Terra Environmental Research Institute senior Jackson Margulies earned the rank of Eagle when he was only 15. Margulies is a member of Troop 457, based at Kendall United Methodist Church.
His Eagle Scout Project beautified, repaired and refurbished the playground used by Friendship Circle of Miami. Friendship Circle is a non-profit which trains and pairs teen volunteers with special needs children and special needs teens. The children can have Down Syndrome, autism, or cerebral palsy.
“I’ve been involved in Friendship Circle for four years,” he says.
Friendship Circle has many programs. One program is Sunday Circle that takes place on site and another program.
Margulies says the bi-weekly Sunday Circle program includes working with a child or teen, helping them with the programs including music, karate, gymnastics, fitness, dance, arts and crafts and science.
‘I’ve been with the same child for four years,” he says. “It’s been nice hanging out with her.”
Margulies participates in the on-site Sunday Circle program, so he was familiar with what the playground needed in terms of improvements.
“We did several different things,” he says. “We repaired a destroyed wooden fence on the perimeter. We also constructed and replaced all the wooden boarders around the playground equipment and replaced the mulch surfaces around the equipment.”
Margulies’ favorite contribution to the refurbishment of the Friendship Circle playground was a huge raised half butterfly and half vegetable garden.
“I had 36 volunteers who dedicated 265 service hours in order to complete the project,” he says.
He was happy with the way the project turned out.
“It’s all about the kids for me but it’s always good to be environmentally friendly as well,” he says. “To bring an element of nature into our special friends’ lives is very good.”
Friendship Circle is an important program to him because his older brother was a recipient of services from the program.
“They did such a good job of pairing him with the most amazing teen volunteers,” he says.
“I wanted to give back to the community. There are no other programs in the community quite like Friendship Circle – it serves our special needs community while also providing an important opportunity for teens to volunteer and really make a difference in our community and change lives – for the better.”
At Terra, his favorite classes are engineering and art. He attends the robotics and engineering magnet program. He also takes Advanced Placement Art classes.
“I love art, I love producing art,” he says.
He’s also developed a passion for drawing architecture.
“I love how architecture varies across the world – the diversity is incredible. I also enjoy the challenge of solving problems in my engineering classes,” he says.
He also loves how building involves architecture and engineering – mechanical, structural, and electrical.
“I hope to pursue a career in college in either architecture or engineering,” he says.
His college list includes the University of Florida, and engineering type schools like MIT and architecture schools such as Pratt Institute.
Margulies is an officer of the Art National Honor Society, and he is a member of the art club and the National Society of High School Scholars.
His AP Art concentration was drawing buildings from pictures he obtained from the internet or pictures that he took on his international travels.
He likes to work with gouache, which combines the best aspects of both watercolors and acrylics.
This past summer he was accepted to attend a competitive six-week Architecture program at Cornell University but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld