By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
There must be something in the water at Xaverian High School. It makes boys want to fly like eagles!
Five members of the Class of 2014, a boy who will graduate next year and an art teacher are all proud Eagle Scouts, having achieved the highest rank there is in the Boy Scouts of America.
The boys who now hold the coveted rank of Eagle Scout are: Theodore Veroutis (Class of 2014), Vincent Mangano, (Class of 2015), Nicholas Gangemi (Class of 2014), Peter DiSalvo (Class of 2014), Dimitri Leonardos (Class of 2014) and George Raiola (Class of 2014). Teacher John Hendricks earned his Eagle Scout medal in 2001.
The Boy Scouts of America issued at statement on the accomplishments of the Xaverian High School group. “We congratulate these young men on the accomplishment of earning Eagle rank. Since 1912, more than two million Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout by achieving excellence in leadership, service and outdoor skills, and each year we congratulate the more than 55,000 young men who earn this great honor,” the statement read.
Last year, 136 boys in New York City earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Very few Boy Scouts across the country have the stuff to become Eagle Scouts. To earn the status, a scout must meet a series of goals over a period of years, starting in adolescence, which demonstrates physical strength, intellectual capabilities and leadership skills. The effort to become an Eagle Scout culminates when a boy in a teenager and is required to plan and execute a community service project.
Once you’re an Eagle Scout, you get to keep the title forever. ‘It’s like being a marine. Once a marine, always a marine,” Justin Rodstrom, field director of the Boy Scouts of America in New York City, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday.
Famous Eagle Scouts include movie director Steven Spielberg, former mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Xaverian, a Catholic high school for boys located at 7100 Shore Road in Bay Ridge, has a strong Boy Scout tradition, according to Rodstrom.
But seven Eagle Scouts? “It is quite rare to have that many Eagle Scouts at one school,” Rodstrom told the Eagle. “It’s rare, but we’re not that surprised, given that it’s Xaverian High School we’re talking about. They’re big practitioners of the same values we have in scouting. They understand the importance of service."
Here’s how the Xaverian Seven earned their Eagle Scout medals: Theodore Veroutis, a member of Boy Scout Troop 531 in Brooklyn, organized a canned food drive to benefit a Catholic Charities’ food pantry at Saint Mark Church in Sheepshead Bay.
Vincent Mangano, of Troop 4 in Staten Island, made a new trail in Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve for horse and pedestrian use.
Nicholas Gangemi, of Troop 77 in Staten Island, organized a cleanup of Blazing Star Cemetery. He managed the removal of garbage, debris, old signposts and other litter and planted flowers at the abandoned cemetery.
Peter DiSalvo, of Troop 13 in Brooklyn, restored a Greenbelt Trail on Staten Island. He and a team of volunteers remarked the trail and constructed three twenty-foot bridges over creeks.
Dimitri Leonardos, who belongs to Troop 715 in Bay Ridge, updated the Ceramics Center at the Guild of Exceptional Children, a non-profit agency that serves the developmentally disabled.
George Raiola, of Troop 99 in Brooklyn, worked with a local police precinct to organize an “Operation Safe Child” program at Saint Athanasius Catholic School. Police took photos, fingerprints and other basic personal information from students to create ID cards to make the process of finding a lost child more streamlined and effective.
Teacher John Hendricks of Troop 332 in East Rockaway worked with the Volunteer Fire Department in Lynbrook to create a "Use, Don't Abuse" video that showed all the hard work volunteers in the Fire Department put into a medical call. It was broadcast on the Lynbrook Public Access Channel. He also made pamphlets, which he handed out door to door and at Lynbrook functions.
“The community service project is the culmination of the effort to become an Eagle Scout,” Rodstrom said. “You have to develop a project, get funding for it, round up volunteers to help, and then execute the project.”
The reward makes it worthwhile, Rodstrom said. Eagle Scouts not only receive a patch, they are given a medal with an Eagle emblem. And the boy’s parents receive pins.
As if seven isn’t enough, there are more Eagle Scouts on the way at Xaverian. At least two students are currently working toward the title in their scout troops.