By Judy Tacyn
Dominick Duncan and Aaron Nguyen first met at Oak Hill Elementary School in Severna Park and were both first-graders when they joined the school’s Boy Scout troop. Now freshmen at Northeast and Severna Park high schools, respectively, the longtime friends stood together to receive their Eagle Scout pins at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Severna Park in February as the newest members of Boy Scout Troop 857 to earn the coveted Eagle Rank.
Scoutmaster Schelly Taylor announced the call to order before more than 100 friends, family members and fellow scouts gathered to honor the teens.
When Duncan came to the podium, he shared a story of seeing an elderly man at his church — Magothy United Methodist on Mountain Road in Pasadena — who had difficulty walking the campus grounds. For his Eagle project, Duncan chose to build and install two sitting benches along a pathway to the church’s chapel.
“I thought it would be helpful for people who couldn’t walk as easily as I can to have a place to sit, relax, and just kind of enjoy the outdoors,” Duncan said. “With the help of my troop, we were able to build the benches in one day and carry them to their installation spot the next day.”
The Rev. Martin T. Brooks, pastor of Magothy United Methodist Church, praised Duncan for the creation of the benches, but added that Duncan provides leadership in other areas of his church.
“Dominick is already a leader in our community,” Brooks said. “He assists in Sunday school, he’s active in youth group, he’s spoken before the worship congregation on occasion, and he’s just a blessing to be around. Members of our church greatly respect him and his ministry despite the fact that he is just 14 years old and growing into manhood.”
Sitting in the front row, Dominick’s great-grandparents dabbed tear-filled eyes. “I am the first person in my family to achieve this honor,” Duncan said, “so it’s pretty special.”
For Renee Burton, Dominick’s great-grandmother, the recognition followed years of supporting Dominick’s scouting goals. “I am just so proud of him,” Burton said. “He’s overcome so much.”
For his Eagle project, Nguyen chose to build and install a wheelchair-accessible outdoor table for the Cisco Center, which specializes in working with students diagnosed with autism, developmental disabilities, speech or language disorders, and learning disabilities in Severna Park.
Cisco Nochera, executive director and founder of the Cisco Center Foundation, met Nguyen as a 3-year-old. “He was always a very sweet and caring child who always looked out for others,” Nochera said. “This characteristic has continued to this day. He reached out to me on his own and offered to give back in the form of a wheelchair-accessible picnic table. The table is wonderful and will be put to good use throughout the year, especially in the warmer months.”