Weeks after their fellow Troop 489 members were recognized by the township committee for achieving the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America, two more teens were awarded special proclamations commending their volunteerism.
Flanked by family amidst the applause of their peers and fellow residents, Shreyas Murali and Rakesh Senthilvelan were presented the proclamations by Mayor Gloria McCauley during the April 24 committee meeting.
Officials commended the youths for their commitment to their troop and the work they completed in their pursuit of becoming Eagle Scouts.
“The Hillsborough Township Committee recognizes and extends our sincere congratulations to Shreyas Murali and Rakesh Senthilvelan for having achieved the status of Eagle Scout,” McCauley said. “[That rank is] an honor for both and for those who guided [them], with best wishes for a bright future.”
As a Hillsborough High School senior, Murali earned the Eagle Scout rank after completing his project, which consisted of building a “Buddy Bench” at Hillsborough Elementary School.
According to the teen, the bench is intended to be a place for kids to make friends and be more accepting of their classmates’ differences. The bench features an inscription, reading “if you can be anything, be kind.”
Along with the bench, Murali prepared and landscaped the immediate area surrounding the bench. Officials said the entire project was the culmination of approximately 142 hours of labor and required the assistance of 14 other people.
Over the years, Murali has served as Troop 489’s patrol leader, quartermaster, troop quartermaster, librarian and Philmont Trek crew reporter.
In Hillsborough High School, Murali participates in the school marching band, sax quartet, jazz ensemble and the grand staff ensemble. He also is the German Honor Society president, a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honors Society. He is also involved in the Hillsborough UNICEF Club and Band Council.
“I would like to thank Hillsborough Elementary School Principal Susan Eckstein, who enabled me with a wonderful opportunity and venue to do my Eagle Scout project,” Murali said. “It was an honor for me to give back to the community and I hope to do it in the future.”
Murali also thanked his parents for “pushing me so hard to get to this point.”
Senthilvelan, also a Hillsborough High School senior, completed his Eagle Scout project by conducting a fundraiser in order to purchase, package and ship 300 care packages to soldiers stationed overseas through Operation Shoebox.
The teen said it was through his efforts that he realized the importance of Operation Shoebox and its message.
“Project Shoebox was very helpful in helping me carry out my Eagle project and they’ve also really opened my eyes to this cause of helping soldiers stationed overseas,” he said. “[Our troops] deserve all of the respect that we can give them.”
As a member of Troop 489, Senthilvelan has served as the assistant senior patrol leader and led a Philmont Scout Ranch expedition and crew leader.
In school, he is a member of both the high school golf and track teams. He also serves as the Spanish Honor Society vice president and the National Honor Society treasurer.
Over the years, Senthilvelan has earned several awards at Model United Nations conferences in the United States and Canada and was awarded Volunteer of the Year in Mumbai through the organization Uplift Humanity, which seeks to educate children in impoverished areas of India.
“I’d like to thank my troop mentors and my fellow troop members…they’ve all been very helpful to me throughout this process of obtaining Eagle,” Senthilvelan said. “They’ve been great role models for how I should lead my life.”