March 27 ceremony at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica
By Martin L. Jacobs
In March 2022, five Santa Monica teenagers will be recognized with the highest rank one can earn in the Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts of America).
The five Scouts are Spencer Foote, Bryan Han, Jason Jiang, Nicolas Lucente, and Arman Nazarizadeh.
Nazarizadeh is graduating from Santa Monica High School, Han and Lucente are graduating from Palisades Charter High School, Jiang is graduating from Chadwick School, and Foote is graduating from Loyola High School.
All five Scouts will be honored at the Troop 2 Eagle Court of Honor on Sunday, March 27th at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica.
The Eagle rank honors exemplary effort, leadership, and service. Only eight percent of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle. In addition to demonstrating proficiency in first aid, citizenship, camping, swimming, emergency preparedness, and many other skills, Eagle candidates must coordinate and complete a community service project that demonstrates significant leadership abilities. Each of the Scouts being honored led a major project to improve the quality of life of people in the community. All the projects included many hours of work by Troup 2 Scouts, working under the planning and direction of the Eagle candidates.
The 2022 Eagle Scouts completed the following community service projects:
Spencer Foote’s Eagle project created over 100 hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness. They were distributed through the St. Joseph Center in Venice. Scouts worked to plan and package the kits which contained snacks, toiletries and hand sanitizer. Many enthusiastic scouts of all ages helped out with the project and the effort exceeded expectations by providing 20 more kits than planned. The biggest challenge was the logistics of filling small bottles of shampoo and body lotion from bulk containers, as scouts tended to get off track without supervision.
Bryan Han’s Eagle Project was in service of UPNS, the University Parent Nursery School for UCLA. It detailed construction of a bookshelf and planter for the school. Holes were drilled in the bottom of the planter to allow water to drain, and both items were painted with non-toxic paint to ensure they were safe for the children. The most challenging part of the project was drawing the blueprints for the construction.
Jason Jiang’s Eagle Project was for Braddock Drive Elementary School. It involved creating wooden signs to label native Tongva Plants, as the Elementary School, and much of Los Angeles, were originally Tongva tribal lands. In addition to the signs, a trash receptacle was built for the garden to reduce littering and promote recycling. Although there were some technical issues that arose during the project, Jason feels that the challenges helped him learn to adapt quickly and adjust his methods to get the work done.
For his Eagle Project, Nicolas Lucente distributed masks, shields, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to lower-income communities and homeless shelters that had Covid-19 infection rates disproportionately higher than more affluent areas. Lucente feels that the most challenging part of his project was keeping up with the ever-changing protocols and recommendations from city and state agencies. As a result, he had to adapt and change the details of his project constantly through the planning process. He managed twelve volunteers as they sorted N95 respirators, facemasks, shields, gowns, and sanitizer, then organized the equipment into boxes and distributed them.
Arman Nazarizadeh’s Eagle project was to provide support for the Gabrielino Tongva Springs Foundation, a non-profit corporation established to preserve and protect the Kuruvungna Village Springs site located at University High School in Los Angeles. First, his team cleared a selected area of invasive plants. Then, the scouts replaced the invasive species with plants native to California, including black walnut trees. Unfortunately, these special native walnut trees sap large amounts of nutrients from the soil, which can threaten nearby plants. To determine which plants he could use in adjacent areas, Nazarizadeh had to research which plant species would be compatible with this characteristic. He found the hardest part of the project was scheduling plans pickup and picking dates so that the most scouts could participate. He feels it was a great experience, and is very proud of what he and his team accomplished.
Achieving the Eagle rank also means the scouting experience comes to an end for these accomplished young men. The 2022 Eagles were asked what they will remember most about their years in scouting.
Arman Nazarizadeh: “Our troop’s 2019 backpacking expedition through Olympic National Park in Washington is without a doubt my favorite experience while scouting. We journeyed through the park’s temperate climate and saw incredible formations of nature, such as peaks, a glacier, and even bears. One highlight was stopping for breaks to drink fresh glacial water that flowed through the entire expanse. It was an exhausting hike, as we ventured about 30 miles each way, but the beautiful landscape and breathtaking viewpoints made it all worthwhile.”
Nicholas Lucente: “My favorite experience in Troop 2 was backpacking in Olympic National Park in Washington. The trees and plants were all so green and lush. The whole experience felt like being in a fantasy world as we trekked through different parts of the park, each having its own unique and stunning characteristics. We camped in a picturesque valley with massive mountains and a glacier that poured cold water down the river that ran along our trail. The cabin in the center of the valley was remarkable given that it was 13 miles from any road. Our backpacking group got along really well, and on the return trek we camped under the stars. It was a wonderful time.”
Jason Jiang: “My favorite experience with Troop 2 was canoeing around Catalina Island. I was only in the 9th grade at the time, and being told you were going to row in a boat for the next three days is not the first thing you want to hear. It was a grueling experience, my arms were dying near the end, and the seasickness definitely did not help at all. The true beauty of this trip was being able to camp under the stars with friends and just talk and enjoy the camaraderie. Looking back on the experience, I’m proud to say that I accomplished this. This is something that not everyone can say they’ve done, so I’m happy that I had the opportunity to experience it.”
Bryan Han: “My favorite experience with the troop was walking through the Enchanted Valley in Washington. At the time I was in a lot of pain, because the hike to the Enchanted Valley was brutal, but it was completely worth it. When we got to the valley, I saw this amazing scene consisting of snowy mountain ranges with lush green trees and waterfalls. At night, we slept in the open under an amazing night sky lit up by stars. It took my breath away. I have great memories of this trip, and I think I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Spencer Foote: “My best Troop 2 experience was canyoneering in Zion national park. Rappelling and climbing down the canyon walls of the famous “Subway” slot canyon made me feel as if I was discovering it for the first time. Being truly isolated in the canyons and encapsulated by the beauty of the narrow corridors made me feel truly immersed in the environment. Leaving, we managed to navigate our way despite all of our paper maps being soaked with water. We finally made it out after dark. Another favorite part was enjoying my first Dairy Queen ice cream sundae the day after we survived the canyon.”
Troop 2 is one of the oldest and largest Scout troops in the western United States. In its remarkable 75 year history, Troop 2 has awarded Eagle Scout rank to 380 deserving individuals. The storied troop has traveled to Scout camps and high adventure destinations throughout the United States, and all together Troop 2 Scouts have saved more than 67 lives using CPR, water rescue, first aid, and other skills and training.