It’s no secret the past few months have been hard. Hard on the world, hard on the United States, hard on our community and especially hard on those directly impacted by illness, pandemic, the shut down and quarantine. While the world works hard to find a sense of normalcy in response to the impact of recent events, high school seniors tread onwards toward their futures while coping with a profound sense of loss after having traversed a normally exciting and incredibly meaningful Spring semester. Spring Break meant the end of a “normal” school year as students would know it, and senior students wouldn’t see their prom, senior skip day (shh…it’s still a thing!), graduation practice, last day of school or any of the tried and true rites of passage that seniors for generations before them were able to experience. What they did experience, though, was growth. Growth in so many ways. Growth they will one day look back on and be proud of. After all, isn’t growth what senior year and working towards hard-earned goals is all about? For Reedy High School senior and now Eagle Scout, Myles Bennette, that’s exactly what it was about.
Myles began his educational career right here in Frisco at Bledsoe elementary where he
became a Webelos, which is part of Cub Scouts. Myles describes himself as a pretty quiet kid and began to come out of his shell during the time he attended Pioneer Middle School where he met Mr. Anton Bucher, his Advanced Theatre teacher. “He encouraged me to take a speaking role on one of the UIL teams. Having to speak in front of a room full of people gave me more confidence and helped me to become more outgoing. I transferred to Pearson Middle School when it opened, where I participated in numerous activities. I was part of the first boys’ basketball and track teams, received an award for my role in our UIL presentation of Requiem, participated in the fall and spring theatre shows and participated in the science fair,” Myles recalls. Myles went on to attend Reedy High School, where he continued to participate in the theatre department, performing in a few plays and focusing on behind-the-scenes work as a tech. “My new theatre teacher, Mr. Ben Shurr, really made an impression on me by always encouraging me and the rest of the cast to treat each other like family. I enjoyed working with him so much that I was planning to give him a Mentor Pin at my Eagle Scout Court of Honor before it was canceled,” Myles explains.
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the program of the Boy Scouts of America as it requires an unprecedented amount of commitment, dedication and time. To become an Eagle Scout, a scout must complete the requirements for six separate ranks. Each rank has numerous requirements like learning how to cook and give first aid. The last two ranks require the scout participate in Troop leadership for a minimum of six months each. In addition to the six rank requirements, a scout must complete a total of at least 21 merit badges and 13 of them are required for all scouts. To complete a merit badge, a scout works through the requirements designed to educate them on a specific topic, such as family life, and then demonstrate their knowledge to a merit badge counselor. Finally, an Eagle Scout candidate must plan and lead a service project and participate in an Eagle Board of Review no later than 90 days after their eighteenth birthday.
Though he’d been active as a scout since elementary and even had a cousin who was an Eagle Scout, Myles didn’t decide until his Freshman year of high school he wanted to pursue the exemplary rank of Eagle Scout. “I decided I really wanted to have an achievement that was unique within my family. I had just completed my first class rank leaving three ranks to become an Eagle Scout. I have a cousin in Austin who was also in scouts working toward his Eagle Scout rank which encouraged me to continue advancing. Also, my father has always been an active part of the scouts. It was something that my dad and I did together. We started in Webelos and finished with Eagle Scout,” Myles recalls.
For Myles, achieving the Eagle Scout rank was the end of a journey he started as a fifth-grade student at Bledsoe Elementary. “When I started, I had no idea it would take seven years to finish. There were times when I wanted to leave scouting, but my friends and family encouraged me to keep going. They reminded me how big an accomplishment becoming an Eagle Scout is and how few scouts actually achieve it,” Myles says.
While working his way through high school and earning his way towards achieving Eagle Scout rank, he learned numerous life lessons while volunteering his time and dedicating his service to others. Because the Eagle Scout rank is so rare and demanding of willing scouts’ time and dedication, those who ultimately achieve the rank are well-versed in an array of areas that serve them well through life. Myles says, “There are the obvious life skills like learning how to cook, render first aid and personal management. However, I was reminded of some of the more subtle things, as my parents call them, that we do as scouts. For example, the can food drives we did as Cub Scouts to support Frisco Family Services; the times we picked up trash in the neighborhoods that we live in; the other Eagle Scout projects I participated in before doing my own project; and, the amount of work it takes to care for a dog that I learned while volunteering at The Colony Animal Shelter. We learned how to engage with strangers while selling camp cards, and more importantly, how to be pleasant when being told ‘no thank you.’ Although scouts learn to lead, they also learn to serve. Both skills are critically important throughout life.”
Scouts’ final objective in working towards earning the Eagle Scout rank is a service project that benefits the scout’s community. The scout must propose, plan, fund, execute and report on a project of his choosing. They must lead the project and not do the project. Myles’ Eagle Scout Project involved building a pair of stages to use at Myers Park & Event Center in McKinney, where the need was for a total of four stages, 12 feet by eight feet. Since he estimated each stage would take four to six hours to complete, he broke them into two projects of two stages each. Myles’ funded half of his budget and his parents funded the other half under the condition he would fund any shortfall. Because of the discounts, he came in slightly under budget and donated the proceeds to The Colony Animal Shelter.
Myles was set to receive his Eagle Scout rank in a ceremony this Spring, but it was ultimately canceled, like many other milestones in which he was supposed to partake this semester due to the ongoing quarantine and shutdown. While the disappointment of canceled events was overwhelming at times, Myles credits his scouts background and Eagle Scout rank with preparing him to be ready for the unknown. After Spring Break, Frisco ISD students’ curriculums were moved online and students completed the rest of their school year virtually through eLearning, which proved challenging for many. He explains, “As a scout, we focus on being prepared. It’s the Scout slogan. Of course, I never expected anything like this to happen, but the emphasis on preparedness and independence helped me adapt quickly to the changing situation. With my father being in the technology industry, I have also had access to a computer and Internet access, so switching to ‘distance learning’ was relatively easy for me. My parents say I am pretty organized and don’t like missing deadlines, which also helps me keep moving toward my goals. However, I did have some initial struggles with the increased amount of free time available. When my parents reminded me college would be very similar, I was able to refocus and keep pushing myself to finish my assignments, which gave me more time on the weekend. I must admit I did use the opportunity to start my school day later than when going to Reedy.”
While the situation was not ideal for any student, Myles says he has his parents and looking toward the future to thank for keeping him motivated to finish his senior year strong despite the circumstances. “My father constantly reminded me of how much work I had put in as a scout to end up being “life for life.” Both parents kept telling me how good it would look to have Eagle Scout on my college applications. I also didn’t like the thought of putting in seven years and not achieving the highest rank I could. In the classroom, I really just wanted to finish as best I could in the new environment,” Myles explains. He continues, “Finishing school this way has shown me I can adapt to change, which will help me throughout my life. My father always said the reason soldiers run long distances with heavy packs is because things don’t always go as planned. If you have done something like adapting quickly to a fast-moving situation, you will always have the knowledge that you can do it again if you need to.”
Though there were disappointments in traversing such a unique senior spring semester while working towards such hefty goals, there were positives, and one of the biggest positives was that Frisco ISD was able to give seniors the graduation ceremonies they so deserved.
Myles’ father Nathan most enjoyed how Myles matured through the years and the spring semester of his senior year. Mr. Bennette recalls, “I watched him progress from a little kid on campouts just looking to have fun to leading a group of new scouts on some of their early campouts. The proudest moment for me was when the father of one of the new scouts thanked Myles for being a positive influence on his son. He said Myles made such an impression on his son at the previous campout that he has started taking his role in the troop more seriously. He believed Myles was responsible for his son wanting to become a leader in the troop.”
Admittedly, no high school senior, let alone one finishing and earning his Eagle Scout rank, ever thought a pandemic would shut down one of the very most important times in their lives, but seniors all over the country and right here in Frisco, Texas have defied the odds and have bright futures ahead of them. Myles’ dedication to himself, his service, his schoolwork and his future kept him laser focused on finishing strong and making every choice count. Change is imminent and Myles – along with his classmates and seniors around the country – have shown embracing it is sometimes all you can do.