Ryan Darge and Ryan Bradford always wanted to give back to their elementary school.
So when they were old enough to go for their Eagle Scout badges, they turned to their first "alma mater" on Oak Tree Road.
What did their former school need done? They'd do it.
Boy Scouts Patrick Reilly, Michael Pelchat and Edward DeSaussure also turned to their former elementary school to help it with projects. The result: An improved landscape at Lake Norman Elementary School.
All five teenagers belong to Troop 171 at Williamson's Chapel United Methodist Church at nearby Brawley School and Williamson roads. All attend Lake Norman High School.
All are 17 and juniors or seniors except for Ryan Bradford, a 16-year-old freshman.
Each came up with his project independently, after asking Lake Norman Elementary School principal Boen Nutting for suggestions.
Patrick completed a pergola on the kindergarten playground in August.
Ryan Darge finished a drainage project, some landscaping and two sturdy picnic tables on a side of the school building. Michael is building benches for the baseball field.
Ryan Bradford plans to dig ground for a 1/16-mile oval running track. The project reflects his love of running: He runs track and cross country for his school.
More important, he said, Lake Norman Elementary children will be able to train on the track to help pass the state-required timed mile run. The mulch track will be open to the community as well.
And Edward, the latest Scout to approach Nutting, plans to build and install bike racks out of railroad ties.
"What great kids we have!" Nutting told me when I met with her, both Ryans and several Scout leaders recently. "What a legacy to our school and our community!"
Dad David Bradford, an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 171, said each Scout logs 100 hours or more on his project. That includes planning the project, getting approvals from the local and district levels of Scouting and then working on and completing the project, he said.
Commonly, at least 20 other Scouts and their parents pitch in on a Scout's Eagle project. Each Scout with a project at Lake Norman Elementary is putting in labor for the others.
Ryan Darge hopes the Scouts' work at the school will inspire current students there to give back one day.
"I loved my time here at Lake Norman Elementary, and I always wanted to give back to the people who helped me," he said.