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Trio of Eagle Scouts Leave their Mark

Highland High School (HHS) seniors Luke Munson, William Maier, and Patrick Leonard recently earned the prestigious Eagle Scout recognition—the highest ranking available from the Boy Scouts of America.

To attain the honor, a scout needs to meet multiple requirements, including earning a minimum of 21 merit badges; serving in a leadership position for at least six months; proposing, planning, and carrying out an Eagle service project that benefits the community; and attending a Scoutmaster conference and passing a board of review.

Superintendent Thomas Bongiovi is impressed with the student’s dedication to service. “Achieving the Eagle Scout rank is an enormous accomplishment, I am so proud of these three Highland High School students for their commitment and focus on their community through these projects.”

For his Eagle Scout project, Munson renovated an existing room at Highland High School and turned it into a new Music Production and Recording Studio, which has already been used by Munson and the Music Department to begin recording for its upcoming production of Wonderland High. The studio is dedicated to the memory of Munson’s dad, Eric Munson, who played guitar and bass. It was the perfect way to commemorate his memory, Munson said. “Playing music together was sort of my way of connecting with him when he was alive, and it became that even more so after he died,” he said.

Munson did a great deal of research on how to build and set up a recording studio and launched a GoFundMe site to raise the money he needed. Even though he faced challenges in scheduling time to work on the studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, Munson said he is very pleased with the results. “I would have loved to have a place like this when I was a freshman or a sophomore, and now the new high schoolers will have it.”

“It feels so good to have completed the project,” he added. “I’m sure my dad would have loved it, which makes me love it even more.”

Maier created a special new pocket park on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail called the “Frank Maier Train Park,” located near the Rotary’s Centennial Garden, by Commercial Avenue in Highland. Maier chose the project to honor his grandfather, an avid collector of trains and train-related memorabilia. Maier installed railroad artifacts like switch stands, maintenance and whistle flags, and two traditional black and white X railroad crossing signs—all provided by his grandmother Phyllis—and then created signs with descriptions of each. Maier said it was a perfect way to honor his grandfather, with whom he spent many days “running” the many model train sets he had, some of which reached from floor to ceiling. The Eagle rank means a lot to Maier, whose father and many other mentors in his life also earned. “I’m proud to be a part of the few who are able to achieve this special honor,” he said.

Lastly, Leonard designed and helped to build an outdoor fitness center at Thomas Felton Park in the hamlet of Modena. The fitness space includes two pull-up bars, a push-up bar, a sit-up station, and a fresh new drinking fountain for post-workout hydration. He selected this project because he thought it would benefit residents, as well as the children in summer camps, which he himself attended. He also wanted to leave his “Eagle Scout footprint” in his hometown. Leonard says the project was challenging, but worth it. “It was tough to keep all the paperwork organized, but I think it prepared me for adulthood,” he said. “I learned I can persevere through difficulty and that there is always a finish line even when it seems impossible.”

HHS Principal William Zimmer expressed his pride in the newly honored Eagle Scouts. “We are so proud of our students for showing the dedication and hard work that it takes to achieve this rank. Not only will the skills they learned be a benefit to them, but their projects will be long enjoyed and appreciated by the whole community," he said.