Assemble the college posse: Half-dozen ESJH sudents named semifinalists, follow Tumblin’s lead

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, September 20, 2017

RESERVE — From a pool of roughly 500 to 600 applicants in the New Orleans area, six East St. John High School seniors were selected as semifinalists to receive a four-year full tuition scholarship through the Posse Foundation.

Aliza Bovie, Edgar Alexander Folgar, Austin Scioneaux, Wesley Patterson, Durian Myers and Joshua Gilliam have already advanced past the first round of large group interviews and will soon be interviewed individually for a chance to become finalists.

Established in 1989, the Posse Foundation partners with schools from 10 U.S. cities, ultimately selecting bright, capable students to attend designated universities in groups of 10. The founding belief is that providing a built-in support group eases the transition from high school to college and increases a young scholar’s chance of academic success.

East St. John High principal Tabari Simon is seen in January with Elijah Tumblin, previous winner of a four-year full tuition scholarship through the Posse Foundation. Tumblin is now attending Case Western Reserve.

This winter, 40 students will be selected to attend one of the following colleges: Tulane University in New Orleans, University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio or Illinois Wesleyan University.

Posse first came to ESJH last year. Two students advanced to the semifinal round, and Elijah Tumblin was awarded a full tuition scholarship to Case Western Reserve last December.

According to East St. John High School Principal Tabari Simon, Tumblin’s accomplishment has made a momentous impact on the school.

“When you see one of your classmates achieve something, it makes the goal seem more attainable,” Simon said. “It allows the program to continue to grow.”

A few of the semifinalists said they are still in contact with Tumblin, and his success encouraged them to put their best feet forward after nominations were finalized.
Semifinalist Durian Myers said she was drawn to the opportunity because the application process recognizes students’ individual strengths and capabilities, rather than focusing solely on academics.

“They look at the person as a whole, not just at GPA and ACT scores,” Myers said. “They had us write personal essays to set us apart as individuals.”

Seconding this opinion, Simon said he nominated students based on a combination of traits, including, but not limited to success in the classroom.

“We looked for students who are not only smart, but also showed leadership and a willingness to grow as a person and make a difference,” Simon said. “It should be recognized that students can become leaders in the classroom or in the community.”

According to Simon, he has not heard one student come back and say anything negative about the Foundation.

“It’s amazing, and the Foundation has some of the most efficient planning I’ve ever seen,” Simon said.

Semifinalist Austin Scioneaux is excited about the possibility of going to school with a new group of friends and believes the Posse system could be especially beneficial for students coming from tight-knit families.

Another semifinalist, Wesley Patterson, said the reach of the Foundation has increased tremendously since last year, and he expects it to continue growing on local and nationwide levels.

“They saw potential in this area to bring a great opportunity to more students,” Patterson said. “I see it continuing to expand from the 10 current cities as well.”

Though still tight-lipped on some surprises to come, Simon said he has plans for other assemblies and classes to promote college readiness and open doors to more potential scholarships for students.

— By Brooke Robichaux