A pair of classrooms at Barnes Elementary have been grateful recipients of two reading benches, designed and built by Owasso High School senior Zach Batterton.
Batterton, an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, built the benches as part of his required community project.
“You’re not assigned to do a certain thing,” Batterton said. “You need to go around and search the community and find something important to you and helps the community.”
Several of the teachers have said they enjoy the benches. For example, Claire McLoughlin and Melissa Riggs were thrilled to be chosen as his project.
“[The students] love it,” McLoughlin said. “We have a place for their books, which are sorted by groups. It’s a great thing to have because they have a place to sit. It’s given us organization too.”
The project can be anything from a construction project to volunteering to hosting a food drive. Batterton drew inspiration from his mother, Cheryl, who is a teacher at Stone Canyon Elementary.
“I have the utmost respect for teachers, and nowadays they are greatly underappreciated. That’s not really right, in my opinion, but I wanted to give back to them in some way,” he said.
The longest process of building the benches was finding the money to build them. Ultimately, Lowe’s donated the materials and Sherwin-Williams donated the paint. To construct the benches, it took only three to four days, working a few hours per day.
“I recruited scouts from my troop and a few of my family and friends,” Batterton said. “We worked in one of my scout master’s workshop to construct it.”
Although Batterton enjoyed watching a pile of lumber and screws transform into a cabinet and bench, installing them in the two classrooms brought him the most joy. The two-part project also included a reading program portion, where he was able to read to students and answer questions about boy scouts.
“It was priceless to see their shining faces light up when I walked in with my uniform on and they were like, ‘Whoa! Who is this cool guy?,’” he laughed.
Batterton said he couldn’t help but feel accomplished when seeing the teachers’ smiles.
The Owasson credits Boy Scouts of America for the young man he has become. The program teaches responsibility, kindness and being a gentleman.
“I don’t want to brag, but they shaped me into a responsible, young man,” he said. “I credit almost all of that to them, and my parents, of course.”
Rock climbing, caving, kayaking and camping are a few of the activities Boy Scouts offer during its monthly field trips. Being a native of Alaska, Batterton is not bothered by the winter camping trips.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s good bonding for parents as well. Dads can go on campouts and mothers can too,” he said.
Serving a senior patrol leader is what Batterton enjoyed most about the program. Being in charge of running the troops, he was able to help the Tenderfoots, who just started the program, to Life Scouts, who were about to become Eagle Scouts.
“Seeing the transition of all the boys and their journey through scouting, becoming more mature, better leaders and learning has been the most rewarding thing about Boy Scouts for me,” Batterton said.
The Eagle Scout was also quick to note camaraderie will be what he misses the most about boy scouts, as he was recently accepted into Oklahoma State University to study mechanical engineering.
In addition, he met his best friend, Jake Ramsey, in scouts, and his younger brother, Jacob, is currently a First Class.
“It’s seldom to find, and it’s a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’re all family. A lot of long-lasting friendships come out of boy scouts.”