The year 2020 is coming to a close, and upperclassmen have begun the monumental task of applying to colleges.

Students look for ways to stand out among their peers, to catch the eye of a college admission agent. BHEA students have worked hard to achieve the topmost honors through their chosen organizations including American Heritage Girls (AHG), Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Girls Scouts of America (GSA).

Seniors Kyla Jernigan and Macy Myers have earned the Stars and Stripes award through AHG. To attain this top honor, participants must design, construct and coordinate volunteer workers to create a sustainable project for the community. Jernigan built a puppet theater and storage shelves for Carpenters Elementary School’s outdoor learning center. Myers made three wooden benches for Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. It was a new experience for both of them to organize these projects.

Both students had to know every aspect of their project so that they could instruct the volunteer workers and put their plans into action. “I had to be well organized and have a detailed plan in place for my volunteers. I had to instruct them on how to use sanders, a saw and drills,” Myers commented. Jernigan noted, “Both the shelves and puppet theater are designed to be strong, weather-resistant and child-resistant.”

As with any leadership project, difficulties had to be overcome. “If someone had a problem while working, I had to be the one to resolve it, which was definitely a new experience,” remarked Myers.

Jernigan had more issues with which to contend. Not only did COVID-19 limitations cause complications, but, due to COVID-19 and other logistics, her project had to be re-planned. “I found a new project, created a new timeline and have been working to finish it ever since,” Jernigan explained. She started her new project in September. In the end, both students learned self-discipline, responsibility and leadership their projects.

Sophomore Noah Shreve earned his BSA Eagle Scout award by constructing a gaga ball pit for Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Shreve describes a gaga ball as, “a game similar to dodgeball that is played in a ‘pit’ where the object is to tag someone ‘out’ by hitting them with a ball below the knees.” He hopes that the addition of this game will benefit the youth of the community.

The pit is a heptagon with wooden sides that are 8 feet long. Although the construction days were streamlined, Shreve’s project was not all smooth sailing. Finding retailers willing to donate the supplies was difficult, especially with COVID-19 restrictions. “I was turned down by more than a dozen retailers over an 11-month period before I found a donor for the materials needed,” said Shreve. Not deterred, Shreve had perseverance and was able to achieve his goals. “I am so thankful for the material and food donors and my fellow Scouts and their dads who came out to make this project possible.”

Senior Abby Cowan recently obtained the Girl Scout Gold Award. Cowan’s project focused on speech therapy and education. She worked to renovate the speech therapy classroom at Carpenter’s Elementary by refinishing furniture and decorating the classroom. She also involved other Girl Scouts by “hosting a supply drive for (other) speech and occupational therapy rooms.” Lastly, Cowan created a patch program for Girl Scouts to earn bringing speech therapy awareness to the troops. Communication, creativity, time management and leadership are some of the skills that Cowan used to earn her award.

Although it is agreed that it feels good to be finished with a major project, it is universally accepted that the documentation is the biggest hurdle. “Another challenge … is the paperwork. I had to remain persistent and patient as I wrote the project description, which ended up being over 20 pages,” said Jernigan. So, for any future applicants, keep in mind that every project comes with its own ream of documents to tackle.

Congratulations to all BHEA students whose hard work and determination enabled them to accomplish the highest honors in their organizations.

Eden Carnes is the school correspondent for Blount Home Education Association.

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