By Carmen Rodgers
With friends, family and fellow Boy Scouts of America looking on, John Burgess was honored as an Eagle Scout Feb. 18 at First United Methodist Church in Tallassee.
To become an Eagle Scout, Burgess completed a project to give the playground at FUMC a new look with improved safety features. He and other members of Tallassee’s Boy Scout Troop 59 repaired fencing around the playground, replaced and repaired some of the equipment and added landscaping.
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts program. Burgess earned 28 merit badges during his climb to Eagle Scout and one bronze medal.
“John Burgess is unique in the recent history of Troop 59,” said Tallassee’s Michael Bird, a BSA member. “He progressed through the entire scouting program with the same troop without ever ceasing his activity or membership.”
Bird said Burgess has always been precocious.
“John has always seemed older than his real age and credits his parents for giving him the opportunity to learn about the world on his own while allowing the maximum level of support for his every endeavor or interest,” Bird said. “He is a natural leader among his peers.”
Bird also spoke of Burgess’ charisma.
“John loves music and excelled in his band instrument as well as his voice,” Bird said. “John has the confidence that any one of us in this (room) wishes we had. His demeanor, which I could even call swagger, draws people to him like magnet. I witnessed it many times. Most recently was this semester when attended the show choir competitions. The audience applauds politely for other soloists or cool choreography. John, all he has to do is look like approaching a microphone without even singing a note, the audience explodes with applause while cheering and whistling loudly. They haven’t even heard him yet but his confidence comes across so clearly.”
Burgess praised his parents, Dave and Liz Burgess, for their guidance.
“My mom was always there to push me and guide me in a direction that I needed to go,” Burgess said, “and my dad was there to guide me. They really were enthusiastic about Scouts, and made me stay with it no matter what was going on in my life.”
After receiving the Eagle Scout pin, Burgess awarded his parents, Liz and Dave, with the BSA Parent Pin. Burgess also awarded Scoutmaster James Davis with the Mentor Badge.
For his project, Burgess chose FUMC, which he has attended since birth, because it has been home to Troop 59 for 50 years.
Burgess spent many hours raising funds for his Eagle Scout project. Many purchased doughnuts as he and members of Troop 59 stood roadside on Saturday mornings.
“I decided to restore the playground at First United Methodist Church in Tallassee because it has been the home charter for Troop 59 for over 50 years now and as a thank you from my troop, I wanted to do the project,” Burgess said. “It is also my home church. So as a thank you from my troop it’s also a thank you for everyone that has been part of my church family. They have always been there for me to help me as I grow up.”
According to BSA rules, an Eagle Scout project must benefit an organization other than its own and cannot be performed for an individual or a business or be commercial in nature.
Burgess, now a Tallassee High School senior, became a Tiger Scout in 2006 when he was in third grade at Tallassee Elementary. He has participated in Mt. Vernon Idol, is a member of THS’ Gold Edition Show Choir, attended All-State Show Choir, plays tenor sax for the Pride of Tallassee Marching Band and participated in the recent Wind Symphony at Mt. Vernon Theater.