New honor presented to five students at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School

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Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Troy Hill is looking to reinvent itself with a new school, new curriculum and a new scholarship program.

The school, which will be moving into a new building in Cranberry for the 2014-15 year, has introduced the Cardinal Wuerl Scholar Awards for incoming freshmen.

The recipients are: Anna Rutkowski, David Eppley, Emma Cullo, Joshua Hen and Steven Spotts.

Each will receive a total of $26,000 throughout their four years in high school. Tuition for the school is $9,700 a year, which means that the scholarship will cover more than half the cost of an education at the school

Also, these students will serve on a school council that will meet with the administrative team, they will attend the annual Positive Life Seminar at the Duquesne Club and will participate in a yearly council roundtable luncheon with Bishop David Zubik.

For years, the scholarship has been on the mind of Joseph Wilson, the director for business affairs. Now, with the school moving 20 miles north into a new building next year, he said the time was right for his vision to come to fruition.

"For many years we always wanted the top talent to come here and I felt like this would be a prime way to get it," Mr. Wilson said. "We just felt like we couldn't pass it up."

All scholarship recipients had to attend a Catholic middle school, have at least a 3.5 GPA and be recommended by their principal. Based on this criteria, 40 students were invited to submit an essay, which asked them to describe a group with which they identified, such as their church, Scouts or their family, and then to describe a moment of pride in that group that showed mentorship or being mentored.

For her essay, Anna, 14. from Pittsburgh, wrote about her silver project for Girl Scouts. On Saturday mornings, Anna cooked breakfast for students who attended tutoring sessions Northview Heights. She called her culinary efforts Saturday cafe and made waffles, oatmeal, pancakes, and brought fruits, milk and yogurt.

Another winning essay was written by David, 14, from Treesdale, about his experience as an altar server. When he first started, he said he was young and nervous, but by the time he finished he was able to help mentor others.

The essays were evaluated by a six-member committee of English teachers, school board members, the dean of students and an alumni representative. From 40 applicants 10 were chosen for personal interviews.

"There was an incredible amount of maturity and grace that was shown in the topics that were written about," said Beth Pawlowicz, the director of admissions. "It was actually very, very difficult to choose the 10."

During the interviews, students were asked about their extracurricular activities and why they applied. David said he was asked about his activities, such as football and altar serving.

"The interviews were more impressive in some ways than the essays," Mr. Wilson said. "These students were forced to speak off the cuff to a group of adults. The composure that some of them exhibited was impressive."

Anna said she was nervous throughout the interview as she sat in the principal's chair and fielded questions from a panel of adults. The nervousness turned to joy hours after the interview when she received a call that she won the scholarship.

Of the 10 finalists, five were selected.

Both Anna and David, who are interested in the STEMM, or science, technology, engineering, math and medicine program that will be part of the new school curriculum, said they are excited to start their high school careers.

"I am looking forward to it," Anna said, "It's just exciting because it's a whole new experience going to another school."

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