There’s nothing ordinary about becoming an Eagle Scout, and that’s especially the case for Samantha “Sam” Harader.
She’s the first-ever female with that distinction at Ark City High School.
According to a news release from Ark City USD 470 Monday, Harader grew up following her older brother around on all of his Boy Scouts of America adventures. Now, she’s the first ACHS female to become an Eagle Scout — a prestigious honor originally reserved just for boys.
After Scouts began allowing girls to participate in 2019, Harader quickly decided to join Troop 1328. Three other girls joined around the same time, the school district said. The boys and girls do all the meetings and activities together and sleep in separate areas on camping trips.
“I was excited to join,” Harader told USD 470. “I had grown up following my brother and his friends around and has always wanted to do the activities.”
During her time in Scouts, Harader worked hard to become a den chief for Cub Scouts, a senior patrol leader, and leader of the troop’s color guard.
“What started out as just an hour a week, quickly became so much more,” she said. “I spend at least four hours at the church for Scout meetings and that doesn’t include the hours of planning and events. It’s definitely a lot of work but I love it.”
Approximately four percent of Scouts earning the rank of Eagle Scout, according to USD 470. Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges before becoming an Eagle Scout.
Badges are earned in a variety of skills ranging from cooking, first aid, and personal fitness to automotive maintenance, environmental science, and wilderness survival. Scouts must also demonstrate great leadership skills and complete a community service project.
Harader has earned 27 badges.
Her favorite is the law badge that she earned last March, the school district said.
“Samantha is a true asset to our school and community, she always has a positive attitude and a smile on her face,” West said. “Her friendliness, hard work, dedication, and helpfulness in all she does is truly inspiring.”
According to the Boy Scouts of America website, the law merit badge allows a Scout to learn about the various types of laws, law enforcement methods, careers in the legal profession, and much more. For her community service project, Harader constructed a donation drop-off bin for Rooted Ministries in Ark City.
Lory West, ACHS Teacher and founder of Rooted Ministries said Harader not only designed and built the donation bin, but her project has led to additional knowledge and support of the ministry within the community.
“Samantha is a true asset to our school and community, she always has a positive attitude and a smile on her face,” West said. “Her friendliness, hard work, dedication, and helpfulness in all she does is truly inspiring.
“Samantha is an outstanding young woman who has a tremendous heart for serving others and making the world a better place.”
Through this project and her other achievements, Harader has demonstrated the values of the Scout Oath and Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, and reverent, the school district said.
Harader stated she sees a correlation between these scouting traits and those of being an Ark City Bulldog — specifically, being honest and friendly. She also said she’s proud of her accomplishments.
“At first, I didn’t really think about becoming an Eagle Scout as such a big deal,” Harader said. “But as I did the work and heard from older people who were close to earning Eagle but fell short, I started to realize just how big of an achievement it is. I kind of impressed myself.”
Harader thinks her experience in Scouts is also helping to set her up for future success.
Though only a freshman, she is considering careers in photography, law, or law enforcement.
“Being in Scouts has helped give me great leadership and problem solving skills — all of which I know will help me in the future,” she said. “It’s also helped me with things like basic note taking and has given me more confidence in myself.”
In addition to the education she’s receiving within Scouts, USD 470 says Harader is able to explore her various learning and career interests through the high school’s Career and Technical Education program.
So far, she’s been able to take an Intro to Law class and Photojournalism. ACHS has several CTE “career clusters” including Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security as well as Arts and A/V Communications. She also plans to take advantage of earning free college credits through the ACHS and Cowley College partnership.
“Our school and community offer students a lot of wonderful opportunities to help them become their best selves,” ACHS Principal Jeremy Truelove said. “We are so proud of Sam and can’t wait to see what she will continue to achieve.”
Harader says she simply hopes her achievement will inspire other girls to join Scouts.
“To me, it’s all about being loyal and prepared for anything,” she said. “We have a lot of fun and together, there’s nothing we can’t do.”