Education

This Belleville teen wants to make the most of his time in high school

Belleville West student completes Eagle project

Maxwell Juhas, of Millstadt, Illinois, is a freshman at Belleville West High School in Belleville, Illinois, and he talks about leading a team of volunteers to rejuvenate the bleachers at Tuffy Mueth field for his Eagle Scout project in the Boy Sc
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Maxwell Juhas, of Millstadt, Illinois, is a freshman at Belleville West High School in Belleville, Illinois, and he talks about leading a team of volunteers to rejuvenate the bleachers at Tuffy Mueth field for his Eagle Scout project in the Boy Sc

Maxwell Juhas doesn’t know yet what he wants to do for a future career, but the Belleville West freshman is determined to get the most out of high school.

He is member of the Marching Maroons, jazz band, Illinois Music Education Association jazz band, speech and acting team, debate team, math team, scholar bowl, Model U.N. and was in the freshman/sophomore play.

“I love learning, which is part of the reason I’m so engaged in these extra curriculars,” he said. “Because it gives me a chance to do more of what I love.”

Max says freshman year is the “perfect time to jump in and start doing these organizations and clubs,” because schoolwork gets harder as students progress through high school.

He advised other students to be as active as they can. “I now have so many friends and so many different people I interact with on a daily basis,” he said.

His desire to be active in high school is one of the reasons he opted to finish a community service project this summer and become an Eagle Scout. Eagle is the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

I love learning, which is part of the reason I’m so engaged in these extra curriculars. Because it gives me a chance to do more of what I love.

Maxwell Juhas, freshman at Belleville West

The 15-year-old is a member of Boy Scout Troop 622, which is sponsored by St. James Catholic School in Millstadt under the leadership of Scoutmaster Otto Faulbaum.

For his project, Maxwell coordinated a work crew at Tuffy Mueth field in Milstadt. They cleaned, sanded and repainted the main grandstand bleachers tan with green highlights. The bleachers total more than 1,700 square feet and took Max with the help of fellow scouts and adult volunteers more than 100 man-hours to complete the project.

“A lot of that actually goes into planning and organizing the whole thing; contacting the town because we need permission and we need materials,” Maxwell explained.

Faulbaum praised Max’s leadership throughout the project. He said an Eagle Scout project helps young men learn project management skills. A Scout must come up with the idea for a project and present it to Boy Scout leaders.

“It has to be something that is of value to the beneficiary,” Faulbaum explained. For Max’s project, the village of Millstadt was the beneficiary. “It was something on their wish list of things.”

He said Max took a “really good approach” by contacting the right people, researching the project thoroughly, acquiring materials and recruiting volunteers.

“A boy who does a proper Eagle Scout project needs to manage other people doing some portion of the task,” Faulbaum said. “I went and assisted him the day of the project. It seemed like he did a great job of organizing people.”

As a member of Troop 622, Max has served in numerous leadership positions including patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader and currently serves as a senior patrol leader.

He has earned 29 merit badges, and completed National Youth Leadership Training this past summer at Camp Vandeventer in Waterloo.

“He really seemed to embrace the experience of learning more about leadership,” Faulbaum said.

In 2015, Max was inducted into Nisha Kittan Lodge, the Lewis and Clark Council’s Order of the Arrow lodge, and this summer was voted crew leader by his peers during a 12-day trek to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico.

“He really took it responsibly,” Faulbaum said. “It was great to see them mature as a crew under Max’s leadership. I couldn’t imagine a more ideal experience with these young men.”

In addition to Boy Scouts and school activities, Max is participating in the Gateway2Change program sponsored by EdPlus and was recently selected to be a 2017 Youth Ambassador for the Millstadt Sister Cities program.

It’s a great experience for me to have a smart, organized young man running the troop ... He’s (Max) been a really good youth leader.

Scoutmaster Otto Faulbaum

Q: Why have you continued to be in Scouting?

A: “One of the biggest draws for me personally, especially getting Eagle Scout, (is it) looks really good on college applications. ... Plus it’s something to do. It’s fun. I enjoy doing it ... I love the people in our organization — Troop 622. It’s really a fun experience that has a lot of positive repercussions.”

Q: How did you decide on your Eagle project?

A: “The mayor of Millstadt — he knew painting the bleachers was something that needed to be done. He suggested it to the scout master as a project a boy could do for Eagle Scout. We had been looking at renovating the park area, something along those lines. Both of those combined helped me decide to paint the bleachers.”

Q: Over the summer you did a 12-day trek in New Mexico. What was that experience like?

A: “It was incredible. It was honestly one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. We trekked at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico. This was something we had been planning for two years time. I was the leader of my group. It was peer lead. I was elected the leader of my crew. We went out and hiked for 12 days, did all sorts of activities. We climbed a mountain. It was an incredible experience. It’s one of the things I would say that’s been the highlight of my Boy Scouts experience.”

Q: So you were in the woods for 12 days straight?

A: “We camped out in the woods for 12 days. We hiked over 100 miles with 50-pound backpacks; everything we needed we carried in our backpacks.”

Q: What was the most memorable part of that experience?

A: “There was a lot of memorable parts. There’s all types of activities we did aside from the hiking. The biggest one was climbing Mount Baldy; it’s the tallest mountain they have on that property. Summiting that mountain was really the climax of our experience together. It was very emotionally charged.”

Q: What was the National Youth Leadership Training like?

A: “That’s training for Boy Scouts. It’s a week-long camp. You are put in a group of five with people that you don’t know. You have to work together in activities ... All throughout they are giving you all sorts of leadership training. All these tools you can use as a leader, not only in Boy Scouts but in all aspects of yourself. That’s something I know I have started using since I participated.”

Q: What does your role as senior patrol leader of your troop entail?

A: “It’s essentially being the president of the organization. I have to lead planning for meetings and lead the meetings themselves, plan events, and contact organizations that are helping us. We are holding a camp in January. It’s a bi-annual camp — the Klondike Derby (on Jan. 21-22). We have to plan this for 12-plus other troops to come and participate at our camp. ... This is something that I have been orchestrating.”

Q: You play the trombone. What do you enjoy most about that instrument?

A: “I just love the way it sounds. It’s very lyrical. It’s the instrument that sounds similar to the human voice. The slide allows it to move more fluidly and tonally. It can play high range; it can play low range. That’s something I really enjoy about the instrument.”

Q: How do you balance all your activities?

A: “A lot of it comes into effective time management. Don’t procrastinate. Get things done as soon as you can. It’s all about working in balance. Balance is key to life. ... It’s all about scheduling things out. Knowing what has to be done and scheduling it out, piece by piece.”

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: “I really love pop culture so books, movies, music, TV shows. One of my biggest life philosphies is no matter what you believe, you are only on this Earth once as yourself so you should experience as much of it as you can. Even though, I can’t be traveling the world at such a young age. I can be taking part in books, movies and all sort of different pop culture and learning about the world.”

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

Meet Maxwell Juhas

  • School: Freshman at Belleville West
  • Age: 15
  • Family: Parents Kevin and Traci Juhas and sister Sydni, 11
  • Hometown: Millstadt
  • Grade school: Millstadt Consolidated School
  • School activities: Marching Maroons, jazz band, Illinois Music Education Association jazz band, speech and acting team, debate team, math team, scholar bowl, Model U.N. and was in the freshman/sophomore play
  • Instrument he plays: Trombone.
  • Community activities: Boy Scout Troop 622
  • Recently finished the book: “Fahrenheit 451”
  • Favorite movies: “Shawshank Redemption,” “Sixth Sense” and “A Few Good Men”
  • Favorite TV shows: The Marvel shows on Netflix including “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”
  • Favorite food: His mom’s Texas sheet cake
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