In two months, Sam Rivard raised thousands of dollars and led a team of volunteers to overhaul the press booth at the HMHS stadium. His is the third recent Eagle Scout project to benefit the facility.
By Matt Skoufalos | September 13, 2016
In March, Haddonfield residents passed a $35-million referendum to update a number of infrastructure projects throughout the school district.
Fixing up the press box at the high-school wasn’t among the projects approved in the vote, but thanks to the efforts of 17-year-old senior Sam Rivard, it’s one the district can cross off its list.
In two months, the Eagle Scout candidate planned, fund-raised, and executed a complete rehab of a space that saw year-round use, but which hadn’t been updated in ages.
Since getting approval for the project in June, Rivard spent July finding donors to cover its cost and August rallying the manpower to complete it before the Dawgs’ September 9 football home opener. He did it all with the help of his parents and several friends, all while managing his responsibilities to the football team during workouts and training camp.
The intention of an Eagle Project is for a scout to demonstrate his leadership while performing a community service. Rivard had wanted to leave his mark somewhere on the school, but all the projects he pitched to the district were scheduled to be improved under the budget referendum.
“The school’s always been a really big part of my day-to-day activity,” Rivard said. “It’s where I spend most of my time.”
Fellow members of Rivard’s Troop 65 had completed eagle projects by making improvements to the high-school stadium, including the addition of a row of hedges and bulldog statue at the home end of the football field.
When HMHS Athletic Director Lefteris Banos suggested the press box rehab, it seemed like a good fit.
“It’s something that I’ve been trying to make it better for quite a while now,” Banos said. “It was a lot of work.”
Prior to the project being completed, “we couldn’t protect the people working the event from the elements,” he said. “We really appreciate that.”
The interior of the booth needed to be cleaned as much as anything else. Nesting birds had found a home in the roll-away metal screen housing that covered its window. The walls were in want of a fresh coat of plaster, and the metal counter at which announcers passed the length of games had long lost its luster.
Rivard estimated it would take about $2,000 to repair. With the help of his mother, Karen, he flyered the borough with fundraising letters, and e-mailed football boosters and scouting families for additional support.
The response they received far eclipsed their goal, not counting the replacement windows for the booth, which were donated along with the labor to install them. The remaining funds will be dedicated to the high school athletics booster club.
“There’s so many people out there who you don’t realize were Eagle Scouts or boy scouts or alumni of Troop 65, and who are very generous,” said Karen Rivard. To her, Sam’s pursuit of the Eagle Scout rank is a signifier of his ability to take ownership of a project.
“It’s intense, and he truly learned how to put a proposal together, organize his time, recruit his friends for volunteers, [and learn] labor skills,” she said. “And he’s got his name on a school in the town that he grew up in.”
Sam Rivard described his experience with scouts as a positive one that won’t end for him with the completion of the press box. He plans to volunteer his time to help the next wave of scouts who come through the troop. It’s a generational aspect of the leadership that he feels is expected by the organization.
“Our leader was an Eagle Scout; people helped him,” Sam Rivard said.
“Even when you are an adult and you are no longer in the troop, it’s always a great help to help the younger scouts,” he said.
“Just the fact that everyone stepped up and offered to help, it’s something I’ve been raised around and taught. It’s a really great, community-based organization,” he said.
“There’s only so many Eagle scouts, and the ones who come from Haddonfield really help each other out because we know what it takes to run [a project].”
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