For LaFrancises, Eagle Scout Court of Honor is family affair

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Any assistant scoutmaster who saw young men from his Boy Scout troop earn his Eagle Scout medal would be proud, and rightly so.

After all, it’s the organization’s highest honor, and only 2 percent of Boy Scouts ever achieve it.

But on Sunday, it had special meaning for G. Mark LaFrancis, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 168. That’s because it was his son, Mark LaFrancis, who was receiving the honor.

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&uot;It’s an understatement to say I’m proud right now,&uot; the elder LaFrancis said to his son. As he spoke, they stood before a room full of supporters during his Court of Honor ceremony, held in St. Mary Basilica’s St. Theresa Hall.

In attaining his Eagle rank the younger LaFrancis went above the minimum requirements by earning at least 25 merit badges, four more than were needed.

Each Eagle candidate must also complete a community service project, and he was no exception. His Eagle project included landscaping around the main sign at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus.

Achievement is nothing new for the high school sophomore. Starting at age 6, he worked his way up from Tiger Cub to the highest honors of Star Scout and Life Scout and finally, on Sunday, Eagle.

But while Eagle is an end in itself, it’s also the beginning of a daunting task &045; for it means &uot;responsibilities as well as honor,&uot; Scoutmaster Ricky Warren said.

The responsibilities of an Eagle Scout include living a life of honor, loyalty, courage and service, Warren said.

&uot;Live and serve so that those who know you will be inspired to their highest living,&uot; Warren said.

For his part, the scout said he is proud of his parents, whom he said wouldn’t let him quit and encouraged him every step of the way &045; Mark LaFrancis and

Eileen Maher.

For all the significance of the ceremony itself, the younger LaFrancis said he received the biggest rewards during the time he was struggling to attain the award, not during the ceremony.

&uot;I learned to be patient, to expect the unexpected and to figure out different ways of doing things, Š to be creative,&uot; he said.

&uot;He’s learned respect for himself and the world of Scouting. I’ve seen him really mature,&uot; his father said. &uot;The requirements of Eagle force a young man to learn about Š leadership, respecting and being kind to others, and integrity.&uot;