Local Boy Scout Troop 316 recently held a pair of Eagle Courts of Honor, recognizing seven of its founding members for earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

“We have had a total of 14 Eagle Scouts since the troop started 3½ years ago,” Troop 316 committee chair Eric Gutmann said. “We have never had seven earn their Eagle at one time like this.”

On May 18, the troop held a Court of Honor for Eagle Scouts James Dees, Tyler Gutmann, Sam Hofmann and Ethan Strickland. A second Court of Honor followed on Saturday, May 19 for Ian Hathcock, Jake Mattison and Neale McMillan.

All seven began their journeys in scouting as Cub Scouts, with five (Dees, Gutmann, Hathcock, Hofmann and Mattison) joining as first-graders to earn the Tiger badge, while McMillan and Strickland started out in third grade, earning the Bear badge.

“This shows the kind of impact we’re making in the community, and how important scouting is to some of our young people today,” Eric Gutmann said. “Our communities need scouting to provide the guidance and leadership skills for the future generations.”

Since moving up from the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts, all seven have served their fellow scouts and their community well. They have gone on numerous camping trips and engaged in a variety of outdoor activities. Some of them have attended the National Youth Leadership Training course, while several were also inducted into scouting’s honor society, The Order of the Arrow. Not only have they been active in a wide range of events, but all seven have also served in leadership roles in Troop 316, working alongside younger scouts and encouraging them to keep working hard and doing their best.

“The younger ones look up to them as role models,” Gutmann said. “They have helped our younger Scouts and guided them through the process.”

In addition to the many honors the seven achieved and the guidance they offered to younger Scouts in the troop, their desire to help their community was possibly most visibly showcased in the various service projects they undertook in order to earn the Eagle rank. Among the requirements for achieving Eagle, scouts have to design and execute a special service project that will benefit a community or organization other than scouting. Dees built a trombone storage area for the Creekview High School band. Tyler Gutmann built picnic tables for Messiah Christian Academy to use at recess and for outdoor studies. Hathcock installed power and lighting at the Church of the Messiah’s outdoor amphitheater. Hofmann remarked the church’s parking lot, including repainting the fire lanes and handicap spaces. Mattison installed concrete steps and handrails at the amphitheater. McMillan stripped, resurfaced and painted the six 10-foot crosses on the Church of the Messiah’s property. Lastly, Strickland designed and erected three 25-foot flag poles at the church near the playing fields and the amphitheater.

Having gained a greater understanding of the importance and value of hard work by attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, all seven have plans to continue striving for a strong and successful future. Dees was accepted to attend Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will continue his education there before going to college. Gutmann will be a sophomore at Sequoyah High School in the fall and has plans to pursue an engineering degree after graduating. Hathcock has finished his education at Sequoyah High School and will be attending Georgia Southern University. Hofmann is preparing for his junior year at The King’s Academy in Woodstock. Mattison will be attending Kennesaw State University at the end of the summer after graduating from Sequoyah High School. McMillan has wrapped up his career at Cherokee Christian School and has been accepted into the mechanical engineering program at Auburn University. A graduate of the Living Science homeschool program, Strickland is currently pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Kennesaw State.

Along with their Courts of Honor, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners presented the scouts with a special proclamation during the board’s May 21 meeting, recognizing them and honoring them for their achievement.

Attaining a rank that only approximately 4% of all scouts earn, these seven have joined an illustrious list that includes former president Gerald Ford, motion picture director Steven Spielberg and astronaut Neil Armstrong, among many others.

“It really makes me feel good to see them achieve this,” Gutmann said. “I have enjoyed learning from them and serving them as mentor with all my fellow leaders all these years.”

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