Two Bronx teens reached the highest rank in the Boy Scouts.
On Thursday, December 2, Shane Tierney and Sean Sonnemann became Eagle Scouts in a Court of Honor induction ceremony at the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck. They are the 44th members of Troop 182 to achieve the highest rank in the organization. Only about 2 percent of all scouts ever reach the top level.
“It feels like I’ve really accomplished something,” said Shane Tierney, a 17-year-old who has been with the scouts since he was seven. “I’ve finally got here and actually achieving this feels great.”
For years the two learned to do everything from tying knots and building fires, to world politics and how to manage a group of younger scouts out in the wilderness.
Before earning the distinction of Eagle Scout, Tierney organized a project to create four handicapped-friendly flower boxes at the Jeanne Jugan Residence. The project included going around to various Thorggs Neck businesses and organizations to solicit donations. It also entailed recruiting volunteers and overseeing the work.
“I learned that when you plan everything, it goes a lot smoother. Just always be prepared, and make sure to plan the events, ideas and itinerary,” Tierney said. “The merit badges are challenging. Achieving the rock climbing merit badge wa one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.”
Sonnemann’s Eagle project was to turn several small rooms in St. Benedict’s Church in to one large meeting place. In July he got supplies and donations, and gathered several volunteers to help him tear down walls and doors, re-support the ceiling and re-route the electrical equipment.
“We are very proud of him,” said Henry Sonnemann, Sean’s father. “He did it at a young age and he did it on his own.”
Sonnemann recently turned 15, but when he did his Eagle project he was 14. He joined the scouts about nine years ago.
“These were two friends from the cub scouts and they stayed with it all the way up to Eagle,” said scout leader, Gerard Pilate. “It’s a pretty strong commitment. It’s a big time requirement and there are a lot of other requirements. They have to earn at least 21 merit badges before they are considered for becoming Eagle Scouts.”
Troop 182 began about 80 years ago, and only 44 have risen to the top rank. The last Eagle graduation from the troop was about a year ago, and two more are finalizing becoming Eagle Scouts, Pilate said.
“Most start at 11 years old, and usually they become Eagle Scouts at 18. That’s a long time today for a young man to make it in any organization,” Pilate said.“It’s one of the greatest honors for a scout master to see two young men continue with the program and excell and graduate from it.”
Both Sonnemann and Tierney plan to continue to be active in their troop.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve made a lot of friends, and it taught me a lot, not only in survival skills, but also how to be a leader,” Sonnenmann said. “I’ll definitely keep doing it. Hopefully I can help the younger scouts become Eagle Scouts and pass along the knowledge I have.”