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Where Eagles Dare

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:07 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:08 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]
Jacob Renuart, 14, hopes to soar with the Eagles after this Saturday.

Eagles as in "Eagle Scout," the highest distinction awarded by the Boy Scouts of America and its international affiliates.

Jacob will take the final step toward that rank this Saturday, when he leads a group of more than 30 volunteers who will paint the exteriors of the rectory (priest's residence) and education building at St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, where he and his family worship.

A freshman at the prestigious International Baccalaureate High School in Bartow, Jacob not only recruited the teen and adult volunteers, he raised $1,400 in cash from local businesses, he said. The Home Depot donated some materials, and Publix Super Markets Inc. donated food for lunch, no doubt a key incentive for many volunteers, particularly the boys.

Since he'll need to spend only about $600 for other materials, the rest will be donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an international Catholic group that advocates for the poor.

Once he submits the paper work and the national Boy Scouts certifies he's met all the requirements for Eagle Scout, Jacob hopes his scout troop, Troop 535 in Haines City, will hold the Eagle Scout Court of Honors by his 15th birthday on Feb. 3.

The paint job is the "leadership project," in which the Eagle Scout candidate demonstrates his leadership and organizing skills through a community service effort. Jacob also had to earn at least 21 required and optional merit badges - small projects demonstrating the scout's skill in a variety of areas from art to archery to wilderness survival and wood carving - and hold a leadership position in his troop. He is the troop historian, which requires him to take meeting minutes and snap photos of troop events.

One gets the definite impression the Scouts won't offer young Jacob his last opportunity to soar. In addition to attending one of the county's most challenging academic high schools, Jacob was "Jaguar of the Year," an academic honor at Jenkins Middle School, in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades; a member of the Junior National Honors Society; a statewide finalist in MathCounts, a national middle school mathematics competition; and a chess champion, said his proud father, Dan Renuart, a Haines City pediatrician.

"He's always been an achiever. He sets his sites on a goal and meets it," the father said.

Jacob didn't disagree.

"I don't like to sit around and wait for things to happen," he told me.