Although he left Lord Baltimore Elementary school nearly 10 years ago, Indian River High School senior Grant Gano wanted to give back to his earliest alma mater.
For his Eagle Scout project through Ocean View Boy Scout Troop 281, Gano rehabilitated part of the presentation area of the school’s Environmental Learning Center.
“I went here for elementary school — this was my school growing up, and this area was never used,” said Gano. “I got the idea from that. I felt the need for the deck here.”
Gano reached out to LB Principal Pam Webb and asked her if she would like the area updated and what the school’s needs would be.
“He not only had to come up with the idea and work with adults, but he had to go before our Buildings & Grounds Committee and present his idea from start to finish, and he also had to present at our Board meeting,” said Webb. “He did a stellar job.”
For his project, Gano replaced the muddy dirt and mulched area around the benches in the outdoor classroom with decking and added a handicap-accessible ramp.
“When I was a teacher here years ago, this was utilized by many of the students. But when I returned as an admin, it had fallen apart. It was untouched and unloved for many years. So when Grant reached out and said he was interested in honoring his alma mater by doing a project, this was an area he mentioned,” said Webb.
“We came out and talked about how to make this more of an outdoor classroom again. You can see from the additions and improvements that kids can actually come out here and use it. It has been used frequently this fall and throughout as weather permitted.”
“It took two 12-hour days just for construction,” said Gano. “We did have a day where we did power-washing, a day for raking and a day for fill-dirt. Before that, we also had around 40 hours of planning and preparation — going to the school board and the Grounds Committee and getting approval.”
The time spent on the project itself was more than 77 hours total, spanning about two years — from concept and design to paperwork and construction.
“It’s great,” said LB Assistant Principal Matt Keller, who is also one of Grant’s assistant scout masters. “You see them through the project, using what the school has taught them — writing, communication skills, all those things from core areas, they get to use in a very practical way.”
The project was funded by Contractors for a Cause and also received support from McCarthy Stone, said Gano, noting the project cost approximately $2,100 to complete.
Webb said that now the area is safer for the school’s 654 students, has less flooding and is more accessible.
“We have a gardening club that comes in and works with second-graders who have utilized this space. It’s been a welcome addition, because it’s more useful being out here than being stuck inside the classroom.
“We’re so thankful that Grant spearheaded this initiative so that our kids can utilize it again, because it has been one of those little treasures that has been unused for many years. With our budget cuts with the State, we may not have the opportunity to do Ingram Pond, so this will be a way for us to still meet those science standards. Hopefully, we can do more on-campus.”
A lot of time and work also goes into being able to simply try to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
“You have to go through Scouter, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. There are seven ranks, and each rank takes at least a year,” he explained. “You have to do a scout master conference, where they go over the requirements of the rank.
“There’s a board of review where you have four or five people talking to you about your rank and make sure you’re ready to move up to the next rank. That happens for each rank, and then there’s an Eagle Scout board of review.”
Gano has been in Boy Scouts for seven years and is the first one in his family to receive the rank of Eagle.
“When my dad was growing up, his dad was a scout master. My dad made it to Life, which is the rank before Eagle, so I had this ambition to beat him,” he said.
“His grandfathers on both sides were scout masters, and neither obtained Eagle. So he’s the first one in our family to make this,” said Gano’s father, Rob. “I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished here and also very happy that he could do something for the school that he graduated from. I’ve seen Grant grow a lot during this process.”
“It was a good project and a worthwhile project that I think the community is going to enjoy for many years.”
Gano, 18, who will graduate from Indian River High School on May 31, plans to study civil Engineering at the University of Delaware
Boy Scouts is a fun extracurricular activity, said Gano, one that teaches life skills but also gives young men the opportunity for adventure — including a 15-mile canoe trip, zip-lining, snowboarding, skiing and a lot of camping.
“It’s really worth it. It’s hard work achieving Eagle Scout, but in the long run it will help you with your life — the skills you learn and also the friends you get to acquire.
“When I first got into Boy Scouts, I was really shy. I went in by myself. I skipped Cub Scouts. I didn’t really have many friends and didn’t really talk to many people. It gave me a sociability and friends that I have today.
“Throughout the entire process, from each merit badge I’ve earned, I’ve learned new skills in outdoors, and also in life, that’s helped me.”
Gano thanked his family for their support throughout the process, as well as his his troop and mentors — and one in particular, Trip Jorss.
“He helped me through the whole thing — with construction, because he’s a contractor also.”
“Everything was great. It was a hard project to think about and design. It took many meetings here just so he could realize what had to be done, what should be done. A lot of communications, a lot of phone calls,” added Jorss.
“I suggested, but Grant followed through with everything. It was a really good project. It was a lot of fun, and I was glad to be involved in it.”
Webb said she hopes Gano’s project will encourage others in the community to give back to the school as well.
“It warms your heart, because your validating that the teachers here made a difference in the lives of a student, for them to put that blood, sweat and tears into such a lengthy project. It wasn’t just a little thing. To me, this was a huge project, a huge undertaking, and he had a lot of community support,” she said.
“We appreciate him taking LB on as his Eagle Scout project. The whole Boy Scout organization was a pleasure to work with. It was just a wonderful experience.
“I think, with Grant’s initiative, it has piqued an interest again. So we would love to have any community support or interest, because there’s a lot of work left to do.”
Keller said the project was a great example of what can happen if a school positively impacts a student.
“It was an interesting way for someone who’s in Scouts and an alumnus of the school to be able to give something back. That’s one of the big things about the Eagle Scout projects: be of service to your community.
“One of the things Mr. Steele always talks about,” he said of IRHS Superintendent Mark Steele, “is bringing the schools and the community back together. This is a small example of that, but it’s also I think shows how powerful that can be.
“We have a member of the community who’s also an alumnus, and bringing that together has given all of the children here a new learning space. It’s great to see the impact the boys have had on their community. It’s easy to pay attention to maybe pay attention to people who aren’t always making the best decisions. I think it’s important to notice when we have students, young members of our community, who are making the right decisions, to hold them up.”
Gano said he’s pleased with what he was able to accomplish through his Eagle Scout project and hopes the space will be useful to future generations.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It’s great giving back to the community and also my school that helped me through first through fifth grade,” said Gano. “We did our best to make sure it’s durable and lasts. I hope they maintain it and it will be here for a long time so that a couple of generations of kids can come and use this.”