6 Boy Scouts From 1 Troop Earn Eagle Rank In Pride-Filled Ceremony
SOUTHOLD, NY — A joyful crowd beaming with pride filled Brecknock Hall in Greenport Saturday morning as six Boy Scouts from Troop 6 in Southold earned the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout at their Court of Honor.
So many beaming parents and friends attended the event that they spilled out of the front door and filled every corner of the graceful space.
Congressman Lee Zeldin, who came to hand out proclamations, noted the crowd and added that he should have brought an extra proclamation for Aileen Mazzei, Scoutmaster of Troop 6, whose hard work and dedication led to the proud Court of Honor.
While having one Scout earn the Eagle Scout rank is cause for celebration, having six reach that honor in one year, from one troop, is an extraordinary achievement, all present agreed.
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA. Only four percent of Boy Scouts reach that pinnacle of their Scouting journey; the process involves not only working to earn merit badges but also conceiving of and executing an Eagle Scout project in the community.
At Saturday's ceremony, Boy Scouts from Troop 6 who earned the Eagle Scout rank included David Cichanowicz, Jr., Joshua Clasing, Stephen Hocker, Jacob Kollen, Nicolas Orientale and Robert VanMater.
Reverend Peter Kelley began with an invocation. "Becoming an Eagle Scout is not so much a destination as a way of life," he said.
Past Scoutmaster John Skabry, who's been involved with Troop 6 for 39 years, spoke to the Scouts, and told them that the foremost responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live a life of honor, something that is "the foundation of all character."
Loyalty, courage, determination, cheerfulness and service are also characteristics woven into an Eagle Scout's life, he said.
Zeldin said the crowd at Brecknock Hall was a testament to the Scouts and their achievements.
"You're now at a whole other level, for the rest of your lives," Zeldin said. "No one can take away that fact. You have all the traits to be the best of the best, and in a whole new chain of command in your new life ahead, those opportunities will create great expectations."
Zeldin also said the Scouts' parents were to be commended for their hard work. Earning the Eagle Scout rank, he said, would be "impossible, without the love and support at home. You raised the best of the best that the North Fork has to offer."
Success, Zeldin added, is measured not by the size of a house or bank account, "but by leaving the world a better place than you found it."
Representatives for New York State Senator Ken LaValle and New York State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo also commended the Scouts.
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski also lauded the Scouts' parents. "As a parent, I know what it takes to raise children and to get them to this level is really impressive. This is really quite an accomplishment."
He also commended the troop and leaders. "A lot of hard work goes into becoming an Eagle Scout, but to have six, it's very impressive. It shows commitment and dedication — because this is something you don't have to do. You're doing it because you want to give back to the community, and the community really appreciates it."
Krupski told the new Eagle Scouts, "You are the leaders of the future."
Southold Town Councilman Bob Ghosio, speaking for Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, said that he took out his old Boy Scout uniform as he was preparing for the day.
The uniform may have changed, he said, "But it warms my heart to know that those values and those experiences we had even 40-plus years ago are the same."
Ghosio added, "I can't tell you how proud we are to have six young men who have achieve Eagle Scout today in our town."
Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley also congratulated the Scouts, as did Paul Herman of the Southold Rotary, Troop 6's charter organization.
Ray Terry of the Southold American Legion told the boys, "As you go forward in life, always remember this day when you became Eagle Scouts."
Southold Town Councilman Jim Dinizio also attended the Court of Honor.
During the ceremony, the Scouts not only earned their Eagle rank, they gave pins to their parents and to the mentors who have guided them along their journey — three of the Eagle Scouts gave their mentor pins to Scoutmaster Mazzei.
Tears in her eyes, Mazzei spoke to the Scouts she's guided since they were young boys.
"It's been a great trip with these guys," she said. "They came in quite a long time ago. I remember when they came in, with their chubby faces, not knowing what to do, with a lot of questions. Not bringing the proper shoes on winter campouts, hiking in 100 degrees. We've been through a lot — thank you for honoring me today. But I was the lucky one, to be a part of your lives. I really love you all."
The parents of the six new Eagles had a message for their boys: "It has been an incredible journey the past 12 years watching them grow into the young men they are today. We couldn't be prouder of all their accomplishments."
The parents also wished to thank the Mazzeis for all their hard work and time.
Others thanked Committee Chair Richard Vandenburgh for his dedication.
It wasn't the first time Troop 6 yielded an impressive number of Eagle Scouts: In 2016, five Scouts earned the rank of Eagle.