WILLOW SPRINGS – A Willow Springs resident broke ground at the first day of his Eagle Scout project at Pleasantdale Middle School on Monday.
Troop 69 scout Gabe Thalji will create an outdoor classroom for students in the Burr Ridge school's courtyard. Thalji said Monday's work was just the beginning of the project.
While day one was just enough to lay the stone patio, the outdoor classroom will eventually have 20 log stools and four log benches for students to sit on, according to Thalji. He said the log stools and benches should be ready within a couple of weeks.
Thalji, a former student at Pleasantdale Middle School, said he chose the school because he wanted to thank them while doing something with the school's courtyard.
"I want to showcase to everyone at Pleasantdale what Boy Scouts is really about," Thalji said. "It's giving back to the community and [showing] how someone like me, who's not an adult yet, can do something like this."
Thalji, who has two older brothers who are Eagle Scouts, said he decided to go for the title after seeing how it made his brothers become better people.
"[The project] means a lot to me because it's always been something I've wanted to do," Thalji said.
Once the project is complete, Thalji will write a final draft describing the project, have an interview with the Eagle Scout Board, and if he passes the interview, there will be a ceremony rewarding him with the Eagle Scout badge.
Thalji said he hopes the students will not only see how hard work can benefit the community, but also how it impacts their education.
"[The outdoor classroom] will also help the students learn," Thalji said. "Learning in school can be a boring environment, [but] if they're outside then they might be more interested."
Pleasantdale Middle School Principal John Glimco echoed Thalji's hopes, saying he thinks the students will be very excited to see the finished project.
"We have this beautiful area that's not being used as well as we'd like it to," Glimco said. "And getting the students involved will make a big difference."
Another troop is also planning on implementing a butterfly garden in the courtyard as well, according to Glimco.
Glimco, who said he has so much appreciation for the Scouts and Scouting program, added that having the outdoor classroom will also bring a sense of nature and resources into learning for the students.
"Bottom line is it's nice for kids to see how other students get involved in the community," Glimco said. "I hope our younger students are inspired by it."