Runnels Eagle Scout Chris Yura.jpg

Eagle Scout candidate and Runnels junior Chris Yura with one of the new gates installed on the Runnels main campus as part of his Eagle Scout community service project.

Chris Yura, a junior at Runnels School in Baton Rouge, took a giant step forward on his journey toward becoming an Eagle Scout this summer. He completed his Eagle service project by planning the design, arranging the construction, and overseeing the installation of two 6-foot-tall cedar gates to close off a service area on the main campus of Runnels School.

To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest attainable in American Boy Scouting, candidates must tick a lot of boxes. They have to earn at least 21 merit badges, serve actively in six different positions of responsibility in their troop in a prescribed amount of time, pass a board of review, and demonstrate leadership and organizational skills by successfully completing a service project to benefit the community. All of the requirements except passing the board of review must be completed before the scout's 18th birthday. It’s a major undertaking. Less than 5% of all Scouts stay the course and fulfill the requirements necessary to ascend to the rank of Eagle.

Because Yura wanted his project to benefit his school, he met with assistant head of school and junior-senior high principal Conchetta Foshee and members of her staff to come up with a plan. After going over proposals, he decided to organize the project to build the two gates.

He worked with contractor Charles Scott of Scott Fencing for the planning and building phases of the project. "I drew mock-ups of the plan and brought pictures of the area where the gates would be," Yura explained. Scott Fencing built the cedar gates and donated them to Runnels. "It cost over $2,000," Yura said.

On Aug. 3, the construction part of the project got underway on the school campus. Yura supervised as eight members of his troop, two friends, and several adults including his parents, grandfather and troop leaders installed and stained the gates.

Yura, who plans to study animation or special effects when he gets to college, will be the first one to tell you the process was not flawless. "The first contractor didn't work out," he explained, "and one gate was a little small, in spite of all the measuring."

He said he learned not to expect everything to work out the first time around. "Even if you do everything right, something will go wrong. You have to keep pushing forward."

Yura, the son of Brooke and Thomas Yura, hopes to have his Eagle Court of Honor ceremony within the next month or two.