Nick Notoris, second from right, stands in front of the newly constructed grotto at St. John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton with his parents and Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, who blessed the grotto Sept. 19. (COURTESY)

Eagle Scout builds grotto as parting gift to high school

BOCA RATON  |  In the center courtyard of St. John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton is a grotto recently built by Nick Notoris, a senior at the high school. 

Nick built this as his parting gift to the school and his Eagle Service project. On Sept. 19, Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito consecrated the grotto and statue as a “solemn, quiet place to honor and pray to the Blessed Mother.” 

The faculty and student body are excited to have this special place for meditation and prayer. Occasionally, the Friday morning rosary will be prayed outside at the grotto as a way to invite more people into a spiritual relationship with the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Assisted by his mother and father, Nick planned out the construction and dedication of this gift to the school. Along the way, he received substantial help from his sister, Megan, and family friend, Reagan Leen. 

Nick and the school also give special thanks to Victor and Jose Cedilla and PJ Wells, who all helped in the landscaping, stone setting and construction of the grotto. 

The project was a huge success thanks to their donations of time and talent. In total, the project cost $10,028 for all the supplies, including the statue from Louisville, Kentucky. 

Reflecting on his experience working on his Eagle Scout project, Nick said building the grotto was the easy part, the hard part was designing the grotto and getting the plans approved for construction. 

Construction on the grotto began Dec. 21, 2018, and continued until Jan. 4, 2019. A Boy Scout since first grade, Notoris is proud to finally be an Eagle Scout 13 years later. 

The grotto is adjacent to the religion classrooms and is readily available for everyone in the middle of the school’s campus. 

All are welcome to visit, mediate and honor the Blessed Mother.  

To learn more about the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Palm Beach, follow them on Facebook @DoPBCatholicSchools.