Five area Boy Scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout on Saturday, June 15 in Herndon.
Matthew Downs, Colin Gates, Matthew Gold, Peter Gugel, and David Winchell, all 18 and of Herndon Troop 159, were awarded the Boy Scouts' highest honor.
"Less than five percent of scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout," said Scoutmaster Rob Carter. "To have five receive it on the same day is rare. We have never had more than two."
To earn the award, each of the boys had to complete a number of requirements that culminated in an Eagle Project, a service project in the community.
Downs replaced landscaping timbers and built a shed at a pre-school in Centreville. "The project has definitely benefited my life," he said. "It has made me a better person."
Gates, currently a student at Northern Virginia Community College studying criminal justice, did work in Runnymede Park. He removed invasive plants, helping to restore growth of natural species. He credited his grandfather with being a big influence on his becoming an Eagle Scout.
Peter Gugel cleared briars to help natural growth in Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park.
"I view being an Eagle Scout as a promise that I make to myself," said Gugel, who is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He plans to study molecular biology at the University of Maine in the fall.
FOR HIS PROJECT, Gold built sets of speakers for Oakton High School. A 2002 Oakton graduate, he plans to study engineering at Lehigh University.
Winchell, an Oakton graduate on his way to George Mason University, landscaped the entrance to Rachel Carson Middle School, where his brothers attend.
"My project got me involved in my community," Winchell said. "I look forward to helping younger scouts become all they can be."
Many friends, family, and fellow scouts were present at the Eagle Award ceremony at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church.
"Scouting is a family affair, and it is rare if a scout achieves Eagle without a lot of support," said Carter.
Some older Eagle Scouts from Troop 159 participated in the honor guard and remembered how the five youths first got involved in scouting.
"They will soon see that (being an Eagle Scout) takes on more meaning following this ceremony," said Tim Miller, who received his Eagle Scout in October 1997. "After this, it becomes how you live your life."
Carter said that he hopes that the 139 scouts of Troop 159 will use these five Eagle Scouts as well as older Eagle Scouts as an example for their scouting.