As a thank-you for what the Gahanna schools have provided him, Jack Cimicato decided to give back with an Eagle Scout project.

As a thank-you for what the Gahanna schools have provided him, Jack Cimicato decided to give back with an Eagle Scout project.

Cimicato, a senior at the Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools, began his education in Gahanna at Chapelfield Elementary School when he was diagnosed as autistic.

His father, Thom Cimicato, said his son's Eagle Scout project, helping Royal Manor Elementary School students identify trees, is his way of saying thanks to the district.

"When he was in the first grade, we got call from his teachers and they got us in touch with Children's Hospital, and he was diagnosed as autistic," Cimicato said. "From there, the school district really stepped up and put him on an IEP (individualized education plan) and helped us as a family deal with his diagnosis. The intervention program, the autistic program, the schools had for Jack was absolutely incredible."

In completing his Eagle Scout project, Cimicato worked with Royal Manor Principal Rick Oxley, who wanted some interactive science activities for students to do outdoors.

In explaining his project to Gahanna-Jefferson school board members Dec. 8, Cimicato said students can go to eight different trees at Royal Manor's playground and be an arborist.

They can try to identify the trees by their leaves, berries and bark, he said.

When they think they know the type of tree, they flip over a cover to see if they've guessed correctly.

Cimicato created a resource for teachers in grades 3-5 to use in teaching about nature in their backyards, said Lori Walther, Royal Manor PTA president. She sent an email to Superintendent Steve Barrett recommending that the district honor Cimicato.

"He created a map of the trees on the playground, and signs that can be temporarily attached to the trees," she wrote. "When they have identified the tree, there's a flap on the sign that is lifted to reveal the tree that it is and provide more information about the tree."

Walther said Cimicato never asked for any special accommodations because of his disability while he worked toward his Eagle Scout rank and completed all of the requirements cheerfully.

"The amount of work that it takes to earn the award without a disability is huge, and for him to earn it is amazing," she said. "I believe that his choice to do a service project for the schools is fantastic because he used his leadership skills to give back to his school (system).

"While there may have been easier tasks for him to complete, he chose to do something that will continually benefit the students at Royal Manor."

Cimicato attended Chapelfield, Middle School South and the high school.

"He stands before you as an Eagle Scout," Thom Cimicato said. "I have to thank the school district and thank Gahanna and thank all his teachers. I'm proud of Jack. He's a pretty rare kid."

Cimicato hugged his father, saying it was making him emotional, too, thinking how far he has come to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

"I tell you it was all worth it," he said.

Barrett presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his service to the students and teachers at Royal Manor.

"Jack has always been there for anyone who needs him, whether that be in Scouts, school or community," Walther said. "Jack has grown into a fine young man and is an inspiration to people around him.

"Young men work very hard to achieve this and very few actually do."