Four African-American students of Catholic schools honored for academic achievements

By Arlene Edmonds
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA — The first Msgr. John Mitchell Memorial Scholarship Fund banquet was a success. Held at the Hilton Hotel Nov. 2 and featuring keynote speaker Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, four Mitchell Scholars received $2,000 scholarships toward their high school education and the donations are still coming in.

In fact Father Stephen D. Thorne, director of the archdiocesan Office for Black Catholics and banquet organizer, said that he is looking forward to directing the almost $20,000 raised so far toward more scholarships next year.

Perhaps no one is more excited about this than the Mitchell Scholars themselves, who excel both academically and in extracurricular activities.

“I was very happy and proud to be acknowledged for all that I’ve done,” said Tiana Drummond, a senior at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor and a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in West Philadelphia. Besides posting a stellar scholastic record, Drummond has served on the student council, volunteered with “Best Buddies,” is a member of the school jazz choir, sings in her church choir, participates in the school news channel, and even works part time at one of Center City’s leading law firms.

Wallace Weaver was also among the four “Mitchell Scholars” who proudly accepted scholarship awards at the black-tie gala recently. He proudly accepted a part of the endowment earmarked for outstanding African American Catholic high student students attending Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools. The fund was established by the late U. S. Naval Captain Dolores Cornelius.

“It feels wonderful to be recognized,” said Wallace Weaver, a junior at the Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote. Weaver is the vice president of the Student Council, the defensive end for his school’s football team, a member of the school newspaper staff, and plans to participate in the World Affairs Club this semester. He attends St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Glenside.

An aspiring politician, Weaver spent last summer in civic service in rural Kentucky building trailers. “It was hard work,” said Weaver, an honor student. “I learned that there is great poverty in America. That’s why I want to help those who are that poor. I’m glad someone is helping me reach my goals, because I definitely want to finish high school and go on to college.”

Other student honorees also were recognized. Among them was Tyron Stinson, a junior at West Philadelphia Catholic High School. He pointed out that without this scholarship he was uncertain whether he could complete education in parochial school. When he graduates in 2010, he plans to major in accounting and continue his study of the French language. He attends Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in West Philadelphia.

“I feel really proud to have been selected for this scholarship that is helping me,” said Stinson, a varsity football player, who has recently joined the French Club and Law Club at his school. “I’ve worked hard in school all of my life. I take my time doing my homework, study a lot, and pace myself so I can complete all my assignments on time. Sometimes you just do things and you don’t think anyone notices. I had a good time at the banquet, and besides enjoying myself I felt proud.”

The other student scholarship recipient was Marquis Hudson, a freshman at Roman Catholic High School. He is a member of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. Like Weaver and Stinson, both Drummond and Hudson were selected from a pool of more than 30 applicants. Since the banquet committee exceeded their fundraising goal, the next banquet will likely take place in 2010.

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at