belong to the same Troop 542, sponsored by St. Thomas More Church in Munster. Joe Baranowski ’22 – belongs to Troop 1, sponsored by Menominee Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, and Zach Beaver is part of Troop 684, sponsored by the Mount Greenwood Lutheran Church.
Alexander Uzubell hopes to complete his journey to Eagle this summer. He’s in the process of defining the scope of his project, which is to construct a playground or renovate a children’s playroom for his grammar school.
His favorite scouting activity was the ATV certification, and for him the toughest challenge so far was the Personal Management/Finance merit badge.
Having done a similar project himself, Scheuring commends him on the plan.
“It’s nice to do something you can come back to see.”
As a whole, those who achieved the goal already, and the young men who aspire to follow in their path, agree. As Scheuring observed, being an Eagle Scout, “puts you in rare company.”
And while they are few in number, “when you meet a fellow Eagle, you feel a level of respect.”
Francisco Enrique Avila attends Mount Carmel High School and plays soccer. He is 17 years old, and his goals are to finish high school and to attend a...