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    Eagle Scout project gives opportunity for Monroe Tech student to shine

    Ian Pham and Friar John Mosimann pose for a picture in front of the new sigh Pham built for St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Leesburg. Photo Courtesy/Chau Pham
    Chau Pham recently gestured to a brick walkway outside of Market Station in Leesburg.

    “Ian helped build this,” Pham said.

    The walkway is not the only project that Ian Pham, Chau’s son, has helped build. Ian Pham is autistic, and along with his masonry class at C.S. Monroe Technology Center, he built a new sign for St. John the Apostle Catholic Church that will face King Street in Leesburg for his Eagle Scout project.

    “The Eagle Scout project pulls together all of activities he's involved in,” said Chau Pham.

    The new sign, construction of which was recently finished, is made primarily out of brick in order to echo the church’s architecture. It's designed to be an improvement on the church’s former sign in both material and location.

    “What it really does is identify us on King Street,” said Ken Tschida, St. John’s development director. “Also the existing sign [was] made of wood and [didn't] match the side of the church.”

    The idea to construct the sign for his Eagle Scout project came as a result of the masonry classes that Ian Pham has been taking at Monroe Tech. However when Pham first began taking the classes there was doubt as to whether he could grasp the material.

    “Everyone was thinking, 'Can he do it?’” Chau Pham said. “Nobody knew, including me, whether he could succeed.”

    However Ian soon proved that when it came to masonry, not only was he up to the task, but that it was a field in which he could thrive, despite his autism.

    “It’s helped him find and hone his talent,” Pham said. “He shines when it comes to the hands on stuff.”

    Not only has masonry provided an outlet for Ian Pham’s talent, it has provided him a social circle.

    “The boys kind of adopted him like a brother,” said Chau Pham.

    While taking masonry classes at Monroe Tech is an activity that Ian has recently started, Ian has been involved in Scouts for even longer, spending roughly 10 years combined in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Chau Pham said that scouting has been a great experience for Ian.

    “He loves and does well with outdoor activities,” Pham said.

    Ian Pham is a Life scout, the rank before Eagle, and the project will put Ian one step closer to his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, The Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank.

    After this year, Ian will be moving on from Monroe Tech and will enter a program called Community and Schools Together which Chau Pham hopes will help transition Ian into the working world.

    “Hopefully we'll get him an apprenticeship, maybe with masonry,” Pham said.

    While the future for Ian may still be uncertain, the impact of Ian’s work in Leesburg has already been felt.

    “[The sign] has been a monumental project for them and we're very pleased with the progress so far,” Tschida said before the sign's completion.

    Ian said he's pleased with the project as well and explained his motivation behind its construction.

    “I like to make nice things,” Pham said. “I like to make it perfect.”

    Ian Pham, Steve Hess, Life-to-Eagle Scout coordinator, and Chau Pham, Ian's dad, at the beginning of the project. Photo Courtesy/Chau Pham

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