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O'Connell Renovates GBW Courtyard

As part of his Eagle Scout Project, Brian O’Connell, 16, of Greenbriar, renovated the Greenbriar West Elementary School courtyard on Saturday, Oct. 27. Brian is the son of Todd and Peggy O’Connell, and he is a junior at Chantilly High School.

BRIAN CHOSE Greenbriar West because "it was my old elementary school and I felt like giving something back to it," he said. "I basically walked over there, took a look at what the conditions were, and based on what I could see, decided what would be best for it."

The renovations included removing all of the grass and replacing it with mulch that was donated by the Fairfax County schools. Also Brian replaced all of the tops of the benches and added two new benches and a garden. Some of the main materials Brian used were from a donation that he received from Virginia Harbor Service Inc., which provided 100 percent recyclable plastic.

A total of 40 volunteers assisted in the two-day project; 28 came out on Saturday and 12 came out on Sunday. Brian said the atmosphere was "pretty good, everyone was ready to do their work and happy to work."

BESIDES WORKING on his Eagle Scout project, Brian’s other duties include being a leader in the scout troop, a demand that has caused him to be a more active participant in the Order of the Arrow, which is the honor society for Boy Scouts. This group does a lot of community service projects.

Brian has received 21 badges, including many recreational badges, community leader, shotgun, and rifle badge. He also has a safety and first citizenship badge and the national badge. For the national badge, he had to write a letter to Sen. John Warner and state in the letter something that he wanted to get done or something the Senate was doing a good job on. In the letter, Brian explained his desire to have the Soviet Union and the United States eliminate half of their nuclear missiles.

Brian’s favorite badge is the hiking badge because Brian and his Boy Scout troop members had to go on a 30-mile hike carrying essentials on their backs, which was a big challenge. During the hike they really got the chance to just enjoy the calmness of nature. Brian had the opportunity to go on a trip to Alaska which included a lot of the same things that the hiking badge also required. When he went to Alaska with Troop 1548, he and his troop members got the great opportunity to camp out on one of the rivers while being there. He was also given the opportunity to be on glacier water which was very cold. Brian still has a few more badges to earn before he receives the coveted eagle honor.

BRIAN’S FATHER Todd, said: "We are very proud of him and I want to help him achieve his Eagle rank, and beyond that, stay involved with scouting even after becoming an Eagle because it is a good program for young men".

John Hanyok of Boys Scout Troop 1548 has been a scoutmaster for eight years. He is an Eagle Scout and spent 10 years as a Boy Scout, and approximately 25 years in scouting altogether. He was also in the Marine Corps which develops young men. He passes on his ideas and things he learned as a boy scout to the troops by giving them activities and a "sense of adventure in working together to develop leadership."

Brian’s project "will benefit his elementary school that he attended by providing a nice pleasant environment within the school grounds for the students and teachers to have a place sit and enjoy nature outside the school," said Hanyok.

Hanyok also explained that the Boy Scout activities include monthly camp outs, summer camps, and high adventure activities to places like Alaska and sea sailing. He feels like each one of those outdoor activities give the boys an opportunity to explore the skills from scouting that they’ve learned and a sense of working together as an organization.