Five California High School graduates rise to Eagle Scout rank

5 eagles sideStory by Keren Lee Dreyer

The years-long road to scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout, is rigorous, involving the acquisition of first aid skills, home, local, and world citizenship skills, and much more. 21 Merit Badges in all must be earned, with some taking three months and accurate record-keeping to complete. Also, 24 overnight camping outings, 16 months in a leadership position, and completion of a comprehensive Eagle Scout project are just a few more requirements to earn the honor.

It is small wonder that only about 2% of scouts have made it through Eagle Scout since the rank was created in 1912. And though a rare honor, five members of Troop 1391 in Fredericktown, PA, graduated California Area High School as Eagle Scouts. They are: Michael Berish-Goroncy, of California; Elek Buday, of California; Niles Hansen, of California; Thomas Rebar, of Roscoe; and Thomas Roberts, of Elco.

Eagle Scout projects are developed, implemented, and executed as a way of making a positive change benefiting the community. For his project, Niles Hansen raised $2,000 for the California Area Food Bank by buying a savory selection of food items, then using those to create Christmas food baskets for the less fortunate. Hansen credits his mother, Darla, as his inspiration and the one who “pushed me to be the best. Good, best, better. Never let it rest. Till your good is better and your better best,” said Hansen through e-mail correspondence.

The benefits of his project went both ways by providing “important skills that I will use in the future,” Hansen said, adding that those skills include critical thinking and problem solving, adaptability, assessing and analyzing information, and many more.

Inspiration for Thomas Rebar’s project came from his desire to give back to American Legion Post 391 in Fredericktown, which for years has hosted Troop 1391 at its facility’s banquet hall.

“I wanted to give back to them for letting us use their building all that time, which is why I chose to remodel a room in the Legion,” including the building and installation of new shelving to improve storage space in that room, Rebar said. “Another factor that I considered was a problem we ran into when we would replace grave markers for veterans at the cemeteries…we had to dig markers out of water damaged boxes that were not sorted and looked very sloppy.” Rebar’s solution was to “build a custom table that holds the markers up right, are easily accessible, and are placed in order.”

“During the project I learned how important it is to have a plan and be a leader. I also learned how to use a variety of tools, building techniques, and what it really means to give back to the community.”

In choosing to help revamp the community park in Roscoe, PA, Thomas Roberts fulfilled his desire to benefit the local community. “I wanted something that everyone could enjoy, and it was a project that needed done. I learned that with a lot of preparation and planning, some hardworking friends, and a supportive family that anything can be done.”

In addition to hard working Eagle Scout friends, some close friends, and family, Roberts also had help from Roscoe Mayor, Tom Wilkinson, who was not just overseer, but labored with Roberts and company on a daily basis to get the project done.

According to Roberts, his park improvement and beautification work included “building and placing a brand new jungle gym, re-mulching around the jungle gym, planting flowers and re-mulching the flower beds, painting the park benches, and power washing the fence around the park and the gazebo.”

For his Eagle Scout project, Michael Berish-Goroncy renovated the banquet hall of American Legion Post 39 in Fredericktown. His future plans include becoming an ENT.

Elek Buday raised over $10,000 for a fence and patio project for the California Area Public Library. He will go on to WVU to study aerospace engineering.

Those attaining Eagle Scout rank benefit in tangible ways throughout their lifetime. Eagle Scouts applying to university are at an advantage over similar applicants, while Eagle Scout only scholarships are available to take the sting out of tuition costs. The advantages also extend to potential employment, as companies appreciate the dedication, problem solving skills, and work ethic of their Eagle Scout applicants. Additionally, higher ranks and pay grades await Eagle Scouts who join the U.S. military.

To learn more about scouting and its benefits, visit the Boy Scouts of America at