The mural encompasses every nation and features drawings of culturally significant landmarks. Rivello, a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School, said he hopes the artwork will teach students at the Maspeth school about geography and get them interested in doing some research of their own.
A native of the Upper West Side, Rivello has lived in Maspeth for the last eight years. He said he also decided to paint a world map to encourage immigrant families and students to feel more connected and represented in the community.
He noted that Maspeth has long been a place of immigrants, from Polish, Italian and Irish immigrants in the 20th century to South American and Asian immigrants who have moved there over the last few decades.
“I think in the future more so than now,” Rivello said, “it’s really important to make sure every culture is represented so everyone can feel at home in Maspeth.”
For Rivello, the Eagle Scout project is the major milestone in a decade-long journey in the Boy Scouts. He started as a kindergartener, when he was first introduced to the community of scouting.
Rivello said he liked the structure of it, working collaboratively and the sense that other people are there for you.
“It definitely did help with developing certain time management skills, as well as academic skills further on,” he said.
As part of a scouting troop located in the Upper West Side, Rivello said he learned practical skills like tying knots and surviving in the wilderness. But he also learned life skills such as the importance of teamwork, how to deal with conflicts and how to care for one another.
The Maspeth resident said he considered dropping scouting a few years ago. In the ninth grade, he was on the baseball team, which took up a lot of his time. He also shouldered a heavy homework load as a freshman at Stuyvesant High School.
“I was like, this is not the coolest thing,” he said. “Maybe there are other things I could do.”
At that point, however, he was already a Life Scout, the second-highest rank attainable behind Eagle Scout. Rivello said he thought about how rare being an Eagle Scout is today, and what that rank represents.
He said it means that you have demonstrated leadership skills and can communicate well with people even in the most difficult times. He also enjoyed activities like hiking, which was an outlet for someone who grew up in the urban landscape of New York City.
“I realized that this is a great opportunity for me, and I’ve got to stick with it,” Rivello said. “I’m glad I stuck with it, even though I had those years of momentary pause.”
As a senior patrol leader last term, Rivello led his scouting troop despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down in-person activities. He organized Zoom meetings with up to 40 participants, combining both fun games like online Jeopardy with basic skills training, like tying knots.
“It all worked out pretty well,” he said.
When it came time to decide on his Eagle Scout project, which is required to achieve the highly coveted rank, Rivello said he turned to his two biggest passions: geography and history.
He has been a history buff since he was a child. Rivello recalled going into his parents’ books at four years old to memorize the names and facts about past American presidents. He would also find a global atlas and look up countries.
As he got older, Rivello said he enjoyed learning about the histories of each country, their populations and the impact that geography and people have on the environment.
“I think history is just the greatest story ever written,” said Rivello, who is likely to major in history in college. “There are so many chapters, so many things to look at. Everything connects to one another.”
He also noted that geography is easier to express on a wall, which is why he chose to paint a world map. Rivello said he thinks the mural will inspire kids to look at these two topics more intimately.
The mural took four days in total to paint. Due to coronavirus regulations, Rivello was only allowed to have 10 volunteers in the basement at one time. People cycled in and out of the room every four hours.
The first day consisted of putting some primer on the wall, projecting an image of the world map and using grease pencils to trace it out. On the second day, Rivello and his volunteers painted the countries and the ocean. The last two days were dedicated to drawing borders, adding the images and other details.
Rivello noted that he chose St. Stan’s as the location for his project because his father and uncle both attended the Catholic academy for grammar school. His grandfather also has a strong connection to the parish, and his family goes to mass there every week.
As he put the finishing touches on his Eagle Scout project, Rivello reflected on how much time and effort he put into the last ten years.
“Each year has been better than the next,” he said. “It means so much to me.”