Marley Fort, a senior at Hopewell Valley Central High School, has been involved in scouting since first grade, and now he plans to achieve something only four percent of all Boy Scouts accomplish – becoming an Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. And Fort chose The Bridge Academy, a school for students with learning disabilities in Lawrenceville, NJ for the site of his project.
“I knew I wanted to work with The Bridge Academy. I met with Ms. Susan Morris, the director of the school, to see if they had any particular needs that I could help with,” he explained.
Fort has been connected to The Bridge Academy since he was young because his father is a Social Studies teacher at the school. Having attended many of the school’s family activities, his project and the school seemed like a natural fit.
“Over the years, I have had the opportunity to watch Marley grow into a fine young man. When he approached me about a project, I knew he was motivated and sincere in his efforts to support our school,” said Susan Morris, Director of Education for The Bridge Academy.
During their initial meeting, Morris identified the school’s interest in environmental projects and that their compost bin could use some improvement.
“This was a great project for me. Not only am I interested in environmental issues, but it was a great way for me to put my planning and leadership skills to work,” said Fort.
First, Fort got busy researching compost bin designs and efficiency. After drawing up a design, he was able to work with his Scout advisor to fine-tune the design and determine the necessary materials to complete the project. The most critical aspect of an Eagle project is that a Scout demonstrates strong leadership abilities in completing his project. Throughout the construction of his project, which was done off-site over the course of four weeks, Fort directed several Scout volunteers in over 100 hours of service. The completed project was later transported to The Bridge Academy’s campus in Lawrenceville, NJ where some students from The Bridge Academy assisted in leveling and installing the bins and adding a wood chip walkway to it from an existing parking area. The final touches to the project were six azalea bushes planted to create a beautifying buffer around the bins.
Working with The Bridge Academy was a good partnership for this project, Fort said, and becoming an Eagle Scout takes perseverance and hard work – something Bridge students deal with every day in overcoming their educational obstacles. Together, Fort and The Bridge Academy students demonstrated dedication and resolve in achieving their goals. Three students from The Bridge Academy worked on this project with Fort: fellow Boy Scouts Russel Fagan and Dustin Kutcha, as well as Devin Harper. Part of his project was the demonstration of the leadership style known as the E.D.G.E. method (education, demonstration, guidance and enable).
“I was excited to work with the students from The Bridge Academy and use my experience to teach them new leadership skills,” said Fort.
The final result was a nine-foot, three-compartment composting bin that will help the entire school community accomplish their goal of becoming a more environmentally sustainable school.
“The Bridge Academy strives to be environmentally sensitive and although we had composted in the past, Marley’s project not only improved our composting but, rekindled our interest in doing it better as a school community. We are thrilled with the results,” explained Morris.
Marley Fort is a boy scout with Troop 44 in Pennington, NJ. He is a resident of Pennington, NJ and a senior at Hopewell Valley Central High School.
The Bridge Academy is an independent school for students with language-based learning disabilities, like dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and ADHD. It is the only Orton-Gillingham accredited program in New Jersey. For more information about The Bridge Academy, please call 609-844-0770 or visit the school’s website at www.banj.org.