EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – A group of longtime Eastchester Boy Scouts have ascended to the top of the scouting hierarchy, earning Eagle Scout rank, the most distinguished in the organization.
Dewan Thenmalai, Nicholas Occhicone, William Brown, Michael Poletti, Christopher Lazzaro and Christian DeKnatel were celebrated at a ceremony on Sunday at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in New Rochelle for their commitment to Scouting, Troop 353 and their community.
According to the Boy Scouts, only 4 percent of scouts earn the Eagle Scout distinction. To achieve the honor, each scout must progress through six previous ranks, earn no less than 21 merit badges and plan, develop and lead a lengthy community service project that benefits their hometown. They also must attend a Scoutmaster conference and be evaluated by an Eagle Scout Board of Review.
Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond praised the Boy Scouts for persevering to the Eagle Scout rank and for the work they’ve done locally for their neighbors.
“I’m in awe of these six young men and what they have accomplished,” he said. “To keep their commitment to the Scouting program, to their families, and to themselves to stay the course and successfully complete the rank of Eagle Scout is a testament to their character.
DeKnatel joined the scouts in May 2010, earning more than two dozen medals in his nearly four years of scouting. For his Leadership Service Project, he led a group of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity as they restored the exterior of “The Haunted House” on High Street in Yonkers.
Lazzaro, who will enter his seventh year as a Boy Scout in May, restored a pathway in Eastchester that required replacing more than 650 feet of fencing, removing dangerous weeds and wild plants.
Poletti, a former Scout of the Year Award winner, has earned 24 merit badges in his six years as a Boy Scout. For his Service Project -- at the behest of Ecklond – he helped renovate sections of the Tuckahoe Community Center, which Troop 353 has called home for years.
Brown, who was a Cub Scout Den Chief, Troop Guide and instructor, ran a used bicycle drive, where he and his volunteers collected, cleaned, repaired and donated nearly 50 bicycles to the non-profit organization, “Good Goes Around.”
Occhicone, whose father, Michael, is the Troop 353 Scoutmaster, led the group of volunteers that helped renovate the little league baseball field at the Immaculate Conception Church so the Tuckahoe Little League could utilize it.
Thenmalai, who earned a wealth of experience as Quartermaster of Troop 60 and as an assistant Scoutmaster with his current troop, helped to refurbish the trail that stretches between the Scarsdale High School and Public Library.
“These men are not only role models to their fellow scouts, but to all in our community,” Ecklond added. “Their Eagle Scout projects have helped some in our community who were in need, our veterans and our residents who use the Tuckahoe Community Center. I look forward to seeing these fine men as future leaders in our society.”