Eagle Scout leads building of track at Bethel Elementary

Some people are all about getting the credit for the good they do. But one group of young men routinely does amazing things without receiving the recognition they deserve.

I'm referring to Eagle Scouts and their community service projects.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the success of a new running club at Bethel Elementary School. Students were coming out in droves to exercise, learn healthy habits and run laps around the school's track.

Just recently I learned the school wouldn't even have a track for students to use were it not for the efforts of Eagle Scout Johnathan Kitts.

Principal was enthusiastic

When it came time for Johnathan to begin his Eagle Scout service project, he considered that his hometown of Midland didn't have a place for residents to walk or run for exercise. He figured a track would be a great benefit for the town.

After talking with Kristi Williford, principal of Bethel Elementary, and seeing her enthusiastic reaction, he realized a track would enhance the school's facilities as well.

So Johnathan set to work.

He had to raise money to rent equipment. He solicited donations of materials, and he rounded up lots of volunteers to help.

Johnathan makes it sound relatively simple to build a quarter-mile track - just dig down four inches and then fill it in. When pressed, he admits it was a little tricky to line everything up "just so."

Track open to public

He said he did put a lot of thought into the track's design. He was taking a sports-medicine class at the time and knew an asphalt track is stressful on a body.

He wanted a low-impact track, so he used screenings - which he describes as like gravel but very fine - to cover the track.

The entire project was completed in less than a month with more than 360 hours of volunteer labor from fellow Scouts, community members and Johnathan's family.

The result is a donated track worth thousands of dollars, which can now be used by Bethel students and other Midland residents.

Motivated by helping

Johnathan said community service projects are what he likes best about Scouting. He joined Boy Scouts in elementary school, influenced by his friends. He liked it so much that he stayed, even when friends dropped out.

Now he's an assistant junior Scoutmaster with Troop 623 at Bethel United Methodist Church in Midland. Since he's completed his Eagle rank, he's working on earning Palms (additional honors that go with the Eagle rank).

Now a rising senior at Central Cabarrus High School, Johnathan figures he'll stay in Scouting, transitioning to a leadership role when he turns 18. He's planning to attend college to study physical therapy and said he'll probably find a troop nearby and see how he can help.

Helping people seems to be what motivates Johnathan Kitts. He said he drives by Bethel Elementary School just about every day and always sees someone out there walking or running on the track he built. That makes him happy, and it's all the credit he wants.