The future is in good hands if the newest Eagle Scouts at Saint Viator High School are any indication. They have determination and drive, and not surprisingly they are helping to lead the boys’ cross country team.
Alex Gasey, Finn and P.J. McLeod all are residents of Arlington Heights. Their projects ran the gamut, from a difficult landscaping project at St. James School, to filling welcome baskets for the 18-year-old asylum seekers arriving at Viator House of Hospitality, to providing dental items for Lakota children living on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
At a recent practice, they led a hill run at nearby Thomas Middle School, in preparation for the team’s opening event, the Saint Viator Invitational, which has eight high school teams competing and multiple middle schools.
Alex is a member of Troop 37, sponsored by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, while Finn and P.J. are in Troop 32 at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights. All three are members of St. James Church.
“In cross-country, you really have to push yourself to do your best, and when you hit the wall you have to keep going,” Finn says. “It’s just like earning Eagle.”
His twin brother, P.J., agreed, saying: “In a three-mile race, it’s hard to see the end goal until the last corner. It’s kind of like that with earning Eagle. You see the end and really kick it into gear.”
Becoming an Eagle Scout, the program’s highest rank, is ambitious. Nationally, only 6% of Scouts achieve it, Boy Scout Council members say. To earn the rank, a Scout has to take on leadership roles within the troop and their community; earn a minimum of 21 merit badges that include first aid safety, civics, business and the environment; and complete a large community service project.
“Many principals (between cross-country and earning Eagle) are the same, namely teamwork, bettering yourself and helping others,” says Head Coach Bill Stanczak of Palatine.
Alex is the only four-year runner on the squad and he is team captain. Before each practice, he shouts out the day’s workout, literally leading the team on and off the field.
“Every moment is a leadership moment,” Alex says. “What motivates me at the end of the race is to cheer on my teammates to finish, and just be an example and help others.”