Coral Reef Senior High School incoming senior Tyler Benjamin spent more than a year teaching groups about American flag etiquette. The community education program was part of his Eagle Scout project. He taught people when to display the flag, how to display the flag, and when to retire the flag. He explained that the community needed a place to deposit worn flags and he’d take care of the actual flag retirement.
“I had a booth at the Camping in the Park and the annual picnic events. We demonstrated folding flags and had kids participate,” he says. “I also had support from the American Legion.”
That was step one, educating the public and raising funds for the deposit boxes, by collecting donations and selling new American Flags.
Step two called for placing flag collection boxes in public areas.
Benjamin began his project planning more than a year and a half ago. He completed the physical part of the project late last summer. He had 51 volunteers who helped throughout the project.
One of the boxes is in Coral Reef Park, in the parking lot next to the tennis courts. Once the cement pad was dry enough, Benjamin drilled holes so they could put in screws to secure the box to the pad. He also planted bushes around the pad and mulched the area.
“We are going to go back and keep it nice,” he says. “I’m planning, hopefully before the summer ends, to go back to put some more mulch and keep it well maintained.”
The second box is by the entrance of the Palmetto Bay Library.
“It also has a cement foundation and it matches the area,” he says. “I collect from the boxes at the end of the month.”
Each month he collects approximately 100 flags. After they get to a certain amount, they schedule the retirement ceremony, which includes the Boy Scout practice to respectfully burn the flags.
Since then, they had a retirement ceremony at Coral Reef Park.
“We had one at a Camping in the Park event. After the movie that night, we had two big fires going,” he says.
They also did one at St. Richards Catholic Church.
“There is a little fire pit in the back that can be used for retirement ceremonies,” he says.
He’s working on training others in his troop on how to keep his project going when he goes off to college.
At Coral Reef, Benjamin is in the Engineering magnet as well as a member of the National Honor Society and the National Science Honor Society. Members teach science and help other students through tutoring, either after school or during lunch.
He’s in the SECME club, which competes in a variety of contests. He helps prep others with their projects and last year he participated on a team that built a mousetrap car.
Benjamin plays tennis for Coral Reef. He’s been on the team since sophomore year and will be co-captain next year. Outside of school, he plays tennis at Coral Reef Park and USTA.
This summer, Benjamin spent three weeks at the University of Miami taking engineering courses. He was most fascinated by biomedical engineering and particularly developing prosthesis and working with amputees.
“It was a fun three weeks,” he says. “There were a lot of professionals that we learned from.”
Currently, he’s leaning toward biomedical engineering as a major. He’s considering attending a state school such as Florida or Florida State and going out of state for grad school, possibly to Texas A & M.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld