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FHS Senior Gets His Eagle’s Wings in Court Of Honor

Ricky Francese recites the Scout’s Oath during his Eagle Scout Court of Honor June 1.

Boy Scout Troop 113 formally recognized its newest Eagle Scout on June 1 with a ceremony at Somerset Presbyterian Church.

Ricky Francese, a senior at Franklin High School, became the 70th member of Troop 113 to attain the Eagle Scout rank since 1970.

Francese, who will study theater arts at Pace University in New York City come next fall, chose as his Eagle project the renovation of a stage at a regional theater.

“It is a tremendous feeling,” he said before the ceremony, known as the Court of Honor, began. “I’ve worked 12 years toward this goal. There’s no feeling like it. I’ve had a lot of enjoyable memories, but this is something that will last with me for the rest of my life.”

“I look forward to having my sons go through this program also, because there are so many things you can learn being in Boy Scouts, outside of just tying this knot and learning how to start a fire, there’s just skills that you learn that will help you in life,” he said.

Francese’s father, Anthony, was also a Boy Scout, although he did not attain the Eagle rank.

That’s something he still regrets, Anthony Francese said.

“Probably of all the things I’ve done in my life, probably the one thing I regret is not making Eagle,” he said

“The men that stand up in this room as Eagles, you can pick them out of the crowd,” he said. “It says something huge about an individual, starting something so young and being able to stay with it, you’re able to hold it together and say these values are important. He has a lot of other things that he does, and it would have been very easy for him to say, I’m going to pass on this because he didn’t see the value of it. But he did.”

“I’m extremely proud, relieved and excited,” Ricky’s mother, Suzi, said before the ceremony. “He’s worked very very hard for this. There were times when we were like, huh, is it going to happen? And now here we are, so we are very excited.”

“You watch your boy turn into a young man and then take on these leadership responsibilities and become like an older brother to the younger ones, and it makes you very proud,” she said. “We were putting together the photo montage and it was like, you get hit with all these memories. You can see the progression, how they’ve grown, and not just physically, you can just see the strength in their spirit and their confidence.”

The Court of Honor is comprised of many elements, including a candle ceremony recreating the Scout’s progression through the ranks, presentation of a United States’ flag, reading of congratulatory letters from dignitaries and an address by teh new Eagle Scout.

Troop Committee Chair Michele Rojek presented Francese with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on April 14, at the request of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

“May it continue to inspire you throughout your entire life,” Rojek said as she handed Francese the flag.

Also speaking was Francese family friend Ted Mandalakis, himself an Eagle Scout.

“This is an exciting time as you finish high school and head to Pace University in the fall,” he said. “Your challenges will become greater, and you may not always have the same support system as you’ve had in the past. But I know that you will always continue on your mission, with great determination. What you’ve learned from your scouting experience from your first day of scouting to now has laid the foundation for you to be successful in whatever you pursue.”

Another friend of Francese, Cory Rubel, praised the Eagle Scout as a hard worker.

“Beyond being dedicated, talented, hard-working and committed, Ricky is caring and compassionate,” he said. “The love that he exudes into each connection and every individual moment he has is infectious.”

“There is no other person I would rather work with both in a theatrical and a workplace setting,” Rubel said. “He pushes you to be a better person, there is so much that I have learned from him.”

Speaking during the ceremony, Suzi Francese said that her son has “always impressed me with your talent, and passion and drive, and all of these things have guided you up to Eagle Scout. But what impresses me most about you is your compassion and your spirit. You go out of your way to make sure others are OK. That they feel special, that they feel loved. You become the big brother, the protector.”

“Your gift is your heart, the ability to make others feel loved,” she said. “You have a special light around you.”

Anthony Francese gave Ricky a plaque inscribed with a quote about courage that he had been given years before by his brother.

“I hope that when you look at this, you’ll remember that courage got you to where you are, and that your courage and your continued faith will take you anywhere you dare and dream to go,” he said.

“You are part of the elite brotherhood now, and I am beyond proud of you,” he said. “You kept your focus while juggling many responsibilities and you certainly could have let this pass during the middle school years, and you didn’t. You stayed focused and instead you found strength through your fellow scouts.”

Ricky Francese gave the younger Scouts in the church three pieces of advice: ” Take the word can’t out of your vocabulary, never let anyone tell you something is impossible, never forget that you have family here.”

“Sometimes the road less traveled makes all the difference,” he said.

Here are some scenes from the ceremony:

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