Aaron Toland | Staff Writer
The year is 2009. Josh Cornelius is a pint-sized first grader from North Grove Elementary School; he is enamored with Star Wars. Currently, Cornelius is dressed in the button-up, navy blue uniform of a Cub Scout; his bright orange handkerchief identifies him as a Tiger Scout. Cornelius is attending a Cub Scout car race known as the Pinewood Derby.
At the Pinewood Derby, Scouts race miniature wooden cars down a metal track.These cars were made by the scouts and their fathers. For the race, Cornelius and his father made a car that looked like a snake coming out of a rock. At the Pinewood Derby, Cornelius is full of glee; what could be better? He gets to goof around with his fellow Tiger Scout friends while they get to race the cars that they made.
Fast forward almost a decade later to February 18, 2018. Cornelius is now a freshman at CGHS; his school mascot has changed from one ancient warrior, the Viking, to another, the Trojan. Cornelius is no longer pint-sized either; he now stands at five foot ten and clocks in at 150 pounds. He has exchanged his navy blue Cub Scout uniform for the tan uniform of a Boy Scout. His love for Star Wars, however, has still not faltered.Today, Cornelius is not focused on the Pinewood Derby; thinking back on it, the race seems trivial to him. Today Cornelius is instead at a banquet held in his honor. He has earned the highest rank that scouting has to offer: the Eagle rank.
Cornelius’s Eagle Court of Honor is almost over; his parents just delivered a speech about how proud they are of their son’s achievement. Cornelius is now up to bat. He is supposed to deliver a speech on his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout and what being an Eagle Scout means to him. He still does not have anything prepared.
Since February of 2014, when Cornelius and his fellow scouts crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, Cornelius tirelessly worked toward the rank of Eagle. While many of his peers became inactive or quit scouts altogether, Cornelius continued to work his way up the scouting ranks.
Cornelius worked his way up the troop’s leadership hierarchy as well.
“For six months, I was the patrol leader; I was in charge of about five or six other boys,” said Cornelius. “After I was done being patrol leader, I became the chaplin’s aid which is the troop’s religious leader. I was then elected as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, the second- in-command of everyone in my troop.”
Then Cornelius reached the pinnacle of youth leadership: he was elected as the Senior Patrol Leader of troop 564, a position he still holds today. As the Senior Patrol Leader, he is in charge of all 26 scouts registered in the troop.
“I have to plan the activities for every meeting and try to keep all of the scouts under control,”said Cornelius. “Being Senior Patrol Leader is very stressful because it is hard to keep a dozen plus teenagers under control. As the SPL, I have to help keep my troop running. If something went wrong, I am usually blamed. That adds to the stress as well.”
For a scout to earn the highest rank, they must complete several tasks. Scouts must hold a variety of leadership positions, finish all required merit badges and learn a variety of scouting skills. Scouts also must complete an Eagle project. In an Eagle project, a scout must lead several other scouts from their troop in a service project that benefits their community.
For Cornelius’s Eagle project, he chose to benefit the military.
“For my eagle project, I and several other scouts went to Camp Atterbury—a military camp in Indiana,” said Cornelius. “We went to six Medal of Honor monuments and just made them look good again. We put in fresh rock, planted trees and installed solar lights at each monument. The hardest part of my project was asking for donations for materials I needed because I hate asking for things without working for them.My Eagle project helped benefit the community because it brought recognition to the Medal of Honor monuments and the actions that veterans performed to earn their Medal of Honor.”
That is how Cornelius reached the rank of Eagle. Now this is how he finished. Back to Cornelius’s speech. Cornelius is now walking up to the podium. As he arrives at the podium and adjusts the microphone, he peers out at the crowd. Looking at the people that have helped him on his journey to Eagle, a thought arises in his head. He finally knows why he is an Eagle today. It’s all the people in the crowd. Those are the people he will dedicate his speech to today.