The Story Behind the Barbara Ward Scholarship

This is the story of six young men who became friends through the wise guidance of a teacher at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky.

It all began the first day of the first year of high school when Ryan, Chris, Clyde and Philip were in the same section of freshman Advanced English with Mrs. Barbara Ward. Mrs. Ward had arranged the tables into a U-shape with room in the middle so she could walk up and down. Ryan, Chris, Clyde and Philip were all spread out in the classroom; however, they stood out because they were a select few African American males that had an immediate bond. The seating arrangement went on for a couple of weeks until Mrs. Ward felt she knew the students well enough to put them in groups.

Mrs. Ward grouped Ryan, Chris, Clyde and Philip together and told them her rationale: she wanted them to stick together for the duration of the year, to become friends and look out for each other and make sure they all passed the class. At the time, the boys didn’t think that was anything special. They already had a basis for developing a friendship. Clyde and Ryan had attended the same middle school and Philip, Clyde, and Chris knew each other from middle school sports teams. It was easy for them to find common ground.  Ms. Ward knew that for each of them to succeed in the challenging class, they would need to support each other. Although she didn’t know how far this friendship would take the boys, she had an idea that creating a foundation of friendship and mutual support would eventually help them all succeed far beyond her classroom.

When baseball training began, Ryan and Philip came to practice and found that Jordan also planned to join the team. Philip knew Jordan from middle school and Ryan knew Jordan from Little League so Jordan blended into the group easily. Thomas also joined the group through sports. He and Chris played freshman football together. Since Thomas had different classes with most of the guys and already knew everyone, he easily molded into the group. Ms. Ward approved because she knew both Jordan and Thomas outside of the classroom but never got a chance to teach them.

Flash forward—this group, that Mrs. Ward helped form, has held together through college, careers, graduate schools, and all the twists and turns of life. They have continued to be supportive of each other and they make sure that one another are successful and headed down healthy fulfilling paths.

In 2014, the 10-year reunion of the Class of 2004, we decided to do something to commemorate our legacy at Bryan Station High School and the strength of the group. We decided to create a scholarship for a college-bound senior at our Alma Mater and not surprisingly, we decided to name it the Barbara Ward Scholarship. Mrs. Ward played a significant role in bringing all of us together. She saw something in all of us, and she taught us many lessons, but most importantly she taught us to stick together.