In tribute to first responders

Grafton teen honors those who serve with Eagle Scout project sprucing up memorial garden

GRAFTON HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR Gordy Thompson has completed an Eagle Scout project honoring first responders. He renovated a memorial garden outside his former grade school, St. Joseph Parish School. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

For Grafton High School senior Gordy Thompson, completing his Eagle Scout project was a way to give back to those who serve others.

Thompson returned to his former grade school, St. Joseph Parish School in Grafton, to spruce up its memorial garden with a monument that pays tribute to first responders.

“When I first started the project, it didn’t have anything to do with first responders,” Thompson said. “I knew I wanted to do something to give back to my parish because they’ve done so much for me growing up and have provided me with so many opportunities.”

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the parish hosted Thompson’s Eagle Scout ceremony with members of the Grafton Fire and Police departments in attendance to recognize the 17-year-old, who officially became an Eagle Scout on Oct. 31.

Thompson initially wanted his project to consist of cleaning up the garden, building a retaining wall and donating a plaque that details the history of the parish’s church bell.

“The bell was made in 1855, and it was the bell for the original St. Joe’s Church and it’s moved around to different spots on the church grounds over the years,” Thompson said, noting the bell is now used as a funeral toll.

Back in September when Thompson was preparing to be a reader for a 9/11 memorial Mass, he decided to center his project around a monument for first responders after speaking with the parish’s director of music and liturgy.

“We were talking about first responders and the impact they have, so we thought it would be cool to make a first-responder memorial for the parish,” he said.

The 4-foot-tall monument is made out of granite carved with the insignias of first responders. Thompson’s goal was to raise $2,500 through the help of parishioners and local businesses.

“I wrote to about 60 companies that were listed on the back of the church’s bulletin, and they responded with donations from anywhere from $20 to $300,” he said.

Plants and stones for the retaining wall were donated. The monument would typically cost $1,500 but was sold at a discount to Thompson for $800.By the end of his fundraising campaign, Thompson raised approximately $5,000 and donated the surplus money to the church.

Thompson said being a Scout has been a major influence in his life, instilling a drive to become a leader among his peers. He was captain of the Grafton High School boys’ cross-country team for two years and helped lead the squad to the state meet for the first time since 2003.

After graduation, Thompson will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study genetics. He credits his Project Lead the Way biomedical courses and teacher Fran Grant for motivating him to pursue medicine as a career.

“I’m such a nerd. I often think about the complexities of the human body and how everything is put together nicely,” he said. “Mrs. Grant really shaped my educational goals moving forward.”

Thompson said the lessons he has learned in Scouts will stay with him the rest of his life.

“Going off to college and the medical field, I’m going to need a lot of the skills I learned in Scouts from first aide to being a good communicant to people,” he said. “The leaders make sure that every guy who comes out of Scouts, whether they’re an Eagle or not, is a great, stand-up guy.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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