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New Canaan Scouts Soar

This week's Whiz Kids achieve Eagle Scout rank.

Who: members, Alex Brannan, and and member .

School: New Canaan High School

Grade: Hoffman and Soohoo are seniors, Vernon is a junior and Brannan is a sophomore.

Achievement: These four are the latest New Canaan boys to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Each aspiring Eagle Scout must complete a service project, which must be approved and then presented to the troop counsel. 

Soohoo, who was honored along with his fellow Troop 70 members at a Court of Honor ceremony Thursday, June 9, worked with the Alzheimer's Association of Fairfield for his project.

"There's a walkathon in Norwalk for the Alzheimer's Association every October, so I worked on promoting the walkathon, as well as just informing people about the Association and the disease," he said.

"I also had something that my Dad and I came up with, I got a petition signed to have forget-me-nots planted in the White House Rose Garden," Soohoo added.

He explained that the forget-me-not is the official flower of the Alzheimer's Association. From a table in front of the building on Elm Street, he offered information about Alzheimer's and solicited signatures for his petition. Soohoo estimates that he collected 1,000, of the total 2,500 signatures the association has amassed, during his project.

The next step in reaching the White House, he said, is, "to collect as many as we can, and to try to find people in government, for example, to help communicate about the petition to the White House."

Why Alzheimer's, Patch wanted to know? 

"My Grandfather was diagnosed three to four years ago," Soohoo said, adding, "I wanted this project to have a lot of personal meaning as well as helping out the community."

Hoffman sought ideas for his project from fellow Troop 70 families. The Walberts, whose son David just finished his sophomore year at Union College and who was an Eagle Scout as well, recommended the

They told Hoffman that the Powerhouse was in need of someone to do exterior improvements to their building in Waveny Park. 

Hoffman estimates he spent about 120 manhours fixing benches, moving and filling planters, cleaning and mulching the gardens.

When did he begin with Scouting? Like the other Eagle Scouts, he said his involvement began as a Cub Scout, for him in third grade.

Outdoor experiences are at the core of his love of Scouting and the bonds formed with fellow Scouts.

Brannan, a sophomore, is the youngest of the group. 

How did he achieve the highest rank at such an early age? "I worked a lot in the beginning, and went to Boy Scout camp, which helped," he offered.

Brannan also chose to work with an organization with which he has a personal connection for his service project, the .

Echoing Soohoo he said, "I want to see the impact of my project, and I'm very active here."

Brannan spent, he estimates, at least 100 hours reorganizing three closets which house supplies for the Youth Group's members, from fifth through twelfth grade. 

He built shelves for the closets and organized materials for art work as well as supplies for the group's mission trips.

The on Old Stamford Road was the beneficiary of Vernon's project.

As a press release issued by his Troop explained, "he renovated an eroded roadway bridge ... also built and installed birdhouses and a bat house to increase the bird and bat population."

It went on to say, Vernon serves as an Acolyte at in addition to his Scouting activities and is an accomplished rower as well. Competing with the high school team and the , in 2010 he placed ninth in the nation at the US National Youth Championships and will compete at the Championships again this month.

Key to their Awesomeness:

Common threads in the comments of these young men were an understanding of the leadership opportunities scouting offers, and of their interest in continuing to build on what they have learned.

Soohoo, who will attend Northeastern University this fall and possibly study computer science, said he hopes to continue with community service. "Doing the Eagle Project helped me learn to organize people and to get work done. I hope to do something like that again in the future."

Hoffman, who is headed to Brown University where he plans to study engineering, spoke about those leadership opportunities and the chance to pass on to younger scouts the lessons learned, "as you get older, you take on more responsibility. I felt that as I got older, I wanted to take on that role with younger kids."

Brannan, who has two more years of high school, plans to continue with scouting. "I'm going to continue, I think I'd like to be in some sort of leadership position." 

He said he looks forward to moving through the ranks and to the opportunity to work on troop organization. He explained, "There are lots of chances to interact, as you get older, with adults and Scouts ... there are other awards, but that's not as important." 

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