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New Eagle Scout emphasizes importance of seeking help

On Thursday, Dec. 27, Christopher Quiroz received his Eagle Badge from Boy Scouts of America Troop 200. During his Eagle Scout speech, Quiroz encouraged his audience to recognize their need for others.
Christopher Quiroz speaks at his Eagle Court of Honor

Christopher Quiroz speaks at his Eagle Court of Honor /Anne Marie Sink

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Christopher Quiroz visits with veteran after his Eagle Scout Service Project

Christopher Quiroz visits with veteran after his Eagle Scout Service Project /Mary Quiroz

Christopher Quiroz with Troop 200 Scouts and adult leaders at reception

Christopher Quiroz with Troop 200 Scouts and adult leaders at reception /Mary Quiroz

The Scout Law says that, among other characteristics, a Scout is helpful. But speaking Thursday at his Eagle Court of Honor, Christopher Quiroz stressed that we all need help- and we shouldn't be afraid to ask for it.

Standing in front of the U.S. flag that draped the coffin of his World War II veteran grandfather, Christopher Quiroz emphasized throughout his Eagle Scout speech the need to seek assistance. Thursday's Eagle Court of Honor, during which Boy Scouts of America Troop 200 awarded Quiroz his Eagle badge, took place at the Cascade Township branch of Kent District Library. Troop 200 is sponsored by Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish, of which Quiroz and his family are active members.

During his speech, Quiroz, an 18-year-old senior at Catholic Central High School, presented himself as a humorous and self-effacing young man with a propensity for having close brushes with deadlines. But both the larger ceremony and the comments of those who know Quiroz portrayed him as a Scout with deep respect for his elders and someone who enjoys giving help as much as receiving it.

Quiroz told the court's audience that his Scouting journey has been filled with ups and downs. He said that his early days in Boy Scouts were fun and carefree, but he called his first two years of high school his "dark ages of Scouting." During that time, he said, he struggled to balance school work and Scouts; his rank advancement stagnated and he frequently missed troop meetings.

Quiroz said his lackluster participation changed late his sophomore year when, recognizing Troop 200's need for a new Senior Patrol Leader, he applied for the position despite his borderline qualifications. Scoutmaster Pat Schemmel accepted his application, and in May 2011 he began what Quiroz called his "return phase" of Scouting.

"Being Senior Patrol Leader was an incredible journey," Quiroz said. And he admitted that he learned a few lessons the hard way.

One memorable campout proved a turning point in his development, Quiroz said. As noontime approached, he realized that, due to his inattention to his responsibilities, the Scouts of Troop 200 had brought no lunch. As he frantically assembled an impromptu meal of fortuitously discovered hot dogs, Quiroz witnessed the antithesis to his own poor planning as the troop's adult leaders prepared their own lunch of bacon-wrapped steak, a meal they ate using gold-plated silverware.

After that experience, Quiroz said, he realized he had to plan campouts better.

Quiroz credited Schemmel for providing needed mentoring and accountability to improve his performance as Senior Patrol Leader. He awarded her an Eagle Scout Mentor Pin after his speech.

He also thanked his parents, Dr. Ernie and Mary Quiroz, for their "helpful nagging" as he pursued the rank of Eagle, and he presented each parent with an Eagle Scout Parent Pin. 

One enterprise for which such encouragement proved beneficial was Christopher Quiroz's Eagle Scout Service Project, which he completed late last summer. With his 18th birthday--the Eagle Scout deadline--fast approaching on August 15, Quiroz needed to complete his project both well and soon. Inspired by his love for the World War II era and its military heroes- both of his grandfathers fought in the war- Quiroz chose an unorthodox project: a World War II era variety show performed for the residents of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

The August 8 show, which Quiroz organized and led, consisted of a swing jazz concert, performed by a seven-piece student brass ensemble; and a rendition of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" comedy routine, performed by two fellow Scouts.

Quiroz said the highlight of the show was when a veteran with a cane (pictured top right) stood up and danced while the band played Glenn Miller's "In the Mood."

Smiling, Quiroz said that after his project, he completed all his paperwork for Eagle Scout two days before his 18th birthday.

 Reflecting on the many people who aided his project and his path to Eagle, Quiroz encouraged his audience to have the humility to seek assistance, something he needed to do in the face of what he called his "self-brought-on adversity."

"We need help; we need each other," he said. "Don't be afraid to ask for help." Often "pride gets in the way," but "you'll never be able to [accomplish goals] as well as you would if you had help."

At the reception after the court, various people commented on Quiroz's accomplishments and character.

Scout leader Mike Haley, who oversaw Quiroz's earning of various required merit badges, noted Quiroz's determination to reach his goal of Scouting's highest rank.

"Once he made up his mind that he was going to reach Eagle Scout, nothing would stand in his way," Haley said. "He worked very diligently. He wasn't afraid to ask for help."

Schemmel expressed being sincerely moved by Quiroz's choice to award her the Eagle Scout Mentor Pin.

"That is an honor," Schemmel said. "It's the first Mentor Pin I've received. That makes it special. But because it's from Christopher makes it all the more special."

James Nachtegall, Troop 200's current Senior Patrol Leader and a performer in the aforementioned variety show, spoke of the value of Quiroz's Eagle Scout Service Project to an audience of veterans who don't normally receive sufficient visitors.

"It was a great experience," said Nachtegall, who performed in the "Who's on First" routine. "It was great that Chris came out and said, 'We care about you, we appreciate what you've done and we want to show you in this way.'"

Caitlin Weighner, a homeschooled high school freshman who played in the variety show's band, echoed Nachtegall's sentiments.

"You could really see how much it meant to [the veterans]," she said. "We really didn't do a lot, but they loved it. It was a good example of how easy it is to serve others and bring them joy."

At his reception, Quiroz, who plans to begin studying engineering in college this fall, reflected on his newly achieved Eagle status.

"It's incredible," said Quiroz, who now serves Troop 200 as an adult volunteer. "It's a change, but it's not."

"The Eagle doesn't change you," he continued. "It just recognizes who you are. I still feel the same, maybe a smidgen more responsibility."

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