Best friends soar to Eagle Scout rank

Joe Fraccaroli and Andrew “Ace” Sakamoto, both graduating seniors at Wilton High School and members of Boy Scout Troop 20, were awarded the rank of Eagle Scout this spring. The boys attribute the achievement to each other, both saying they would not have reached the rank if not for the support and prodding of the other. Members of the football and wrestling teams (with Ace holding leadership positions in both), the pair have had ample opportunity to become close.

“Me and Joe have been through a lot together,” said Ace, “not only sweating it on the mats or putting in work in the weight room, but hanging out every single weekend.”

Ace and Joe are both heavily involved in their community and extracurricular activities alongside their sports and Scout-related obligations. Ace is a member of his Lady of Fatima church group, plays guitar in Acoustic Wilton, and just received the Arthur J. Wall Jr. Scholarship, an honor reserved for a Wilton High School student who has done an impressive amount of community service and “represents the best that Wilton High School has to offer.”

Joe is a member of the Wilton High School jazz band and orchestra.

The boys were tempted to quit Boy Scouts, but according to Joe, they struck a deal to persevere.

“In eighth grade we were both like ‘do you want to quit,’” said Joe, “but we [told ourselves] ‘if we both stick it out together we’ll make Eagle. [We agreed that] if you stick it out, I’ll stick it out.”

The process involved in attaining Eagle Scout status is certainly no easy feat. According to the National Eagle Scout Association’s website, “a Boy Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills” in order to attain the Eagle ranking after progressing through the earlier ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life Scout. Of the 120 merit badges available, a Life Scout must accrue 21 to rise to Eagle rank, including 12 required badges and nine elective ones. Ace chose many badges related to marksmanship, including shooting training, archery, riflery, and shotgun wielding. Joe has attained some of these badges, but also made sure to work towards some more eclectic ones, such as the chess badge.

A prospective Eagle Scout must also devise a manner to help his community without any form of compensation. To fulfill this requirement, Joe repaired two foot bridges at Weir Farm Preserve. With the help of 20 of his fellow Scouts, his family, and his best friend Ace, the daunting project was completed in a mere two days. Ace found his service opportunity at Cranbury Park in neighboring Norwalk, making 100 feet of boardwalk handicap accessible to fulfill ADA requirements.

According to Ace, the boys played crucial roles in the completion of each other’s Eagle projects. “I made sure that I was there for [Joe during the Eagle project process],” said Ace, “whether it was doing the paperwork or the work days.”

Each aspiring Eagle Scout is outfitted with an Eagle mentor, a role that was filled by retired Scoutmaster Erik Olstein in the case of Joe and Ace. Mr. Olstein has known the boys since their initial days in Troop 20, and has been a valuable resource for them throughout their scouting careers and Eagle Scout processes.

“[Joe and Ace] represent the highest ideals of scouting,” said Mr. Olstein. “They’re varsity athletes, serve their community, [and] they’re good students … they don’t ask for what you can do for them, they ask what they can do for you.”

Upon earning the title of Eagle Scout, both boys received letters of commendation from U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, letters from the president, flags flown over Washington, D.C., in their honor, and have been granted membership into the National Eagle Scout Association.

Joe and Ace are two of the 12 Scouts from Troop 20 that have attained the rank of Eagle this year, an impressive number considering only 5% of Boy Scouts reach this level. Scouts who received the honor this year include Callum Breene, Kristian Langholm, Kevon Olstein, Chris Wilson, Emmanuel Sitinas, Eric Spiewak, Jack Dexter and Jamie Semple. PJ and Patrick Collins still await their board of review.

“[Being a part of the Boy Scouts] really shows a young boy how to be a man,” said Joe, “[it shows him] how to lead a group of people. Yes, it looks good on college applications and résumés, but it really teaches you how to be a leader.”