PARIS — Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School senior Zack May’s goal for his Eagle Scout Service Project was to honor his mother, Stacey Mitchell.

May was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as a young child. Determined to make sure he got the support necessary to combat the condition, Mitchell dedicated herself to learning about interventions and techniques for kids with ADHD.

“She didn’t understand what ADHD was then,” May said. “So she went down the rabbit hole to find ways to help me succeed. And she decided to go into the profession [of early childhood development].”

She was also by May’s side from the time he joined Boy Scouts of America Troop 130 in Paris 13 years ago, acting as a Cub Scout leader.

Zack May of Paris, second from right, is Boy Scout Troop 130’s most recent Eagle Scout. Also pictured from left: mother Stacey Mitchell, father Kerry Mitchel and brother Travis May. Supplied photo

“It kind of became our thing,” May said, adding that his older brother Travis May also progressed through Scouting to earn his Eagle badge. Scouting became an even bigger part of May’s life after a knee injury ended his school sports pursuits of wrestling and football.

Mitchell’s research about ADHD ignited a passion to make a difference beyond her family, leading to a career as an administrator in child development services.


In recognition of Mitchell’s dedication to the field, May decided to tackle his final Scout service project in a way that honored his mother’s work on behalf of western Maine children learning with the disability.

He was able to double his impact by linking his Eagle badge to his OHCHS senior project.

May decided to build chalkboard tables and easels for pre-school kids in early intervention programming.

“Child Development Services [where my mother works], they work with children on hand-eye coordination,” May explained. “How they hold pencils. They work on their fine motor skills as well. It’s an all-round therapy, it’s kind of advanced class for special needs children. They work on specifically what a kid needs to be able to be at the same level as others without those same needs.

One of the chalkboard easels Eagle Scout and Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School senior Zack May made for kids in Child Development Services. Supplied photo

“I wanted to come up with a way to help younger students. I had a whole list of ideas, and this wasn’t even on the list. I came up with the idea myself. My mother went into that profession to help me, and I wanted to pay it forward as a way to honor her.”

Mitchell’s CDS office works with children in Oxford and Rumford and May made enough tables and easels for both locations.


“As a child, they get a piece of paper and a pencil. But when you have an entire table you can write on to express your imagination, it makes the lessons more fun,” he said. “It also gives the materials to incorporate with what the kids are doing.”

Using tables already in use in classrooms and input from educators, May transferred the specs to his own design. He decided on pine rounds for the table tops after learning that square tables with sharp corners can pose safety issues, using chalkboard paint as surface cover.

He started the project last summer, lining up younger Scout volunteers to assist in building them, and completed it in early March. His parents, brother Travis and Troup 130 Scout leaders all provided support as well. May’s Eagle board review was followed by his senior project presentation to a four-person panel at OHCHS, which included a special education teacher.

“With an Eagle project review, you sit with council members and they just fire off questions and you answer as many as you can,” May said. “You can take your time, because they are meant to pick your brain to assess what you’ve learned. There is no failing it, but they want you to demonstrate what you’ve learned. They asked me 84 questions in 84 minutes.”

One of the most important lessons May attributes Scouts with helping him with, is his ability to communicate with others. “I would not be able to speak out to people as well today without it,” he said.

May has received positive feedback from the educators with CDS. Using more supportive tools for learning, the young students were finding new ways to express themselves and communicate what they were learning.


Zack May’s classroom chalkboard tables make it easier for special needs students to express themselves and demonstrate their learning. Supplied photo

“Some of the kids, they [teachers] thought didn’t know how to speak, or their colors and how to draw shapes, or spell their names – with a whole table instead of just a piece of paper to work with, they could write their name across the entire table, and fill it up. If a teacher asked to use a piece of green chalk, the kids knew what chalk to pick up.”

Among May’s Scout badges are ones for communication, first aid, personal management, and nuclear science. While he has aged out of Scouting, he is moving up to the leadership level: he will become Troop 130’s junior assistant Scout master, next to his brother Travis who is now the troop’s Scout master.

He will be Travis’ assistant while he attends Southern Maine Community College to study pre-engineering, a career he was inspired to pursue by his uncle Nate Rioux, who is an engineer.

“Scouting is very beneficial to life,” May said, summing up his 13 years as a Scout and future as a troop leader. “But you only get out of it what you put into it. Depending on how much you put into it, it can take you miles and miles into life. It can help prepare you for anything.”


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