The newly refurbished courtyard featuring a walking path and new mulch.
Credit: Triston Green, 42Fifty.

When you think of a Boy Scout, you think of a 10-year-old boy building a campfire with his troop and doing many adventurous outdoor activities. Many people associate the Boy Scouts program with a lot of younger age groups. Alex Arand, a senior here at Oswego High School, has defied this stereotype.

The Boy Scouts of America organization began in 1911 and has been in operation ever since. The Eagle Scouts are the highest-ranking level in the Boy Scouts of America. 

Arand has been working toward becoming an Eagle Scout since he became a Boy Scout in kindergarten. As a member of the Boy Scouts, he participated in many different service projects that a typical troop member would. 

After spending so much of his time working on service with others, in his senior year of high school, Arand decided to start his own project, which is one of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout. Using his love for the school and love for nature, the soon-to-be Eagle scout created his plan to reconstruct the scenery of the school’s courtyards near the murals by landscaping it. Arand felt this was necessary, as he did not like the current state of the courtyard. 

“Whenever I passed by that courtyard when I was a freshman and a sophomore, I was really confused,” Arand says. “I had no clue why the place was in the condition it was; I don’t know why it wasn’t maintained.” 

While obviously the courtyard doesn’t get much use, it has a visual effect on Arand’s perspective and outlook on the school.

“I really wanted to do something about it because I really didn’t like how it looked and how that affected the atmosphere of the school,” Arand says. 

Despite Arand having this idea in the back of his mind for quite some time, he wasn’t able to begin right away. Before the project was started, a lot of prep work was needed to get the project on its feet.

“It took a lot of planning. In order to actually get an Eagle Scout project approved, you have a base packet you start with, and you have to do a ton of research,” Arand says. 

Arand had to take his blueprint idea to the head leaders of the Boy Scouts and waited for their approval. These board members reviewed his proposal and critiqued and analyzed it as much as they could. 

“I passed, fortunately,” Arand says. 

Since the project was approved, he was ready to begin work. He started finding a group of people to help him get the courtyard transformed.

I worked with the Horticulture Club as well as Mr. [Bill] Nunamaker to get the project done and organized. I also posted online to get some volunteers together,” Arand says. “Some local businesses around here also provided food and drinks for the volunteers.” 

In order to make this project a possibility, he asked Horticulture teacher, Ms. Meegan McCarthy. 

¨I basically give guidance, tools and provide student workers [to help support Arand],” Ms. McCarthy says.

Since Arand was working on this project with his Eagle Scout, he was also assisted with many members of his group along with another local troop. Freshman Cameron Balder, a member of Arand’s troop, was very thrilled to be a part of this project. 

“I was on board with it,” Balder says. “I thought it was a good project because OHS needed a new garden out there.”  

A mural which reads "Welcome to Our Jungle," featuring a panther walking between two rows of lockers.
The mural near the math and science offices which inspired the name for the unkempt courtyard. Credit: Gavin Ross, 42Fifty.

Overall, the rejuvenation of the school’s courtyard led by Arand was a huge success. Any attempt at making the school look more visually appealing is always a great thing, but Arand went above and beyond in doing this. The courtyard that Arand worked on had a bad reputation of being referred to as “the jungle,” even to the point that a nearby mural brings up this nickname.

Making the courtyard look better took Alex and his team around three days to make this project a success. The gravel has been replaced with mulch and plants have been seeded into the ground. The mural near that courtyard is now inaccurate. It is no longer a jungle—it’s a nirvana. “You can’t see a single weed on the ground now,” Arand says.

Additional reporting by Gavin Ross.

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