Devon Prep’s “Eagles” Are in Good Company

Nearly 20% of the Main Line private school's Class of 2012 has achieved the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
Eight members of Devon Prep's Class of 2012 earned the Eagle Scout rank.
Eight members of Devon Prep's Class of 2012 earned the Eagle Scout rank.
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Devon Prep
Devon Preparatory School
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Devon - Pennsylvania - US

May 15, 2012 - PRLog -- Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Phillies Outfielder Shane Victorino, and Academy Award Winning Director Stephen Spielberg did it. Former President Gerald Ford, Napoleon Dynamite Star Jon Heder, and NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg also did it. And so did nearly 20% of Devon Prep’s Class of 2012.  

What all of these men did was achieve the highest rank in the Boy Scouting of America program (, the rank of Eagle Scout. Eight Devon Prep seniors are among the 2 million young men who pursued and achieved this distinction in the past 100 years, since its inception in 1912. Each year about 5% of Boy Scouts do the same. It’s a long and often difficult process, but for Ryan Fulmer, Sean Gillin, Daniel Liotta, James Lockard, Matthew Magnotta, Hugh Phelan, Adam Swift, and David Welsh, it was well worth it.

To achieve the Eagle Scout rank, a Scout must be active in his unit for at least six months as a Life Scout, earn a total of 21 merit badges, including 12 that are required, serve in a position of responsibility in his unit for a period of six months, and complete a service project that demonstrates both leadership and a commitment to duty. Additional requirements include demonstrating Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Law in everyday life, taking part in a unit leader conference, and successfully completing a board of review.

According to David Welsh, a resident of Downingtown, becoming an Eagle Scout “is a crazy experience and good for a person in so many ways. At the end of it, you look back and think about how much of an accomplishment it was and how fun it was,” said the member of Troop 105.  “It taught me how to lead and how to sit down and get a mountain of paperwork done. It shows I can set a goal, stick with it, and get it done.”

West Chester Resident and Member of Troop Paoli 1 Matthew Magnotta agreed. “It has helped me learn leadership and planning and made me respect dedication and hard work even more.”

The Eagle Scout Service Project is perhaps the most familiar aspect of earning the Eagle rank. The Project is the opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of any religious institution, any school, or his community. The project may not benefit the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) or its councils, districts, units, camps and so forth. It also cannot be of a commercial nature or be solely a fund-raising project.

Devon Prep’s Eagle Scouts completed varied projects benefitting their school, church and community. Ryan Fulmer of Broomall and member of Troop 430, repaired and repainted two wooden bridges at a community pool; Sean Gillin of Wayne and member of Troop 153,  designed, constructed and installed custom wood and polycarbonate window well covers for the Activities Cottage on Devon Prep’s campus; Villanova Resident Hugh Phelan of Troop Devon 50 renovated and restored the historical Harriton Cemetery;  Adam Swift of Audubon, a member of Troop 313, built an outdoor Stations of the Cross for St. Titus Parish in East Norriton; and Wayne Resident James Lockard, also of Troop Devon 50, built raised flower beds for the Devon Senior Living retirement facility.

Most of Devon Prep’s Eagle Scouts spent at least 6 years in Scouting, some as many as 11 years.  Many followed fathers or brothers into the program. Welsh, Magnotta, and Fulmer have older brothers who were Eagle Scouts.  Phelan followed his grandfather, as well as his older brother, into Troop Devon 50. Some joined the Scouts because their parents encouraged it. Others joined because they liked camping or being outdoors. They all agreed it has been a valuable experience regardless of their reasons for joining.

“Boy Scouts is more than just camping and knot-tying,” explained Phelan. “It empowers young people and creates leaders through hands-on experience. I was the Senior Patrol Leader and was able to make a significant difference in how the troop was run,” he continued. “I believe that the responsibility and goal driven leadership skills I learned in scouting will help me pursue and accomplish my future goals, both in my career and life in general. I am fortunate to have had the chance to learn these lifelong lessons.”

“I learned to survive in the wilderness,” said Fulmer. “But even more importantly, I learned the morals and characteristics that make great leaders.”

Gillin agreed. “The leadership and planning skill that I learned as a scout will help me in college and later,” he said. “It can be a lot of work, but being a Scout was a lot of fun.”

Eagle Scouts are expected to set an example for other Scouts and to become the leaders in life that they have demonstrated themselves to be in Scouting. As such, they are disproportionately represented in the military, service academy graduates, in higher education and academia, major professions, the clergy, business and politics. Eagle Scouts who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

The title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle." Devon Prep’s eight Eagles are proud of their accomplishment, and believe wherever the future may take them being an Eagle will help.

“It’s worth all the work, and is an achievement that lasts a lifetime,” explained Ryan Fulmer, who plans to attend Princeton in the fall. His classmate, James Lockard, who will attend Rice University, feels the same way. “It’s a long process that takes dedication and hard work, but it is worth it in the end,” he said. Matthew Magnotta, who is bound for Northeastern, agreed. “It showed me that I can have the dedication to stay with something and finish it. It has helped prepare me for the tough tasks ahead.”

David Welsh, who will study at Xavier University, summed it up like this. “I see Eagle Scout helping when I am on my own and don’t have my parents to tell me what to do. It helped me learn to manage my time and work, and helped me with self-discipline,” he explained. “They are some of the most important things to have in college and the working world. Scouting has been such a big part of my life that it will not end even though I am now an adult. Eventually I hope to have a son who makes Eagle Scout.”

Devon Prep is a private, Catholic, college preparatory school for young men in grades six through 12 and conducted by the Piarist Fathers. Devon Prep is located on North Valley Forge Road in Devon, Chester County. For more information call 610-688-7337 or visit or
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