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RIHS Eagle Scout candidate goes above and beyond to beautify Denkmann

If becoming an Eagle Scout is about going above and beyond being a normal scout then Rock Island High School sophomore Jonathan Knuth certainly grasped that with his Eagle Scout project at Denkmann Elementary School.

After being told his plan to spruce up the entrance to Denkmann was more than a large enough project, upon completion of that in June, Knuth stepped it up and went for his original Phase 2 anyway.

With the help of family, and later the Denkmann Student Council and the Corn Crib Nursery, he went ahead and did the fenced-in raised-garden beds for what he's calling Leadership Garden on the school's west side. It will be incorporated into class projects this spring.

It's all done now, too, and the Knuth family is breathing a sigh of relief.

Maybe the person who is most happy, though, is Denkmann principal John Frieden, who thought for a while the entrance needed some improving.

"My gosh, he took some trees and bushes out that should have been taken out a long time ago," Frieden said. "It's valuable; It looks great."

But it meant a lot to Jonathan, too.

"From the way it started, with these big scraggly bushes on the end, and to have it actually turn out with these nice trees and bricking and mulch," he said, "and then how people came out and supported me on my project day, it was very heart-warming with all the scouts there, my family and my friends."

He's also enjoyed equally the reaction from Rocky teachers who saw the project on Facebook and let him know they appreciated it. 

All's that's left now is for Jonathan to earn a few more merit badges and get his paper work done and the prestigious Eagle Scout honor likely will be his.

That award will be based on the work done on Denkmann's entrance on the south side of the school. Jonathan estimates he put in more than 100 hours there. But he seemed just as pleased that the project even materialized.

Just thinking up what to do for an Eagle Scout project is a task. "Just trying to find a project is really hard,"he said. But during a discussion, retiring teacher, Mrs. Trace Timm suggested it. And Jonathan was more than happy to work on a project at a school his mother, Jennifer Knuth, teaches kindergarten, at.

"It's wonderful," said his mom, who sees it every day at school. "It's a great accomplishment. He achieved far beyond what I thought he could with it, learning how to blade pavers, working with a level."

And she liked what he learned building seven raised beds for plants with his father and the Corn Crib Nursery's Alex Kelly. "Just watching him work with the Corn Crib gentleman, he really was very helpful. They had good conversation. Watching him mature that way and take a leadership role, it all plays into it."

But she enjoys the front of the building, too.

"I look at the bushes and the boxwoods and the Japanese Maple trees, I think of all the effort that went into planning his special (project) day, with the Boy Scout Troop 243, being there, with family and a teacher there with her son and Mrs. Timm," she said.

 He also earned a lot about planning a project, the cost and securing donations from places like Lowe's, Menard's, Sam's Club, Home Depot and Meyer Landscaping and the Corn Crib.

"It was stressful," Jonathan said of the first project. "But once you get it all done, you can look back and see how much time and effort you put into it."

For most, that would be enough. But Jonathan wanted to go forth with his original plan, which included building the seven raised boxes for the Leadership Garden to coincide with the Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People that he learned at Eugene Field, where he attended elementary school.

Building the boxes in the Denkmann cafeteria with his dad, Ron, last summer, and then hauling them outside, eventually surrounding them with a fence, even having them in rows that students can easily walk through, was all part of this second project.

The Denkmann Student Council also chipped in with some funding and some actual work, pounding the dirt into the beds.


Denkmann Elementary


It resulted in a lot of hot summer nights for the family and Jonathan himself. But Jonathan wanted to finish the task.

"He originally put both of those (projects) together," said Mrs. Knuth. But the Eagle Scout Board felt that was simply way too much.

The first project also included cutting and hauling sod, among other major things.

The garden had been started a few years back and had not been fully taken care of and was in some disrepair. Part of Jonathan wanted to do it for the retiring Mrs. Timm.

And now, it is ready, too.

"We are celebrating," Mrs. Knuth said. "This is complete."

The west Garden and its symbolism means a lot to Jonathan, too. He still remembers singing the songs that stressed things like persistence, putting first things first instead of always thinking about it, planning and organization - all part of the Covey program.

Another thing he learned was to be "always trying to do something more and more efficient for your community," he said. "And once you get older you can look back on it and say, 'hey, that's what I did.'"



Denkmann landscaping


Denkmann raised beds

Denkmann raised garden beds