By John Mitchell
In Boy Scouts, the rank of Eagle Scout is the highest rank you can earn, and achieving this rank is the end goal for nearly every Scout.
I have been a Boy Scout for almost six years, and I am just about to complete my Eagle rank. Aside from advancement and merit badges, the largest part of becoming an Eagle Scout is the Eagle Scout Service Project, which I recently completed.
The project is meant to be a permanent improvement created by the Scout to a non-Scouting affiliated organization, be it a nonprofit, school, park service, etc. For my project, I decided to make improvements to the Bedford High School Performing Arts Department – a department that I am heavily involved with.
Once I decided to do something for the theater department, the next step was to figure out what that something actually was to be.
I talked with Katrina Faulstich, who is the musical director at BHS as well as the choral director at the high school and John Glenn Middle School. After asking her about any problems that could potentially solve, she provided a little list of issues. The biggest of those issues was the lack of mobility for the new spotlights.
BHS purchased two new spotlights last year, and although they work very well, they were hard to move. Not only are the spotlights heavy, but they are also fragile and expensive. She proposed a type of dolly that could safely and easily move the spotlights from the storage room where they are kept to the auditorium to be used.
In addition to these lights, she also mentioned a problem with the footlights at JGMS. There are 10 footlights that need to be moved on and off the stage consistently throughout each performance. The current system of transportation for these footlights was literally pieces of cardboard. They needed something sturdier and safer to move them.
Also at BHS, there are five outlet boxes that protrude from the stage that are used for microphones. There are little pieces of metal that stick out from these outlet boxes. People have a tendency to jump onto the stage, and when they do, their legs can sometimes hit the outlets boxes, which can break the metal pieces. She proposed a type of cover for the outlets that would keep them and the students safe.
With these three ideas, I moved on to the planning phase. With the help of Ms. Faulstich and my parents, I came up with a design for the spotlight dollies.
The dollies are triangular pieces of wood with a raised lip to keep the spotlights in. They are on wheels that are adjustable and can also lock.
For the outlets, we decided on using fabric to create a sort of box-like cover that could be slipped over the outlet boxes while still keeping enough room for the plugs to fit.
The footlights gave us the most trouble by far. After hours of retooling and redesigning, we finally settled on making five planks with raised wall-like features to attach two of the lights. Each of these planks would be two feet long and spaced two feet from one another on the stage to cover the whole space.
With plans official, it was time to get to work.
However, before any work could be done, I needed to secure funding. Funding for the project came from two places. First, I applied for a grant from the Bedford Patrons of Music Students (POMS) – an organization that works to provide opportunities in performing arts and music for Bedford’s youth, by providing things such as funding for school musicals and private music lessons with professional musicians. I applied for a $250 grant to cover approximately half of the estimated cost that was approved and provided.
The second place I applied to was the Bedford Cultural Council that gives grants to applicants for projects they feel will benefit the town’s culture. I applied for a $250 grant, which was approved. In fact, the Cultural Council provided me with $300 that ended up being just enough money to remain right under budget.
Many thanks to POMS and the BCC for providing the necessary funds for my project.
Now that I had plans and money, it was time to actually make the project. A lot of pre-work, mostly cutting wood, was done by my father and me before the scheduled workday in late October. I also recruited volunteers from both my Scout troop and the theater stage crew.
We worked at the high school to assemble the footlight dollies, outlet covers, and the wheels for the spotlight dollies. Now that the bulk of the work was done, all that still needed to be accomplished was minor fixes and touch ups, some repainting, etc. These fixes were all accomplished over the course of the next month.
Once my project was entirely built, I filled out my final paperwork. The project pieces can be seen in the Bedford High School and John Glenn Middle School auditoriums during performances.
Thank you to everybody who helped with my project, including the volunteers, POMS, the BCC, Ms. Faulstich, and my parents.