Kearney High School senior repairs the past and builds the future
Kearney, Mo., July 2, 2021: On a humid June evening, as the sun exits into the sandstone horizon, Luke Bailey repairs the past and builds the future, one bolt and nail at a time.
Mr. Bailey is a senior at Kearney High School and a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 360. This spring, he decided to repair and upgrade the outdoor classroom at Kearney Elementary School.
This is no small job. Luke started surveying the site and planning the project in March, collaborating with Principal Mitch Masker to ensure that the upgraded space would be useful for the school. The classroom is rarely used due to its rundown condition. The upgrades will allow teachers to make more use of it starting this fall.
“Luke approached me with his idea for this project and I was excited to make it happen,” Mr. Masker said. “It’s incredible to have one of our former students stepping up to help our current and future students. That’s the Bulldog spirit at its best.”
Giving Back to His Community
Taking a break, Luke leaned up against his maroon Chevy truck in his red troop t-shirt and a small cross on a necklace.
“I started to plan this project probably sometime in March. I don’t know how many hours I’ve put in. I know it’s been a lot,” he said. “This project is all about refurbishing this outdoor classroom for the school and for the benefit of all the kids who come here.”
The project is both a way to give back to the community and also help him earn his Eagle Scout status. Luke attended Kearney Elementary and realized there was an opportunity to make a difference for future generations of Bulldogs.
“I didn’t pay much attention to it when I was a student here, but I opened up my eyes to all these different project ideas, and I thought, ‘what better way to give back to the school,’” he said. “I spent so much time here. I decided to work on this project.”
Since launching the project, Luke has repaired, realigned, reinforced and installed benches. Many of them required new lumber and bolts. He laid down a new roof over the concrete pad. Painting and new mulch are the finishing touches.
Oh, and all this work had to be done by hand. Boy Scouts aren’t allowed to use power tools for projects like this. Luke sees this as an opportunity to gain new skills that he can use for the rest of his life.
“I’ve learned how to install a new roof on any sort of building, whether it be like an actual home or an outdoor classroom such as this. That’s a good skill to learn, how to put a roof down,” he said. “And not just putting it down, but doing it manually instead of using power tools.”
A few others have provided support for the project. Luke expressed gratitude to his uncle, Bryan Bailey, and father figure, Mike Wranich. Kearney-based contractor Tim Cole donated the roofing shingles.
A Passion for Music
Luke somehow managed to fit the outdoor classroom project into an already busy schedule. At KHS, he runs cross country and track and performs with the concert band, marching band, chamber choir and acapella choir.
As he talks about performing and the pride he feels in being part of the KHS choir, it’s easy to see how much Luke loves music. That’s one of the reasons why he’s leaning towards attending Missouri State University after graduation.
“I’m thinking about my options because I’d really like to pursue – not so much a career in music – but to sing with another great acapella choir,” Luke said. “I’ve heard that Missouri State’s choir is very good. I’d like to be part of that program.
Commitment to Scouts
Luke joined the Cub Scouts at age 7 and has earned countless merit badges since then to even put himself in a position to become an Eagle Scout. He loves being part of the organization and plans to stay involved. Being a Scout means learning how to elevate your life and your community, he said.
“Absolutely! I enjoy going on the campouts and I enjoy going to Scout camp in the summer. I definitely plan to stay involved with the troop even after I graduate from high school and I’m going to college,” he said. “It’s a really fun experience and you meet a lot of new people. And you learn a lot of new skills that you might not have learned if you weren’t in Scouts.”