An Eagle Has Landed


Nick McGough

Justin receiving his Eagle Scout Neckerchief from Scout Master and Eagle Scout Scott Melancon.

Nick McGough

Senior and Boy Scout Justin Neal was promoted from Life Scout to Eagle Scout at Harvest Baptist Church on Saturday, November 14. This outstanding student, both academically and athletically, has become the first Lewis Mills student of the class of 2016 to achieve this honor. According to the Boy Scouts of America, Justin has been added to the six percent of all Boy Scouts who have achieved the highest rank that the organization has to offer.

“I feel relieved” Neal explains. “I have been going through the task of getting my Eagle Scout for a long time.”

Neal completed his Eagle project last March when he put the last of 377 concrete blocks in place. His project included installing stairs for a walkway outside of the Harvest Baptist Church in New Hartford. His project created a path going from the parking lot to the front door of the church to increase the accessibility. With the addition of the stairs people are now easily able to enter the church from the back parking lot where there has never been a path going directly to the entrance. The project started in Nov. 29 of last year took Justin over 177 hours of planning and building as well as $1,446 in building supplies and equipment, before finishing it on March 15.

After accomplishing this arduous task as well as waiting eight months for his pending Eagle Scout application, he was finally given the rank of Eagle Scout.

In addition to his Eagle Scout rank he was also given a certificate of recognition by The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Also he received a letter from the Connecticut Rivers Council. Plus a letter from the National Council signed by the  president of the council Dr. Robert M. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense. In addition to the countless other letters from friends and family who attended the ceremony.

Recognition was also given to his parents, Christine and Tim Neal for helping guide Neal from a Tiger Scout in Cub Scouts all the way to Eagle Scout Rank in Boy Scouts. A journey that began back in first grade, 11 years ago at Harwinton Consolidated. Neal joined one of the dens at Pack 36 as a Tiger Cub which was  led by his mom as Den Leader with the help of Assistant Den Leader Gwen Nowacki.

Neal honored his parents by pinning Eagle Parent medals on their clothing and gave each of them hugs on stage to show his appreciation.

Neal also gave out a Eagle Mentor pin to his Youth Pastor Aaron Waddell, saying that he has “very good character and is a great person to be around.” Neal hopes to become a youth minister like him in the future.

Those who attended, including Boy Scouts from Troop 55, Neal’s parents and family, as well as numerous friends from church and school; congratulated Justin for making it to Eagle Scout during the after party held in the basement of the Harvest Baptist Church.

Logan Worley, a friend of Neal’s says,  “Justin is the perfect representation of an Eagle Scout, he is the friendliest person I know as well as one of the smartest.”

Thomas Walker, a senior and Life Scout at Troop 23 believes Neal goes “above and beyond. He is active not only in his scout community, but in the communities of Harwinton and Burlington, as well as Lewis S. Mills and the crew team.”

Even though his scouting career is over, Justin still plans on continuing his role of assistant scoutmaster in Harwinton at Troop 55. He wants to continue helping and teaching others about scouting because the positive impact that scouting had on him.

He explained how it “taught me to have a good character, and to work hard at things.”

Justin cutting cake for others at his ceremony since he cannot eat it due to his Celiac disease.
Nick McGough
Justin cutting cake for others at his ceremony since he cannot eat it due to his Celiac disease.

He continued by saying that it has allowed him “to be more outgoing and engaged with other people”

The teachings of Cub and Boy Scouts has helped presidents as well as other leaders throughout America’s history. The attributes of good character, leadership, and hard work Neal a promising future like so many other Eagle Scouts.

Tony Nowacki, an Eagle Scout from Troop 55 pointed out how “one of the things they really push is leadership skills, which is useful when you are running a team at a office.”

These skills that he obtained from Boy Scouts have allowed him to secure a team manager position at Cigna last year without previous experience or degree in the insurance field.

Others in the Class of 2016 who plan on achieving this prestigious status at Lewis S. Mills include senior Thomas Walker, Chris Soliani, Phillip Weingart, and Ryan Howard who are in the process of completing their Eagle Scout projects before their 18th birthday, the last day to become an Eagle Scout.

Congratulations Justin for making it to your Eagle Scout.


“Facts About Scouting.” Facts About Scouting. Boy Scouts of America, 1 May 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <>.