Jacob Smith, an eighth-grade Munford Middle School student who currently holds the rank of Life Scout in Munford Troop 4132, sliced through the ceremonial ribbon, symbolically concluding his Eagle Scout project, which he began planning in May.
“I would like to thank you so much for coordinating the construction of the new preschool playground at (MES),” Principal Rebecca Robinson said. “This has been a need for several years at our school. “We are so proud that he chose our playground as his Eagle Scout project. The preschoolers weren’t able to play on the other playground here because it’s too large for them.”
Jacob’s playground project came to life courtesy of help from nearly a dozen individuals, including his fellow Troop members, prospective Troop members and his parents, Craig Smith and Debby Smith.
Jacob will present his work at his Eagle Scout Board of Review meeting at a date to be determined next week.
“There was a really great need for this playground at the school,” Jacob said. “I really want to become an Eagle Scout.”
Debby Smith said her son sought out science resources teacher Kim Murray to find out what projects were available that needed to be done.
“He knew he wanted it to be something that would impact the community of Munford as a whole and for a long period of time,” she said. “She gave him several options of what needed to be done and what would be a great Eagle Scout project where there was a great need.”
After perusing the list with her son, Smith tried to encourage him to select a project that wouldn’t be quite as much work, but he would not budge, and he contributed approximately 111 hours toward the project.
“He was very adamant in that he wanted to impact this particular group of kids, these special-needs kids, regardless of the amount of work, she said. “I’m very proud that he chose this project. He didn’t take the easy way out — not that any of the projects would have been easy, but there were easier projects. He chose this one because he felt like this would impact the most students over a longer period of time.”
The playground construction, consisting of assembling the playground, covering the surface surrounding the playground with mulch and placing the edging, officially began Nov. 2.
While the labor crew handled the construction of the playground, several organizations provided help in acquiring the materials, including school representatives who purchased the playground equipment, the Talladega County Schools Special Education Department, which purchased the edging, and the Munford Jaycees, who provided a $525 donation to help with project expenses.
Craig Smith said his son will benefit from his journey through the Scouts and the completion of the project.
“I think it’s going to help him once he gets out into the real world because (the Scouts) has taught him a lot about how to communicate with adults as well as the School System and also overseeing other kids,” Smith said. “I think that would translate well over into the business world, supervisory positions and things of that nature. It’s taught him things about life itself, nature and things that are going to help him later in life.
“I (said to) him when the kids came out here because we were all sore from working on this the last few weeks hauling things, ‘It makes it worth it to see these kids’ smiles and laughter.’ Our family has always been involved with the kids in the community, just not on this level with the special needs preschool students. It feels good for us to see it be instilled in him to care about others, especially the smaller ones because they sometimes get (forgotten) by the teenagers as they get older. It really makes you proud to know that he wanted to take care of the smaller ones.”
Debby Smith said she also sees the benefits of her son’s participation in scouts.
“In Scouts, you have a certain time period to achieve each level,” she said. “Since the first-grade, he’s learned about goal-setting, because he’s had to set a goal and manage his time with our supervision to help him achieve those goals. It’s helped him to think toward the future, to set goals and to work hard to meet those goals.
“I work here at (MES), so I know that for years to come I’m going to be able to see those groups of kids that Jacob has talked about playing on this playground every year enjoying this playground,” Smith said. “As Jacob gets older — and it gets emotional for me thinking about him going off to college, getting married and moving away — every year, I’ll get to re-experience this with a whole new group of kids and know that Jacob and his hard work provided this for them.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org