Cameron Coyle

From left to right: Cameron Coyle, Katy Manning and Dan Weiss of Robbinsville High School (Photo by Gregg Lerner) The quest is personal to Cameron Coyle, one that has revealed both his passion for history and compassion for injustice. It’s a journey he embarked on nearly six years ago and seen it only pick up steam, along with a corps of volunteers, from members of the Robbinsville School District faculty and as well as close friends, compelled to to aid his cause.

Why? Why help a guy determined to gain proper recognition for a former President of the United States whose term lasted a mere 492 days? 

A. They are drawn in by his magnetic personality. B. They are inspired by his endless zeal. C. They see somone with an unflappable drive worth emulating D. All the above.


If you chose D, give yourself a gold star. 

Coyle is unique. For almost as long as he can remember, he has had a deep interest in those who’ve resided in the White House. Heck, ask some of his current and former teachers and they’d suggest Coyle himself is on a trajectory to one day call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. his home address.

 

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This is a story about a student who’s invested hours far too numerous to document advocating on behalf of Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States, who died in office a shade over a year after being sworn in.

Taylor’s interesting tale resonated with Coyle. Summer vacations with his parents, grandparents and brother were spent visiting presidential libraries, monuments and parks that stand to honor and recognize their public service. Only one former President doesn’t have such a place. 

Yup, Zachary Taylor.

 

“He has nothing in his name where you can go and dynamically learn about his life or you can be educated and have a personal experience that you won’t get in books,” said Coyle, a junior at Robbinsville High School. “Every President has that place where you can go and learn about their life. I think it’s important to have that because that’s when history comes to life. You can read books as much as you want, but not everyone finds it the most intriguing form of learning about history. Once you are put in the shoes of these great leaders, you can understand where they are coming from and history takes on a brand new form.”

To date, Coyle has visited 33 such institutions, but only one - yet to be constructed - has captured his undivided attention. His lengthy research, work that has made him one of the most respected authorities on Taylor, eventually steered him to Louisville, Kentucky and Springfield, the house in which Taylor grew up in. Coyle contacted the owner, Dr. Bill Gist, whose late wife Betty is a distant relative of Taylor, and struck up an immediate relationship, paying a visit two years ago.

“He's lived there for 40 years and has done an amazing job continuing to preserve it out of his own pockets,” praised Coyle. “He has kept the house in pristine condition and understands the importance of what I’m trying to do. I want to be respectful to him.”

Besides getting the blessing of the homeowner, Coyle has received endless guidance and encouragement from many in the Robbinsville education community. Rosemarie (McGlew) Genovese, a fifth-grade teacher at Pond Road Middle School, lit the initial spark by reinforcing his commitment, one that earned him recognition last spring when he was honored by the New Jersey Council for Social Studies in a ceremony in which Genovese presented him with the award for his impact in social studies.

“We started talking after 5th grade...what do you want to do?. Your above and beyond anything I’m doing here,” Genovese recalled. “He was going to write a book for kids, then he was going to make a coloring book. At 11 he’s going to do this. That perculates until the summer between 6th and 7th grade. He starts researching and realizes Zachary Taylor is the only President who doesn’t have a thing and decides something has to be done. He fully acknowledges that this is not a President high on everyone’s visitation list. He’s not Lincoln, he’s not Kennedy.”

 

Perhaps, but Taylor has certainly become Coyle’s president. He enlisted his close friend, Dan Weiss, to help him construct a website and, lo and behold, those who share in rallying for Taylor can go to The Zachary Taylor Project, an in-depth site that details Taylor’s life as well as the cause Coyle and Company have undertaken, to finally build an official site in his name. 

Should it come as a surprise Coyle would go to such lengths? Absolutely not. To serve and protect is in his blood. 

Coyle is a highly-respected goalie for the Robbinsville High School lacrosse team and has already made a verbal pledge to Yale, where he plans to continue his academic and athletic fields. He is also the founding member and Vice President of the Bipartisan Political Action Club at RHS.

The dude is a Renaissance man.

“What amazes most about Cameron is what a fine young man he has become,” said Katy Manning, a history teacher at RHS. “He is extremely grateful for every opportunity he has been offered. He is a consummate gentleman and regularly seeks out ways to show his appreciation for those around him.”

Sentiments echoed by Genovese.

“To know there is a kid that passionate and continues that passion is the most satisifying thing I’ve been a part of in my teaching career,” Genovese said. “He is so thankful for any help anyone gives him. Cameron is one of the smartest, most motivated, mature students I’ve ever had. Knowing I had any kind of fingerprint on that, is amazing. I know he going place. I bust his chops all the time, that when it’s time for the Inauguration, I want the dais credentials.”

Coyle is quick to deflect any praise back upon those who played an integral part in molding him into the exemplary student-athlete that he’s become.

“I’ve had a ton of amazing history teachers throughout my whole experience in Robbinsville,” Coyle noted. “Ms. Manning, Mr. Gibson...every grade, I’ve had teachers who’ve just been amazing at sparking my interest with the things they were teaching. I love being engaged in their classes.

“This specific project I’m working on was aided by Ms. Genovese, who I have a very close relationship with. Back in middle school, she was my Gifted and Talented teacher. One day, I told her about what I’d learned of Zachary Taylor, that he doesn’t have a historic site to his name. She got the wheels turning for me. She made me believe that I could make a change in that area. Ever since then, I’ve been driven to see this vision of mine all the way through.”

Those wheels continue to spin, steering Coyle on a historical trek that's nearing its finish line. A job well done.

***Keep up with Cameron Coyle's pursuit on behalf of Zachary Taylor on social media... The Zachary Taylor Project on Instagram The Zachary Taylor Project on Facebook


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