Pelham Strong awards scholarships at PHS Awards Day

Published 4:10 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham Strong, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting the community, was among a number of organizations that recently awarded scholarships at Pelham High School’s annual Awards Day on May 1, which highlighted student achievement and the taking of next steps following high school graduation.

City Councilmembers Chad Leverett and Rick Wash, who organized and currently helm Pelham Strong, were present at the event and awarded Jessica Joy Ferguson and Molly Seales both with $1,000 scholarships on behalf of the organization.

Both students were featured prominently in announcements from the nonprofit that highlighted both of their community efforts and praised them for recent successes and their established presence within Pelham City Schools and the broader Pelham community.

“Jessica (Ferguson) has been part of the Pelham School system for a long time, and she attended Valley Elementary,” Pelham Strong’s announcement read. “She says the Pelham Community backs each other up and supports each other.  She pointed (specifically) to the Destiny Strong Foundation which raises money for Childhood Cancer Awareness.”

Ferguson currently interns at Pelham Oaks Elementary and Pelham Park Middle School and has specifically aided in classes that focus on speech and special needs efforts. She also currently serves as the liaison between the Pelham High School Student Government Association and the Pelham Oaks Parent Teacher Organization, where she has coordinated and helped with the planning of several community events including the school’s Breakfast with Santa last year.

“She is an alumna of Youth Leadership Shelby County where she participated with a service project collecting donated shoes for children around the world,” the announcement read. “She loves community events, and has partnered with the Pelham Park & Recreation Center with events like Pelham in the Park, United Fun Run and Kites & Bites.”

Like Ferguson, Seales is also an alumna of Youth Leadership Shelby County. Seales was recognized in specificity for her work with the Panther Pals Club at Pelham High School, which focuses on integrating special needs students into high school and community events.

Having only started with five members at its inception, Panther Pals has now grown to 36 members as of April 2024.

“She also works as a mentor and coach for Pelham Youth Cheerleading,” the announcement read. “Her uncle, Danny Ray, was part of the first graduating class in 1974 who graduated from Pelham High School, and Danny served the city of Pelham as a fire chief.”

Since its founding in August 2021, Pelham Strong has set out to organize community events and mutual cooperation to embolden and better community ties within Pelham and in recent years the organization has awarded annual scholarships to Pelham High School seniors who are stepping into the next chapters of their lives.

Ferguson and Seales now join 2023’s recipient Lydia Norris, who was recognized in part for her organization of a diaper drive that collected 132 pounds of diapers for the Shelby Baptist Association, among the growing list of scholarship recipients.

The Pelham Strong Scholarship highlights students who have worked toward the betterment and good of their neighborhoods and community. In line with that distinction and the organization’s guiding principles, community involvement is one of the largest determining factors in deciding the scholarship’s recipients.