SEARSPORT — The Searsport District High School courtyard has a friendlier appeal to students since student Ian Cottrell, 16, completed renovations as part of his project to earn the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts of America.

The high school junior presented photos of his completed renovations to Regional School Unit 20 directors during their Jan. 10 meeting.

Ian’s renovations breathed new life into the area, which had been in disrepair for some time, he said. It was a place not many students frequented, but since he completed his work in November he has noticed more students using the space and hopes when the weather warms up this spring students and staff will want to spend time there.

In May 2022, he began working on the walkways and sitting areas, adding new benches and picnic tables and upgrading garden areas and turf. Many of his family members, fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 102 of Orland and members of the school’s National Honor Society volunteered their time to help him clear brush and lay new material down, he said.

Local businesses helped with materials, Ian said. Viking Lumber donated lumber and Gagne & Son contributed stone to the project. Other people donated funds or purchased a plaque that could feature their names or the names of a loved one to be placed in the courtyard.

Ian raised about $5,500 for the project, but he said the total project cost was closer to $7,000, including donated materialsp.

Ian chose to revive the courtyard so the school could have a space for students and staff to enjoy long after he has moved on, he said. Board members approved his renovations last spring and were surprised at how unkempt it was. The Eagle Scout is surprised at how good the courtyard looks now.

Ian spent over 1,300 hours on the project and though he found it difficult to approach local businesses for donations, he completed the project, he said. He commemorated his efforts with a plaque of his own, placed in the courtyard, with the Edward Everett Hale quote: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

The plaque Ian Cottrell placed at the Searsport District High School courtyard after he completed renovations to the space in November. Courtesy of Ian Cottrell

The Stockton Springs native said he joined Cub Scouts at age 5 or 6 because he enjoys outdoor activities over being cooped up inside. First joining a troop in Stockton Springs, then transferring to the Orland troop, he completed Cub Scouts and ascended through all the Boy Scout ranks. During that time, he earned 37 merit badges out of 118 possible badges.

Because he earned his Eagle Scout rank, he can now become a scoutmaster or work his way up to becoming a counselor once he reaches legal age, he said.

Though he is still unsure of what direction he wants to take after high school graduation, the robotics team member said he would like to do something involving computers and technology.

Many people translate skills learned in Boy Scouts to a career in the military, but it also looks good on a resume, he said. He urges other kids to attend a meeting to see in what ways the organization can benefit them.