By Tess Wallenstein
“Knowing that you’re serving other people cancels out every challenge,” says Cathedral Catholic High School senior Clayton Jaksha. In many ways, this idea sums up Clayton’s way of life, which, although he is just 17, has been marked by a spirit of giving back to his community.
Clayton was honored for his most recent service on Jan. 7 when friends, family, and fellow Boy Scouts gathered for his Eagle Scout ceremony at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank available within the Boy Scouts of America program, which Clayton has been a part of since he joined Del Mar’s Troop 713 as an elementary school student. Since then, he has risen through the ranks to become Senior Patrol Leader during his sophomore year and a member of the Boy Scout’s National Honor Society, called the Order of the Arrow.
“[Eagle Scout] is a capstone, a summation of everything you’ve done earlier as a Boy Scout.” explains Clayton.
In order to reach the level of an Eagle Scout, scouts must meet several requirements, which include participating in a Scoutmaster conference and undergoing a board of review process. The most extensive requirement, however, is a service project which the scout must spearhead from start to finish. For his, Clayton designed and directed the construction of planting boxes and benches at Notre Dame Academy’s preschool, a project that he devoted 250 hours to.
Eagle Scout is not the only honor that Clayton has earned during his senior year of high school. After undergoing what he describes as a very intimidating review process, Clayton received a nomination from Congressman Brian Bilbray to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, located in upstate New York. Upon his graduation from West Point, Clayton will become an active-duty member of the Army and, in doing so, will continue a family tradition of military service.
“I want to serve my country, not for glory, but to be able to preserve other people’s freedoms,” says Clayton, who plans to study electrical engineering. He hopes to “use these skills in the field to do whatever the Army needs.”
Aside from his extensive career as an Eagle Scout and working towards earning his West Point nomination, Clayton is active within the Cathedral Catholic community. He started the Service Academy and ROTC Club at Cathedral Catholic, was on the varsity wrestling team for three years, and is a member of the National Honor Society and Model UN. While he acknowledges that his spare time is limited these days, he enjoys playing the guitar, piano and cello, as well as hanging out with his friends. In June, he will graduate as the valedictorian of his class, before he continues his life of service at West Point this fall.