By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 26, 2011
Charles “Thad” Holden’s senior year started with a family tragedy. His father was stricken suddenly on a business trip while Thad hiked with the Boy Scouts in New Mexico. Rushed from the desert to Las Vegas, he and his mother were by his father’s bedside for days until he passed away.
“Everything he taught me, you have to remember and you have to build off of that,” Thad said. “Whenever there is a problem, it’s you. You’re the one who has to fix it.”
He finished his four years at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, with an eye toward attending Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.
A native of Louisiana, Thad grew up in Atlanta, the only child of an engineer, Chuck Holden, and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, a Department of Defense civilian employee. He attended the independent Catholic school on the north side of Atlanta, leading the cross country team for two years as captain and playing soccer. He is also a member of the Delta Omega service fraternity on campus. The family belongs to Holy Spirit Church.
Thad said his senior year has unfolded too quickly. He is looking forward to college but will treasure the days spent at Holy Spirit.
“You wait all this time to be a senior, and then you are here and it’s like, what just happened. It’s gone.”
Thad’s passion is the Boy Scouts. He started as a young Tiger Cub and achieved the highest honor in Scouting when he earned the coveted Eagle Scout rank.
His Eagle Scout project is part of an alternative energy display center at Holy Spirit that is toured by other high school students.
Thad constructed the project with his English teacher and mentor, Peter Radosta. Starting after his father passed away, the two spent several weeks in the summer heat putting it all together tucked behind the school’s tennis courts.
The centerpiece of the display is a 15-foot wind turbine. Its blades catch a light breeze and rotate, which generates power stored in batteries. The power in turn operates fans and grow lights in a nearby greenhouse. They also installed solar panels to capture power when the wind is not blowing.
“He is very creative, solving problems and treats people with respect and care,” said Radosta about his student.
For his Scouting project, he put together a fish tank that will be stocked with tilapia. The idea is to reduce waste and feed the fish the scraps from the school’s cafeteria instead of throwing the food into the trash. In the future, the fish may be given away.
“It took forever to find a sealant that was aquarium proof for fish and had the power to seal 200 pounds of water,” Thad said.
He found managing his project a challenge as he directed other workers.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks. It’s definitely a lot easier to be the hands than it is the mouth. You definitely have to be good at multitasking,” he said.
Beyond working together on the construction, Thad formed a bond with Radosta, 43, as he wrestled with his father’s death.
Radosta said he’s seen Thad grow into a young man.
“He cares about people. The great quality (about him) is he cares about people,” said Radosta. “It was mutually beneficial for both of us. We just helped each other out.”
“It’s definitely an experience where you have to grow up,” said Thad. “You have to learn you are not always going to have someone behind you.”