When Clarksdale High School Class of 1985 graduate Mary Catherine Broom died, her classmates wanted to find a way to honor her memory.
The Class of 1985 created a memorial scholarship where five members of each graduating class receive $1,000 to go toward paying for college. The scholarships have been given out for the past three years. Donations come from members of the Class of 1985 as well as other members of the community.
“They go through a vetting process and they do an essay and the committee decides who wins these scholarships,” said CHS Class of 1985 graduate Dr. Anthony L. Thompson Sr.
Each student writes an essay about why they deserve a scholarship and what perseverance they had to overcome during their high school years.
The 2021 recipients are Marchellos Scott, who will be attending Morehouse College; Chelniah Pollard, who will be attending Coahoma Community College; Miriam Howard, who will be attending Coahoma Community College; Amaya Brown, who will be attending Spelman College; and Kasiya Williams, who will be attending Coahoma Community College.
“Mary Broom actually worked in the school system,” Thompson said. “Her last class was this class. When she transitioned, we all met afterwards and Marvin (Class of 1985 graduate Marvin Reddick) threw out the idea of doing a memorial scholarship and that’s how it manifested.”
Reddick said the Class of 1985 was eating at Atzimba Mexican Restaurant when he thought of the idea.
“I think it’s a good thing because, actually, she was the impetuous for it of being one of our very close classmates,” Reddick said. “The idea came to commemorate our fallen classmates because we’re up to about 14 now from the Class of ’85. We’re all 54 years of age this year and it was sort of an impromptu re-pass at a restaurant after her passing. The idea came of commemorating them. What better way to commemorate them than to give an educational opportunity at her alma mater? With her having been an educator, I think that would just add a lot of momentum and importance to the commemoration.”
Reddick hopes to expand the scholarships.
“Our goal is to turn is to what we have dubbed memorial scholarship weekend into an on calendar weekend in the city of Clarksdale involving as many classes as we can and collecting scholarship donations for the children at our alma mater,” Reddick said. “We hadn’t met prior to the pandemic.”
However, Reddick said he met with representatives from the CMSD and city of Clarksdale about different ideas to accomplish goals of raising $50,000 of scholarship funds from different classes.
“Next year, we plan to do $10,000 just to set that example and show how doable it is to get $50,000 for our students,” Reddick said. “We also applied for our 501c3 and we will go forward from there.”