Eagle Scout Project Pays Homage to Family Friend
Parker resident, Kyle Kester, has been a scout since he was six years old. He started as a cub scout, then became a boy scout and will soon complete the final requirements to become an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, he chose to create the MJ Graves Memorial Garden which is located at Murphy Middle School.
Graves was Kester’s younger brother’s best friend. In Jan. 2019, Graves lost his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. Graves had been a student at Hunt Elementary and MMS.
Kester said he chose to honor Graves in this manner because, “I felt like it needed to be done because he deserves to be honored.” Graves spent a lot of time at the Kester’s home and the two families were, and continue to be, great friends. Kester describes Graves as a caring and compassionate person. He was heartbroken when Graves died and said a void remains.
After gaining approval for the project from MMS Principal Matthew Conrad, Kester worked with Tina Pilgrim, MMS teacher and environmental club sponsor to choose the site of the garden and the plants that would flourish in this environment. He chose trees and plants that spotlighted Graves’ favorite color, blue. One of the focal points of the garden, which measures 25’ in diameter, is a Blue Ice Arizona Cypress which can grow up to 35’ tall. Flanking the garden are two windchimes which Kester said “…are there to remind us that MJ is still a part of us and will always be in our hearts.” The garden also includes rocks that the Graves family collected on their many vacations. A stone marker has been ordered and will soon be placed in the garden that reads, “Savor Every Moment – Michael “MJ” Graves”. This was a message that Graves stressed to everyone he talked to before he passed.
Planning for the garden began in Feb. 2019, and the project was presented to the troop committee in March. On May 11, Kester, along with members of his troop, troop parents and brothers worked with friends of Graves from his troop, troop 285, on the project. Torrential rain on the first workday provided a muddy twist to the project that was already facing a pretty tight timeline. Eagle Scout projects must be completed before the scouts 18th birthday and Kester’s birthday is May 23. Rain continued to fall on most of the nine days it took to complete the project. Kester said had it not been for the rain, the project would have been completed in half the time.
Regarding who he feels will benefit from the project, Kester said, “Anyone in the community who is grieving. This is to help remind people that those who are gone are still a part of us. It will be very special to people who knew MJ.”
MJ’s mother, Rebecca Graves, visited the garden while it was being made. Upon completion she said it was beautiful and thanked Kyle for creating it.
Elements of scouting Kester has enjoyed are learning more about the outdoors, responsibility, leadership and life skills. He recommends joining scouting and says each troop is different and there is a troop for everyone. He voiced appreciation for each person who donated to his project.
Kester is a member of troop 295. He graduated from Plano East Senior High this year. He will attend Texas A&M in the fall and major in biology.