ANAHEIM — Boy Scouts of America Troop 578, chartered by Orange County Buddhist Church (OCBC) in Anaheim, is proud to announce five scouts who recently attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
On May 21, Michael Lee, Benjamin Mendoza, Kenji Swun, Matthew Lee, and Tyler Chia were recognized at an Eagle Court of Honor. The ceremony included an inspirational speech by Assistant Scoutmaster Edwin Wakabayashi.
Only 4 percent of scouts obtain the rank of Eagle. To be considered for the rank, the highest award a Boy Scout may earn, a candidate must be active in his troop, hold a leadership position, earn at least 21 merit badges (including 13 Eagle required badges), complete a leadership service project benefiting his local community, and receive letters of recommendation.
The rank of Eagle represents many years of dedicated effort, and the successful completion of a long process that started when the young man became a Boy Scout. It is a demonstration of how people, working together, can truly help mold a young man with a solid sense of leadership, citizenship, and responsibility.
Michael Lee, son of Peter and Linda Lee, is a junior at Los Alamitos High School. He plays for the Los Al Lacrosse team, was a captain for the JV team and is currently a varsity athlete. He is also an active participant in many school organizations like California Scholarship Federation and First Robotics Team 6220, along with various clubs.
Michael began scouting as a Tiger Scout with Pack 578 and later crossed over to Troop 578 in 2016. Throughout his scouting career, he has held many positions, on the patrol and troop level, including: outdoor ethics guide, patrol quartermaster, patrol leader, troop quartermaster, patrol instructor, and assistant senior patrol leader.
Michael has attended almost every event that the troop has offered. Some of his favorite events are the Shotgun Shooting camp, Summer Camps, and Beach Camp. One of his fondest experiences during scouts was during the 2017 White Water Rafting camp when the troop forgot to bring cooking supplies, and they had to find a new way to cook their dinner.
For his Eagle Project, he made COVID Care Packages for seniors in the city of Long Beach. His beneficiary was Gladys Kaiser with the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation, and Marine-Senior/Older Adults Program. He selected this project because his great uncle (Tom), a resident at the Nikkei Senior Gardens Home in Arleta, had mentioned feeling isolated and a lack of activities for him due to social distancing and outdoor restrictions. Michael wanted to provide the Long Beach seniors with activities to keep them entertained while staying socially safe. Within his care packages, he included reusable masks sewn by scouts and volunteers, hand-written letters of positivity and encouragement from scouts, a reading book, crossword/sudoku/activity books, pens, hand sanitizer, and a disposable mask, all contained in a T578 tote bag.
Going into the future, Michael hopes to pursue a career in mechanical engineering and computer science. Additionally, he will be attending the 2022 AIM Summer Program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, after which he hopes to attend one of the five service academies.
Benjamin Mendoza, son of Sandra and Jesse Mendoza, recently graduated from Cerritos High School and is attending UC Irvine in the fall. While attending Cerritos High, he was involved in many student organizations such as Associated Student Body, where he served as ASB president, Model United Nations, cross country, and track.
Benjamin began scouting as a Tiger Cub in Pack 578. He finished Cub Scouts in 2014 and then crossed over to Troop 578. While in Troop 578, he held a plethora of leadership positions, including troop historian, troop scribe, patrol leader, patrol instructor, and assistant senior patrol leader.
He has many fond memories with Troop 578, one being his time spent at Rock Creek, which is Troop 578’s annual camp-out in Mammoth with a fishing derby. He has attended this camp many times and thoroughly enjoyed his time there.
Benjamin began his Eagle Project in September 2021. His aunt, Ines Mendoza, is a kindergarten teacher at Compton Avenue Elementary. During the summer, he visited her kindergarten classroom. It is a Title 1 school and he noticed that the classroom was lacking important supplies and materials such as books and furniture. Because of this, he decided to construct a bookshelf and also hold a book drive to donate to the classroom. With support from his Eagle Project advisor, Mike Nishida, Benjamin was able to successfully construct the bookshelf and donate it to the classroom.
As for the book drive, Benjamin was in contact with the school’s principal, who curated a list of books that they would like to receive. These books discussed topics such as diversity and inclusion. The principal and Benjamin felt it important to collect donations of books that would reflect the diversity of the school. The book drive was a success with over 100 books collected.
Benjamin officially earned the rank of Eagle on April 12. He is deeply thankful for the support from Troop 578, Orange County Buddhist Church, and all the friends and family who supported him along the way.
Kenji Swun, son of Si and Sallie Swun, is a rising senior at Los Alamitos High School. He is a varsity runner in both cross country and track and will be completing his fourth year in both sports this year. He has taken numerous advanced placement courses and has been involved in CSF, Spanish Honor Society, and volunteer clubs. He has been co-president of the Helping Hands Volunteer Club the past two years.
Kenji started scouting in the first grade as a Tiger Scout in Pack 578 and crossed over into Troop 578 in 2016 with his Arrow of Light, Metta Award, and Super Achiever Award after fifth grade. He has held multiple positions, including patrol historian, scribe, quartermaster, assistant patrol leader, patrol leader, instructor, Trail to First Class instructor, and troop guide. Kenji’s favorite summer camp has been Camp Cherry Valley at Catalina island, as well as the annual shotgun shooting event.
For his Eagle Project, Kenji planned and carried out the creation of four raised garden planters and a large movable trellis for Orange County Buddhist Church in Anaheim. He chose OCBC as his beneficiary as he has been a lifelong member participating in Dharma School, taiko, youth groups, sports, and scouts. His inspiration came from his grandfather and Eagle advisor, Paul Fujimoto, who is an active member and helps maintain the landscape at the temple. Through the guidance of his grandfather and his “Uncle” Earl, Assistant Scoutmaster Earl King, the elderly members of OCBC now have a place where they can grow vegetables and flowers.
Kenji obtained the rank of Eagle scout on April 26. He would like to thank Troop 578, OCBC, and the families who have supported and guided him throughout his scouting career. When Kenji graduates in 2023, he plans to pursue a career in economics and finance.
Matthew Lee, son of Peter and Linda Lee, is a rising senior at Los Alamitos High School. He is the electrical lead for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6220 and a member of CSF. He has taken several AP classes and maintained strong grades during his time in high school. In addition, he has participated in several other activities, such as OCBC SEYO Basketball and Jr. YBA.
Matthew joined Pack 578 as a Tiger Scout before eventually crossing over in 2016 to join Troop 578. He has held a variety of leadership positions, such as historian, outdoor ethics guide, patrol leader of the Kuma patrol, and most recently, Trail to First Class coordinator.
Matthew has gone on many outings during his time in Troop 578. Some of his favorites included Summer Camp at Camp Cherry Valley and Beach Camp at San Clemente State Beach. One of his favorite memories was during the New Boy Hike, where he hiked to the peak of Mt. Wilson as an inexperienced hiker. The accomplishment taught him that he can do anything if he has the determination to do so.
For Matthew’s Eagle Project, he built storage cubbies and a shelving unit for his former 2nd grade teacher, Ruth Freedman-Finch, at Weaver Elementary School. With the help and guidance of his Eagle ASM advisor, Sutai Wu, Matthew was able to build two new cubby units and a multi-tier storage unit for storing books and other supplies. He is looking forward to his senior visit to Weaver Elementary in 2023 to see the new furniture pieces in action.
Going into the future, Matthew plans to pursue a career in electrical or computer engineering. He plans to attend an accredited university with a major in electrical engineering.
Tyler Chia, son of Jenn and Tom Chia, recently graduated from El Dorado High School in Placentia. While attending El Dorado, he was involved in volleyball, basketball, National Honor Society, CSF, OC Outreach, and other various clubs.
Tyler began his scouting career with Troop 578 in 2017. He was a part of the Scorpion patrol and has served as assistant senior patrol leader, patrol leader, troop scribe, troop outdoor ethics guide and a troop instructor. His favorite events include the annual ocean fishing trip, Rock Creek campout, backpacking trips, and shotgun shooting.
For his Eagle Scout Project, Tyler built four basketball racks for Chibiko Basketball with the help of ASM Mauldin, ASM Wu, and beneficiary representative, Calvin Togashi. Chibiko Basketball is a youth basketball clinic held at Orange County Buddhist Church for boys and girls in elementary school. The basketball racks replaced old trash cans that had been used to store the balls. They will help make the clinic more organized and give the players a better experience. They are also built with non-marking rubber casters to protect the new OCBC gym floor and made collapsible to store in tight spaces. Each of the racks was painted with the color of the teams — red, yellow, green, and blue.
Tyler would like to thank everyone who has supported him in his time with Troop 578, from all of the scoutmasters, to the ASMs, scouts, and everyone in between. In the fall he will be attending UCLA, where he will be studying physical sciences with hopes of pursuing a career in statistics.