It took nearly five years to prove themselves achievers in such areas as emergency preparedness, hiking, personal fitness, public speaking and swimming.

During this time, Jazz Michael Lewis and Christipher K. Streeter, both 16, also distinguished themselves in family life, woodcarving, aviation, wilderness survival and salesmanship, among a host of areas. In doing so, the two teenagers ascended to the highest level a boy can go in scouting.

Last month, Lewis, a Springdale resident and junior at Charles H. Flowers High School, and Streeter, a Mitchellville resident and junior at Annapolis Area Christian School, were rewarded for their hard work and perseverance.

As several hundred people looked on, Lewis and Streeter, wearing their Scout uniforms and sashes covered with the patches of their accomplishments, were presented the Eagle Scout badge. The ceremony, called the Eagle Court of Honor, at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden was touching for Lewis, Streeter and their families and friends who gathered for the dinner presentation the week before Thanksgiving. "You are worthy to be praised," Prince George's County Council Chairman Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) said during the dinner program.

The ceremony, which featured members of Lewis's and Streeter's Troop 1657 marching with the U.S. flag and saluting in their crisp green "Class A" shirts and slacks, stood in stark contrast to another image of young black males that has made headlines in this county.

Recently homicides in Prince George's reached a record high -- a disappointing milestone and one in which many of the victims are young African American men.

But on this Saturday, doom and gloom were not on the agenda.

Rather, it was young men such as Lewis and Streeter, and the many other male teenagers in Prince George's who are working hard to become good citizens and leaders, that this group focused on.

"It's important that young people know that they can be leaders regardless of what everybody else is doing," said Streeter, who added that, for him, being successful is about setting goals and not following the crowd.

Indeed, both Lewis and Streeter are independent-minded teenagers who are devoted to their families and their church -- First Baptist Church of Glenarden.

Both teenagers completed the rigorous course of progress awards to earn the required 21 merit badges. They each fulfilled a requirement to develop and lead others in a service project beneficial to the scout's religious institution, school or community.

For his project, Streeter rebuilt, rerouted and replaced a washed-out segment of the Yellow Trail at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro.

Christipher Streeter Sr. and his wife, Denise, could not have been more proud of their son. "This is about showing people that our young men can do anything they set their minds to," Denise Streeter said. "It's not the way they look or the way they talk, it's what is on the inside of them."

The elder Streeter, an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 1657, added to that thought.

"I am not concerned about him becoming a medical doctor, but a good citizen," he said. "I want him to be a good husband, a good neighbor and a good citizen."

Lewis provided a musical ministry to residents of Heartland Health Care Center in Adelphi for his service project. He said making Eagle Scout came down to determination.

"There's no use in working toward something and not getting to the finish line," Lewis said. "You have to decide that you are not going to quit."

William T. Jolley, the program's keynote speaker, can attest to that. During his speech, he talked about how he went from earning near-failing grades to making the honor roll at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where he is a junior.

"Life is a constant fight, you have to set goals," said Jolley, a former Boy Scout and member of the church. "You gain opportunities by showing up and standing out."

William Chin Sr., Troop 1657 scoutmaster, said scouting has grown since the days when he earned his Eagle Scout badge back in 1975. Among those signing their sons up are men who want to be involved in the community and who want their sons to be involved.

"When I first started, it was just me and a lot of parents dropping our children off," Chin said. "In our society there is a mind-set of 'I got mine and I'm gone.' But we want to stay and deposit something back into the community."

Samuel H. Dean, top photo, chairman of the County Council, presents Jazz Michael Lewis, left, and Christipher K. Streeter at the ceremony, where an array of Scout merit badge emblems was on display, above. At left, fellow Scout Sean Suber, 16, of Lake Arbor plays for the group.