Zachary Newton of Middletown recently attained the highest rank possible in Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout Court of Honor.
A ceremony and reception with Boy Scouts of America Troop 16, friends, family and dignitaries took place June 12 at the Third Congregational Church in Westfield.
"Zak remains calm, thinks about what needs to be done, and has developed some fine leadership and outdoor cooking skills," said his Scoutmaster, Bill Shea.
"The Scouts opened new doors of service for me and helped me to become who I am today," Zak, 18, said following an hour-long ceremony, which included presentations by Mayor Seb Guiliano, Sen. Paul Doyle and State Rep. Matt Lesser.
Zak, who just graduated from Xavier High School, began his participation in Scouting 12 years ago, in 2004, and achieved 30 merit badges, was selected as an Honor Camper, received the Order of the Arrow and participted in a week-long National Youth Leadership training. He also participated in the St. Pius Peer Mentoring Ministry Team and attended an Appalachian Mission program in Kentucky.
For his community service project, which is required to become an Eagle Scout, Zak designed a patio and garden around the Peace Pole at St. Pius Church on Westfield Street. The space includes four benches to create an outdoor mediation and an outdoor space for prayer.
"Sometimes when I was volunteering in the friary, people would come in and ask if they could enter the church to pray. Because the church cannot be open all of the time," Zak explained, "I realized then that an outdoor space was needed for prayer and meditation.
"The Peace Pole had already been installed to honor the victims of 911 and I thought, 'hat a great place for outdoor prayer.'"
His aunt, Jean Newton, says, "Both of his parents, Christine and Richard Newton, have often been complimented by his accomplishments. As Zak's parents, they have seen the results of the things that he has chosen to do on his own when others are not watching.
"They are proud of his persistence to meet the challenges that faced him to complete this endeavor to become an Eagle Scout."
Zak is entering Eastern Connecticut State University in the fall and plans to study computer science.
Troop 16 has been the resident Scout Troop in the Westfield section of Middletown for over 65 years. The mission of Troop 16 as part of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.