Teen gives back to school with Eagle Scout project

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 1, 2013

 Mikehl Hafner stands with Our Lady Star of the Sea Principal Julie Aemisegger and Monsignor Gary Smetanka on the night Hafner presented his finished Eagle Scout project.

Mikehl Hafner stands with Our Lady Star of the Sea Principal Julie Aemisegger and Monsignor Gary Smetanka on the night Hafner presented his finished Eagle Scout project.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — When the time came to plan his Eagle Scout project, Mikehl Hafner decided he wanted to do something to give back to a school that made an impact on his life — Our Lady Star of the Sea.

Not many Scouts reach the point where they’re working toward Eagle Scout, but Hafner has put the time and effort into reaching that goal. He is at the stage in the process in which all of his work will be reviewed to make sure he’s met all of the criteria.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Hafner said. “I was, like, 7 and I saw (an Eagle Scout).”

Seeing an Eagle Scout at that age was when he realized that he wanted to reach that level someday, too. 

A big part of the work to earn the rank of Eagle Scout is completing an Eagle Scout project. Hafner decided to create a mobile podium for Our Lady Star of the Sea, since the school didn’t have one.

He knew he wanted to do “something to give back to Star,” he said.

“I like Star. It was a great school,” Hafner said, adding that he didn’t “want to leave.”

“This is kind of like me coming back again and again.”

Hafner said it was a school that provided him opportunities and opened doors.

He remembers being a part of the forensics team at the school and believes that a podium “would have been exceedingly helpful.”

Hafner said there are stationary podium-style items in classrooms for teachers, but not a mobile podium that can be used for assemblies, presentations and more.

His podium was created to be functional with a microphone stand, a pull-out side drawer for a laptop or other device and shelves on the inside. The podium has wheels so it can easily be moved to where it’s needed. It has a power source, as well as a light.

He also made sure to add a decorative touch with an ornate design on the sides. There’s also a plaque in the front.

Hafner, an honor’s student at Grosse Pointe South who is also involved in a number of activities including Pointe Singers, presented the podium to Our Lady Star of the Sea during its back-to-school night last month. His proud parents accompanied him to the event.

When he unveiled the podium, there were a lot of “oohs” from the crowd during the presentation, and someone said “oh wow” when one of the podium’s features was presented.

“I can’t even describe how proud I am,” Hafner’s mother, Carolyn, said. “He’s a great kid. He’s an absolutely perfect son. He really is.”

Hafner’s been a scout since second grade.

His dad, Mikehl, was also excited about his son’s accomplishment.

“He did a great job,” he said. “I feel great about it. It was a long journey. I’m very proud of him.

“He filled a void,” his dad said of the podium project.

Hid dad said a lot of thought went into the design and function of the podium. His son wants to be an architect, so this type of work is right up his alley.

Hafner has already dug into programs that are helping him prepare for his future career, including an architectural design summer camp program through the University of Detroit Mercy.

“I do hope to one day become an architect, so this was a real learning experience for me,” Hafner said.

The road to completing the project took a great deal of planning, from project design to fundraising to construction. Hafner had to coordinate volunteers, and he said he had a lot of volunteer help from his Scout troop, Troop 34.

They started building over the summer following the fundraising campaign.

“I did a lot of yard work,” Hafner said of the fundraising effort. “I did odd jobs for neighbors.”

He offered to play piano for special events as one of the possible things he could do to raise money; he also held a bottle drive and more.

The Grosse Pointe Rotary Club donated $250 to the effort during the fundraising campaign. That was about half of the cost of the project.

He thanked several people during the presentation, including his Scout Master, Gary Pantelis.

“A community built this, not I alone,” Hafner said.

Rotary Club representative Jon Gandelot stopped by the school to see the unveiling of the podium, as well.

“We do several projects in the community, and this seemed like a worthwhile project,” Gandelot said of the donation from Rotary for Hafner’s project.

School officials were happy to see the project unveiled at the school, as well.

“He came up with a real good project,” Monsignor Gary Smetanka said.

Smetanka saw it for the first time on the night it was unveiled.

“Wow, thank you,” he said. “It was a good gift, a very practical gift, certainly one that we needed. It puts to use his talent.”

Principal Julie Aemisegger was also happy with the finished product and the donation.

“We are just so pleased that Mikehl thought enough of his elementary and middle school,” she said of the gift. “It is beautiful.

“We like that it can be moved from room to room,” she said. “We’re very proud of him.”

She said they would make good use of it for years to come.