By Haydee M. Rodriguez
Guy Taylor is 14 years old and an eighth grader at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Pikesville. He is also the senior patrol leader of Boy Scout Troop 97, which met at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation in Park Heights before the pandemic.
Guy, who joined the Cub Scouts in 2015 and the Boy Scouts in December 2019, recently led a team of volunteers in the construction of an outdoor classroom at Beth Tfiloh as part of his Eagle Scout project.
The outdoor classroom, which took a total of 288 hours, was completed on March 21 and has been in use since March 22.
“In the beginning of the year, I knew that I would have to do an Eagle Project, and I was deciding what I wanted to do. Hearing stories from my dad when he did his Eagle Project, and from other scouts who have recently earned their Eagle rank, I knew that this was an opportunity to do something for my community that would be useful as well as meaningful,” Guy said. “I have been going to Beth Tfiloh School since I was 3, so I wanted to give back and do something that I would be proud of for many years. While I was brainstorming with my dad, my sister thought of the idea to build an outdoor classroom for Beth Tfiloh, and that is what I ended up doing.”
Part of the process included the completion of an Eagle Scout Project Workbook, which, Guy explained, “guides you by putting your thoughts and ideas on paper.” Guy presented the outdoor classroom idea to Zipora Schorr, director of education at Beth Tfiloh, with a PowerPoint that included examples of other outdoor classrooms, along with a sketch of a classroom in the area.
“I explained that this was my project, and that I would be handling absolutely everything,” Guy said. “She eventually agreed, and I moved forward with the project.”
Guy also recruited volunteers, meeting them via Zoom. Mark Kaiser, director of facilities at Beth Tfiloh, who served as the project beneficiary representative, helped Guy after the project was approved. Other volunteers included Michael DeVeau, an assistant scout master, and Wesely DeVeau, an Eagle Scout who, explained Guy, recently “aged out” at 18 years old; as well as Bill and Aaron Zahler.
“Aaron is a friend from school who I have been friends with since lower school,” Guy said. “They work in construction and were able to help us by bringing a trailer to transport the benches from my grandparents’ house to the school, clearing all the grass and drilling all of the holes.”
Guy’s parents and sister also lent a hand. Harold Taylor, his grandfather, flew in from Florida for one day to be with Guy for the project.
The students will benefit, Guy said, because they will be “able to go outside and take off their masks while learning.”
“Even after this year, learning in the same environment for eight hours a day is mentally taxing, and a change of environment is very beneficial in maintaining focus,” Guy said. “With a whiteboard and podium, every type of class will be able to use the classroom.”
Most of the students using the outdoor classroom are in grades 9 through 12.
“It is rare to find someone so young with such a clear vision and sharp focus,” Schorr said. “Guy presented his project to me with respect and with a self-assurance beyond his years. He had ideas, drawings and a plan of action worthy of a professional contractor. But what was most impressive was the fact that Guy wanted his project to benefit others, and he set out to create something substantial that would do just that.
“Amazingly, Guy went from conceptualizing the project to concretizing it, and suddenly, an outdoor classroom appeared on the spot we had picked that will fulfill Guy’s dream while providing benefit and value to our school. This young man has a very promising future ahead, and both he and his parents are products of Beth Tfiloh. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Haydee M. Rodriguez is a freelance writer.