Jones earns Eagle Scout rank through project at Tuscan

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Dylan M. Jones, a recent graduate of Columbia High School and a member of South Orange-Maplewood Boy Scout Troop 60, has earned the rank of Eagle Scout. The badge, together with a certificate and commemorative neckerchief, were presented by Troop Scoutmaster Jeff Bryant and Troop Committee Chairman Jeffrey H. Goldsmith at an Aug. 23 ceremony at Tuscan Elementary School.

Jones completed all requirements for the rank just weeks before turning 18 last April when his eligibility would have expired, and subsequently participated in interviews with his unit leaders, a representative of the Northern New Jersey District Council and an Eagle Scout Board of Review to satisfactorily present evidence of having met all requirements and demonstrated leadership skills.

Jones joined Maplewood’s Cub Scout Pack 3 at age 8 and has been active in Scouting since. He achieved the highest Cub Scout rank of Webelos and Arrow of Light and, at age 11, transitioned to Boy Scout Troop 60. By the time he had become a high school sophomore, he had earned 16 merit badges and attained the second highest rank of Life Scout. He had also been elected to the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society which recognizes those who promote outdoor adventure, camping and environmental stewardship and who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.

Merit badge skills learned in emergency preparedness, lifesaving and personal fitness, along with Red Cross lifeguard training and certification, qualified him for summer employment at the Maplewood Municipal Pool and, during the past two summers, at the Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston.

Near the end of his sophomore year, Jones’ advancement progress was tragically upended when his mother unexpectedly died. A prolonged period of grieving followed. Jones and his father, an assistant scoutmaster, came to the realization that continuing to complete the requirements for the rank of Eagle would be helpful in coping with their feelings of loss. Jones’ father was determined that his son achieve the rank of Eagle, regretting that he had not done so himself after having attained the rank of Life Scout and then prioritizing other interests the last year of high school. 

Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, only 2.01 percent of all eligible Scouts have earned Scouting’s highest honor.

Jones needed to earn at least five more merit badges — a total of 21 — to attain the rank of Eagle, and he needed to complete a community service project. Having become a senior in high school, he found his time increasingly constrained by the demands of multiple commitments, including the college search and application process, varsity athletics, participation in band and graduation activities. He was a first chair in the band’s reed section, and he was a starting player and co-captain of the varsity basketball team, for which he has received special recognition for team leadership and contribution.

Jones’ initial idea for a community service project was to construct and install wood benches at Tuscan Elementary School, which he had attended and where his younger sister was currently a student. Their mother had volunteered much of her time and professional experience at Tuscan; Jones’ mother was a performing arts professional and scholastic educator at NJPAC, and a key producer of Tuscan’s annual PTA Musical Show.

Tuscan welcomed Jones’ request to construct a project at the school and suggested he make improvements to an interior courtyard space that is used for play by students and escape by teachers. Open to the sky and located adjacent to the art department, the courtyard is overseen by art teacher Andrew Dean, who had installed student ceramic art tiles on a low wall to create a Gaudi-like artwork. He encouraged Jones to incorporate provisions for display of student art in his project.

Jones consulted with his grandfather, an architect, who helped him develop a plan for a formal, permanent sitting area which would provide a permanent place for a bench dedicated to the memory of his mother. Jones’ family donated an engraved teak bench to the school, pairing it with another bench that had been previously donated by others but never permanently placed. 

Stone pavers were set on a crushed stone base at the edge of the existing asphalt pavement to create a hardscape for the two benches. A trellis backdrop was installed to define the sitting area by mounting cedar lattice panels on the building wall behind the benches. The panels were custom designed and fabricated with spaces sized to accommodate display of student ceramic art tiles. General landscaping maintenance work was also performed, including raking planting beds, removing debris and pulling weeds, pruning existing and planting new shrubs, and spreading mulch.

Material costs for the project were all paid for by Jones using funds raised by soliciting donations, posting flyers and negotiating discounts with local material suppliers, including Millstone Lawn & Garden and Maplewood Garden Supply. Labor was provided by fellow Scouts and adult leaders, friends and family members, all recruited by Jones to volunteer their time. He coordinated with Tuscan to schedule all work, which was done over three non-school days, and he arranged for the delivery of bulk landscaping materials, tools, drinking water and lunch for the volunteers.

Jones’ project is serving the Tuscan School well by providing an inviting sitting area within its courtyard that is greatly appreciated by both students and teachers. This fall, Jones begins study at the School of Engineering at Rutgers University. 

Photos Courtesy of Jeffrey H. Goldsmith

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