Troop 97 installs six boys as Eagle scouts

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Though Manhasset Tyler Lew did not want to attend his first Cub Scout meeting as a boy, he was eager to start his training after hearing about the various camping trips and skills he’d learn through the program.

On Sunday, nearly a decade later, Lew and five other members of Manhasset’s Troop 97 were installed as Eagle Scouts during a ceremony at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department’s Company 2 station house. 

Johnathan Knox, Astin Kulka, Thomas Moschitta, Jonathan Nikolaidis and John Ziozis joined Lew in taking the Eagle Scout pledge and becoming Troop 97’s first Eagle Scouts since 2011.

“Scouting and scout law have been part of my life for the last nine years and have helped shape the person I am today,” Lew said toward the end of the ceremony, when the boys individually recounted what they appreciate most about scouting. “The scouting spirit will be part of me for the rest of my life.”

Seated atop a dais in the fire house’s community room, the boys were presented with certificates from politicians throughout the Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County and New York State, as well as from American Legion Post 304 of Manhasset, its auxiliary and the Boy Scouts of America’s Theodore Roosevelt Council. 

Early in the ceremony, several scouts of varying ranks described the skills and responsibilities required of them in progression toward Eagle Scout.

The event culminated in the “Parent Pinning” tradition, whereupon the scouts presented their mothers and fathers with lapel pins to represent their appreciation for their caregivers’ involvement in their scouting careers. The parents then placed a pin on their son’s lapel in recognition of their pride in achieving the Eagle Scout ranking.

“[The ceremony] represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication,” said John Walter, scoutmaster of Troop 97 and the installation’s master of ceremonies. “…Each of these young men has made a tremendous contribution to their troop and their community.”

Eagle is the highest scout ranking to which a Boy Scout can aspire. 

According to statistics from the Boy Scouts of America, 56,841 scouts ascended to the Eagle rank in 2013, approximately 7  percent of all Boy Scouts. 

With the boys’ installation on Sunday, Troop 97 has had 75 scouts achieve the Eagle rank in their 52-year history. 

The Village of Plandome Heights’ board of trustees – whose mayor, Ken Riscica, is heavily involved with Manhasset’s Cub Scout Pack 101 – also declared Sunday in honor of the new Eagle scouts.

“In a day where we have so much negativity out there, isn’t it great to have six Eagle scouts from the Manhasset community be recognized for their hard work,” state Sen. Jack Martins [R-Mineola] said. “With all the fun they’ve been having all these years, one day they’ll realize the leadership skills they’ve developed and will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Their installation came one day after Manhasset Boy Scout Troop 71 installed Chris Gentile, James Otruba, AJ Cannatella and Kevin Brady as Eagle Scouts.

Each of the boys were required to complete a service project as part of their Eagle scout training. 

Knox oversaw the painting of 200 parking stripes and curbing on two levels of a parking garage at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, managing a team of 30 volunteers so that hospital staff could focus on work needed inside the hospital. 

He said his installation was “one of the proudest days of my life,” adding that he looks forward to helping younger scouts on their journeys in service.

“All the skills I have learned here were worth it,” Knox said. 

Kulka built an organic garden for the Manhasset-based tutoring center Adventures in Learning. Kulka constructed eight organic garden boxes, built a fence around them and installed a sprinkler system before planting various fruits and vegetables.

He said scouting helped him develop a sense of self-discipline that has grown with each rank to which he has ascended.

“True leadership is more than just achieving what you want,” he said. “Leadership is about giving back to those who have helped you and to the less fortunate.”

Lew held a bottle and can collection fundraiser to raise $704.56 used to renovate sections of the Clark Botanic Garden and replant trees and plants lost during Sandy.

Moschitta raised $1,000 and helped restore the exterior patio of the visitor’s center at the Science Museum of Long Island and then donated unused proceeds to send a child to the museum’s summer camp for one week.

Lew and Moschitta were also among five Manhasset boys to receive the Empire Boys State award on Memorial Day and attend the annual workshop celebrating the American political process next week at SUNY Morrisville State College.

“I pondered, wrote, deleted and rewrote what scouting has mostly impressed upon me,” Moschitta said. “With every camping trip, hike, meeting and outing I’ve ever attended, the one word I’ve associated most with my scouting experience was dedication.”

Nikolaidis restored an abandoned pond at the science museum, rebuilding a birdhouse feeder to its original design and incorporating a birdbath and seating area. 

Ziozis’s project also benefitted the science museum, as he restored the exterior of one of its buildings badly damaged by Sandy by repairing broken shingles, scraping molding, replacing windows and painting the structure.

To complete the project, he coordinated with 20 scouts over two days to clean debris at the site and level the area surrounding the building.

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