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Scout goes underwater for his Eagle project [Ellicott City]

As a Howard County Volunteer Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician trainee, Kevin O'Brien, a high school senior, observed the elite Fifth District VFD's Dive and Rescue team members during training exercises.

In an email, O'Brien explained he noticed that the team's training at a local quarry was limited "due to the silty quarry bottom which impedes their visibility." That's when he had an idea to build a working platform above the sediment to improve the team's underwater search and rescue training.

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In addition to his work as an EMT trainee, O'Brien is a Boy Scout and Venture Scout with Troop 944 chartered by the Bethany United Methodist Church in Ellicott City. Blending his interest in emergency medicine with his love of Scouting, O'Brien set out to design and build the underwater platform as his Eagle Scout project.

"I chose this particular project because I wanted to not only give back to my fire station, but to enable a valuable and specialized team in training for the betterment of the community," O'Brien said.

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With the help of an engineer friend and Eagle Scout Steve Johnston, the River Hill High School senior designed a 10- by 7-foot platform made of galvanized metal planking and custom galvanized supports and railings.

The project was not without its challenges, "The leg system had to be adjustable to account for the slope where the platform was to be installed," noted O'Brien.

Twenty-five volunteers and 100 man hours were needed to complete the platform, which was sunk in the Nichols quarry by the Fifth District Dive and Rescue team.

O'Brien reflected on his Eagle Scout project, "I wanted to ensure that when I look back on this project that it is something that I can be very proud of, despite the fact that it cannot be seen."

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Don't miss "The King and I" musical at Mt. Hebron High School Wednesday, Nov. 12, through Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m., in the school's auditorium. Seventy students, including 20 local elementary students, grace the stage to bring this wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein classic to life.

The cast includes juniors Jacob Kempic and Kendall Grove in the title roles and features Emma Kate Davis, Alyssa Tschirgi, Carly Wakefield, Naomi Abankwah, Drew Holt, Frank Faust, Tharen Rice, Sam Bishop, Mike Olson and Ilan Pluznik.  Under the direction of Tom Sankey, the creative team includes senior Zack Stewart (lighting director), Amanda Tschirgi (choreographer), Chris Hettenbach (musical director), Barbara Bogart (costume director) and Pete Johnson (design and build director).

The show will be accompanied by a live orchestra ensemble featuring Pam Goss and Susan Ricker (pianists), seniors Brandon Breazeale and Ben Bellis (percussion) and Mt. Hebron High School Principal Scott Ruehl (bass).  For tickets, call Mt. Hebron during school hours to reserve seats at 410-313-2880 or purchase tickets at the door.

Get your kids excited about math at the free second annual HoCo Math Festival on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Centennial High School. Students in K through 12th grades will enjoy over 50 organizations presenting hands-on demonstrations and activities designed to help inspire them to explore careers in math (and STEM). For more information, go to http://www.STEMulatingMinds.com

Head down to historic Ellicott City for a Big Band Swing Party.  On Saturday, Nov. 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., the Ain't Misbehavin' Big Band is back by popular demand at the Howard County Historical Society Museum, 8328 Court Ave. Musical director Gar Foreman has a great night planned with the sultry sounds of Brenda Blackwell and vocals of Jody LoMedico. Tickets are $15 per person or $25 a couple. To purchase tickets, go to hchsmd.org and click "Event" tabs,  then the "Upcoming Events" link.

For more information call 410-480-3250.

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