Court of Honor Ceremony Honors Local Eagle Scouts

Lighting the Eagle Trail Ceremony with Charlie Sonzogni during the Eagle Court of Honor for Arnov Bhardwaj, Neil Deshpande and Derek Kaiser

PARSIPPANY — The Scouts BSA Troop 72 Parsippany held an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at All Saints Academy on Sunday, January 2, to honor three scouts who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout: Arnov Bhardwaj, Neil Deshpande, and Derek Kaiser.

Adam Sonzongi delivered the Opening Remarks

The COVID-19 pandemic presented special challenges to the planning and executing of this event. All efforts were put in place to ensure the safety of the scouts, leaders, and families attending the event including sanitizing all surfaces, social distancing seating by family, wearing masks, and the Kaiser Family outside in a tent due to being currently quarantined.

Scott Maciag was the Master of Ceremonies

The pathway to Eagle can be described as a steep trail leading up to three peaks, the highest being that of Eagle Scout. Officially, the trail starts with the Tenderfoot rank and continues through Second and First Class ranks. Then, the mountain climbing begins. The path is marked with merit badges, leadership responsibilities, service projects, and the practice of Scouting skills and ideals. The first peak reached is that of Star Scout, the second is Life Scout, and, finally, Eagle Scout.

The Eagle Scout Award is Scouting’s highest rank and among its most familiar icons. Men who have earned it count it among their most treasured possessions.

Those who missed it by a whisker remember exactly which requirement they didn’t complete. Americans from all walks of life know that being an Eagle Scout is a great honor. The award is more than a badge. It’s a state of being.

Voice of the Eagle Ceremony was performed by Keith Hawkins, Jr.

The Eagle Scout may have received the badge as a boy, but you earn it every day as a man. In the words of the Eagle Scout Promise, they do their best each day to make their training and example, their rank and their influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizenship in the troop, in their community, and in their contacts with other people. And to this, they pledge their sacred honor.

Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than two million young men. Only 5% of the Boy Scouts actually earn this rank.

Arnov Bhardwaj

Arnov Bhardwaj

Arnov began planning his Eagle Project in late 2019 when he reached out to Celebrate the Children, a school for students with special learning needs. He and the school’s representative, Mrs. Cheri Alexander, decided to install fitness stations along a walking path on the school’s campus.

This was to ensure students could participate in physical activity when they were outside, being able to engage in exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and dips. It also contributed to the campus’s aesthetically pleasing array of eagle projects.

Arnov got approval for the project, budgeted, and fundraised online with the help of his parents. He oversaw the assembly of the fitness apparatuses, dug holes in the ground, and anchored the stations with concrete. With the help of many volunteers and school authorities, he was able to complete the project in November 2020 despite the numerous roadblocks created by the unprecedented situation of the COVID pandemic affecting the entire world.

Neil Deshpande

Neil Deshpande

Neil began the process of his Eagle Scout Project in February 2021, reaching out to Cheri Alexander of Celebrate the Children, a non-profit school for children living with autism, and other challenges in relating and communicating. After touring the grounds of the school and being introduced to some of the challenges that students face, Ms. Alexander gave some pointers on where he could help. He opted to build and install two fitness stations: a pull-up station and a balance beam station, to aid in developing motor skills in children, as many attending students lack these. Additionally, he opted to build and install four benches along a small trail, overlooking the lake and surrounding trees, shrubs, and flower bushes. This will be used for many purposes: an area to host small classes when weather is appropriate, given COVID-19 recommendations to gather outdoors; allow a seating area for students to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination by painting the scenery; and an area for students to relax, with appropriate supervision.

Neil initiated, drafted, planned, and fundraised for the project with guidance from advisors from within his unit: Troop 72. While executing the project, he was helped by many friends, scouts, and other volunteers, during which, he exhibited leadership traits and problem-solving skills. He oversaw the construction and installation of all components, completing the project before the school year. Today, hundreds of students use the fitness apparatus and lakeside benches installed by Neil.

Derek Kaiser

Derek Kaiser

Derek led and organized others to renovate an existing fenced-in area on the property of St. Peter the Apostle Church in Parsippany to become a functional community garden.

Unwanted plants and shrubs needed to be removed so that raised garden beds could be constructed out of lumber and installed.

Then the area was filled with planting soil and gravel walkways so that visitors could grow plants while providing proper drainage for the garden.

The goal of the project was to allow parishioners to come together outdoors to join in fellowship despite the dire situation of COVID-19 while also benefiting the Church’s food pantry.

Troop 72 was founded in 1954 and served the boys of the Parsippany Area until March 12, 2019. On March 12, 2019, Rev. Msgr. Herbert K. Tillyer signed the Scouts BSA New Unit Application for a Scouts BSA linked troop, thereby creating two Troop 72’s.  This opens a new chapter in Troop 72 history, where we can now provide the same outstanding program to both boys and girls.

We have scouts from all parts of Parsippany, and beyond.  Going to school at Brooklawn Middle School, Central Middle School, Parsippany High School, Parsippany Hills High School, and other schools outside of the Parsippany public school system.

Troop 72 is sponsored by Saint Peter the Apostle Church and meets in the cafeteria at All Saints Academy. They attend Scout Sunday at Saint Peter’s, and their annual food drive benefits the Saint Peters food pantry.

Troop 72 participates in community service work with multiple churches and civic organizations. They welcome any requests from the community and are always happy to help.

For more information on Scouts BSA Troop 72 Parsippany, click here.

The Kaiser Family
The Bhardwaj Family
The Deshpande Family

Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine – January 2022. Click here to view the complete magazine.