Unlike most Boy Scouts, Ben Flint hopes his Eagle project will never be used. While fellow members of Troop 24 were building trails, ski racks, kiosks and cabinets, the Superior High School freshman was preparing for the worst.
The teen spent months collecting donations to assemble 55 5-gallon buckets full of items students might need during a lockdown at school — alcohol pads, hand sanitizer, duct tape, tarps, garbage bags, toilet paper, cat litter, gloves, first aid kits and more. The buckets were filled and placed in every classroom at Northern Lights Elementary School last week.
“I find it a little sad that we need them, but I think it’s good we’re able to get them in the schools to help the students and teachers with a lockdown,” Flint, 14, said.
Students in the district practice lockdowns as part of safety drills. Flint experienced a string of three “lock hold” incidents within a week at Superior Middle School in eighth grade. One was for a medical incident, another for a knife that was found in the gymnasium.
“Nobody needs something like this until they do,” his father, Nick, said. “Hopefully, they never have a serious need.”
The teen initially planned to build benches for Hartley Nature Center, but SMS teacher Jill Prescott prompted him to take a different path when she told members of the Parent Teacher Student Association that Lowe’s had supplied similar buckets to the Nashwauk-Keewatin School District.
“I like to build, but then I thought this would affect more people,” Flint said. “It could help those kids. It could also inspire others to do the same thing at other schools.”
District Advancement Chairwoman Dena Cyr with the Voyageurs Area Council of Boy Scouts said their board approves about five Eagle Scout projects a month. Flint’s was unique.
“It’s an extremely very well-thought Eagle project,” Cyr said. “We were very impressed; the whole board was. We actually talked about that one for quite a while after he left.”
Flint decided to donate the buckets to Northern Lights, where his brothers Joseph and Jake attend. Principal Danielle Perich appreciated the project.
“We take school safety very seriously and we work hard to make sure our students and staff are prepared for whatever may come our way,” she said.
Flint said the biggest challenge was collecting the $2,600 worth of items. A number of local businesses chipped in.
Family, friends and members of the community helped out during a donation drive outside Walmart. SMS Principal Dave Jensen ran into Flint there.
“I was impressed with Ben's dedication and commitment to his Eagle Scout project,” said Jensen, who was Flint’s second-grade teacher. “Ben has always been a thoughtful and caring person who thinks about others.”
Although they tried to collect items locally, Flint’s mother, Megan, said they had to shop online to secure toilet seat lids for the buckets and first aid kits.
Flint has logged nearly 400 hours on the project, and he still needs to wrap up the paperwork. But the buckets have been placed.
“I love that he wanted to do this,” project coach Leslie Bachelder said. “It’s an awareness for the community of what needs to happen, but it’s also a safety measure for both the teachers and the children. It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”
It fits the Scout motto, be prepared.
“The hope is they never have to use it, but it’s there,” Megan Flint said. “I’m just proud. It’s an amazing project.”