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Parkes builds bridge for Eagle rank

Matthew Parkes stands on the bridge that he and his crew built on James Clemens High School's campus. The bridge was Parkes' service project to earn the Eagle Scout rank. (CONTRIBUTED)
Matthew Parkes stands on the bridge that he and his crew built on James Clemens High School’s campus. The bridge was Parkes’ service project to earn the Eagle Scout rank. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – To earn his Eagle Scout rank, Matthew Parkes built a bridge on James Clemens High School’s campus that spans a path leading to the band’s practice field.

A junior, he plays alto saxophone during marching season; he also plays baritone tenor saxophone and earned a superior rating at solo and ensemble.

“After seeing my band trudge through the ditch that sometimes is wet and muddy, or going around the ditch to get to the practice field, it influenced me to take this project into my own hands,” Parkes said.

Several boys have approached band director Keith Anderson about building this bridge for an Eagle project. “Matt is the only one that saw it through to completion. This will save the band a great deal of instructional time when transporting equipment and instruments to the band field,” Anderson said.

Parkes wanted the Eagle rank for its “achievement and honor.” His years in Boy Scouts gave taught him discipline, leadership, respect and responsibility.

As project lead, Parkes scheduled workdays and determined tools to make work go more smoothly. “I made sure all supplies, safety equipment, food and water were at the site waiting for volunteers,” he said.

The crew experienced only minor snags, needing more concrete, screws and balusters. “The original schedule was three four-hour days, but it turned into” 21 hours total. “I was extremely lucky and thankful that I had enough volunteers to stay the extra hours,” Parkes said.

Parkes acknowledged help from Joey McBee at Lowe’s, leader Monte Bateman and Boy Scout Troop 351 and James Clemens band, along with parents from both groups.

James Clemens Principal Dr. Brian Clayton said, “We’re very proud of Matthew and his work at James Clemens. It’s awesome that Eagle Scout service projects can benefit such a large group of people.”

Matthew’s parents are retired Air Force Col. John B. Parkes III, now senior program manager at SAIC, and Karla Parkes, a homemaker. Matthew’s sisters are Amanda and Kaitlyn.

The family has lived across the country. Matthew considers his birthplace, Burlington, N.J., as his hometown.

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