One week before his high school graduation, Aaron Watts achieved another long-term goal — the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America — Eagle Scout.
While moving up through the scouting ranks, one must complete a final project to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. Watts chose to remove and replace the walkway leading to the front entrance of his church, Trinity Baptist.
“I realized it was going to be worth doing the week before I started,” Watts said. “An older lady in the church tripped on her way out.”
Watts said his grandmother — Linda Whitney — and several others — including himself — had tripped on the old walkway throughout the years.
“It had a lot of grooves and bumps in it,” he said. “There were lots of cracks and rocks, and right before the door, there was a drop-off so you had to take a step up to walk in.”
Watts said he was surprised by the amount of time it took to complete the project. He originally planned to complete it in a couple of weeks, but because of coordinating school and work schedules, it took a couple of months.
“The hardest part was removing what was already there,” he said. “We had to use a jackhammer, and then remove every single piece, but we had fun doing it because we were throwing stuff around.”
In addition to fellow scouts, Watts enlisted the help of fellow church members. The only day the cement company could come out was a school day, and Watts and his fellow scouts were obligated to their studies. Several church members volunteered to help smooth out the cement for the new walkway.
Once the project was complete, the walkway met the edge of the church’s front entrance, and a hand rail and two handicap parking signs were also added.
“The church members love it,” he said. “Several people have thanked me personally for doing this project. One lady said she can get inside wearing high heels now.”
Watts also mentioned that a church member who is in wheelchair is now able to get inside without having to get out of the chair and lift it over the doorway. He said the supportive hand rail has also gotten a positive response.
“I got a lot of joy out of seeing that it helped people that I know and see every week,” Watts said. “I’m glad there was something I could do to help my community and my church because they’ve really helped me throughout my entire time going there. I’m glad I could give back.”
Watts kept a day-by-day project journal, documenting each step of the process, from planning to completion. The journal also includes information about the hours spent to complete the project, the materials used, funds raised, changes which occurred, goals and ambitions after high school and a photo log of the process.
Watts raised funds for the project through yard sales, a hot dog sale, a bean supper, eBay sales, recycling cans and various donations. One of his goals was to seek out local businesses to help support the project, and he said Ace Hardware, Paradise Home Center and Piedmont Concrete contributed greatly.
Watts is a member of the Union County High School Class of 2012, and his extracurricular activities have included band and JROTC. After graduation, he plans to attend Clemson University and major in engineering.