MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Five young men from the community spread their wings and soared through the ranks of Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in a court of honor ceremony held by Troop 5 at Columbia High School on June 24.
The five members of the troop who earned the esteemed rank are: Aanuoluwapo Fawole, Christian Niles, David Niles Jr., Harrison Niles and Maxwell Winters. The scouts are under the guidance of Scoutmaster Roger Brauchli.
This year’s awardees included triplets Christian, David and Harrison Niles receiving the Eagle Scout rank at the same time, an occurrence that Brauchli said he has never seen in his more than 40 years as a Scoutmaster.
“Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Scout can receive, and only 4 percent of those who join Boy Scouts ever obtain it. We had five young men receive that rank this year, and to me it shows how important Scouting is to them,” Brauchli said in a recent phone interview with the News-Record. “I’m very proud of the way that they budgeted their time for Scouting, along with fulfilling their other commitments to education, religious activities, and family and other community involvement that they have.”
Brauchli said that, in addition to there being six ranks before attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, a significant part of the last three ranks before Eagle is demonstrating leadership within the troop.
“There are 21 badges to be an Eagle Scout, 11 of which are required,” he said. “The badges are earned for categories ranging from citizenship to first aid to personal management, and a host of other things.”
Brauchli is entering his 48th year as a Scoutmaster, and both he and his son are also products of the Troop 5 of Maplewood. All five of the new Eagle Scouts have been in Troop 5 for the past seven years, since graduating from their respective packs in Maplewood and South Orange.
Brauchli said that, in addition to the badges and demonstration of troop leadership, a major part of earning the rank of Eagle Scout is the planning and execution of a community service project, which all five young men did with various entities in the community.
Fawole, a 2016 graduate of Columbia High School, chose to go back to his musical roots for his community service project. While a student at CHS, Fawole, was a member of the a cappella group Unaccompanied Minors and served as its musical director during his senior year, as well as participating in the CHS Honor Choir, the New Jersey Region Choir and the New Jersey All-State Choir for three years.
For his project, Fawole gave back to the CHS music program by refurbishing the school’s choir library. Along with his volunteers, Falowe cataloged all of sheet music; additionally, the music for each song was put into new storage boxes and cataloged into an online library program available to school staff and students. He also stripped, sanded and refinished doors in the music room, and replaced or fixed handles on eight of the doors. In all, 631 hours were donated to complete this project.
Christian Niles, a 2016 graduate of Millburn High School, chose his church home as the focal point of his community service project. Specifically, he led his volunteers through a complete remake of the boardroom at First Presbyterian and Trinity Church of South Orange. The room was completely gutted, a new ceiling and walls were installed, windows repaired and the entire room was painted. More than 409 hours were donated to the completion of this project.
David Niles Jr., a 2016 graduate of Millburn High School, also chose First Presbyterian and Trinity Church for his community service project. David and his volunteers completely renovated a water-damaged room, repairing the walls, ceiling and windows, as well as painting the room. The room is now used by the church as a youth room; 399 hours were donated by David Niles Jr. and his volunteers.
“For the community service project, you’re supposed to do something that you can come back to 10 years from now and still see it standing,” David Niles Jr. said in a phone interview with the News-Record. “A lot of people choose a beneficiary based on their hobbies, and for mine I decided to help out my church because it’s a great congregation and I wanted to give back.”
Harrison Niles, a 2016 graduate of Millburn High School, chose the American Legion Post No. 140 of Millburn as the beneficiary of his community service project. For his project, with volunteer help, he made improvements to the Memorial Garden. This included removing the gravel pathway, dead trees and plants, painting the cannon and mortar, and planting new shrubbery and plants. He also assembled a scrapbook featuring the veterans whose names are on display in the Memorial Garden. The scrapbook features descriptions of each veteran’s career as well as letters that the American Legion received from the veteran’s families and friends. In all, 130 volunteer hours were donated to this project.
Winters, a 2017 graduate of Columbia High School, chose a community service project in which he restored bikes to benefit The Parenting Center of South Orange and Maplewood, Life Camp of Newark Boys and Girls Club, and three local refugee families. After collecting bikes from South Orange, Maplewood and the surrounding communities, Winters fundraised to purchase necessary parts needed for bike repairs. He then organized work days and trained his volunteers to repair the bikes. All bikes were inspected, thoroughly cleaned and given mechanical tune-ups. More than 130 volunteer hours were donated to complete this project.
“Troop 5 is a special community. The boy-run troop allows for leadership, service to the community, and strong friendships to develop between boys and their families during their adolescence and early adulthood,” Assistant Scoutmaster Alex Ragone said in a recent email to the News-Record. “Roger and his assistant Scoutmasters have built a strong community that is tied to tradition but consistently iterating and evolving.”
Photos Courtesy of Alex Ragone