FORT WASHINGTON – Friendly High School is home to not one, not two, but three Posse scholars this year as Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) racked up eight altogether.
Joziah Mays, Jonathan Arrington and Shomari Todd have a lot in common. They are all 17 years old, seniors at Friendly High and now, all three are Posse scholars and will receive full-ride scholarships to college.
“I put a hole in my cabinet door because I was that excited,” Mays said, reminiscing on when he heard he got the scholarship. “Me and my parents were jumping around. My mom was crying and we were just happy for weeks. We still are.”
Each of the three young men are now part of a foundation that helps foster great scholars through providing them with a scholarship to pay tuition that totals approximately $140,000 and with a “posse” support system once they reach their university.
Next fall, Mays, Arrington and Todd will enter the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Lafayette College, and Sewanee, respectively, in multicultural groups of 10 known as “posses.” Throughout their college career, the posse members will support each other and receive ongoing assistance from The Posse Foundation.
“I was literally tripping that whole week,” Arrington said, explaining that he was nervous the entire week leading up to the announcement. “Me and my mom were just jumping and screaming and hugging. It was an amazing experience. I’ll never forget that.”
While having three Posse scholars at one school may seem like quite the feat, Friendly Principal Raynah Adams said his three scholars are just a small sample of the excellent students he has at Friendly.
“This is a phenomenal community,” Adams said. “You’ve met a small percentage of the student body and obviously they’ve made some outstanding achievements but they are, in a certain sense, the norm. There are a number of fantastic children here.”
Friendly has a track record to prove it, too. With nine previous Posse Scholars, the school is now up to 12 total.
“What it shows is that Friendly is on the map and Friendly is a great school,” Todd said. “Maybe people will start taking recognition and know what Friendly is really about.”
PGCPS also has a happy track record with Posse, boasting 32 scholars since 2013.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Posse Foundation, our students are able to realize their dreams of higher education,” said Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of PGCPS. “We are proud that our latest class of Posse Scholars continues the proud tradition of excellence, scholarship, leadership and ambition.”
This year Friendly had the most scholarship winners with three. Charles H. Flowers High School racked up two with Bowie, Fairmont Heights and Oxon Hill high schools all taking home one.
For Mays, Arrington and Todd, the journey to the Posse Scholarship was one filled with surprises, but also one of hard work. All three said they were surprised when they learned of their nomination.
“To be honest, when I was first nominated for the Posse Scholarship, I didn’t think that I personally was worthy for it,” Arrington said. “However, with advice from the teachers, they were telling me ‘you can do this,’ ‘you can pull this out’ and I’m just blessed that I did and blessed that I stayed through it.”
Despite their surprise, each one said they have worked hard to reach their accomplishments and education is of great importance.
“What’s important to me is education because my mom used this phrase she taught me: ‘education is the only weapon that no one can strip you of.’ So ever since then education has been my most valuable piece that I always kept with me,” Mays said.
Arrington said besides valuing education, his family instilled a strong work ethic in him. While he may not grasp a subject as fast as his peers, he works hard to reach success. Todd also said his mom taught him to always put “110 percent effort” into everything.
“Everything I do, I always try to be the best at,” Todd said.
And each of the Posse scholars at Friendly achieved excellence in their four years at the high school.
Todd has accumulated a 3.4 grade point average so far while juggling responsibilities of National Honor Society, football, track and baseball. He also participated in the Prince George’s County All-Star football game.
Arrington said he found support at Friendly in every facet of his experience. He pulled in a 3.5 GPA while participating in the English honor society, track, football and baseball. He also served as a captain of the baseball team and said he is proud of receiving a 4.0 GPA in his first semester as a senior.
Mays, who Arrington claims will be the class valedictorian, so far has garnered a 4.035 GPA while participating in the National Honor Society, the art honor society, the Spanish honor society and in baseball and wrestling. He was a captain in both sports, is the secretary of the school National Honor Society and was honored as an MVP in baseball.
And that doesn’t even begin to touch the surface, said Adams, who has watched the boys flourish in and out of school.
“I have to control myself and remember I’m their principal, not their father,” Adams said. “I just feel like a proud father when I look at each of those individuals.”
Now, looking forward, Arrington, Mays and Todd hope to succeed in college and emulate their heroes.
For Mays, who wants to major in computer engineering, that hero is Steve Jobs. He is excited to be able to have a posse in Wisconsin who will help him reach his goals.
“It means the world. I feel really, really happy and content that I’m going to have people with me to support me as I go through school,” Mays said. “Having that support, that is really going to help me through college.”
Both Arrington and Todd hope to imitate Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN talk show personality. Arrington wants to major in film and media while at Lafayette, and Todd wants to double major in English and film at Sewanee.
“That’s what I want to do when I grow up. He’s really my role model when it comes to talk shows because everything he does is amazing and he’s pretty funny to watch,” Todd said.
All three young men at Friendly High have now made the sky the limit for their dreams and are humbled that they no longer need to worry about the cost of college.
“It’s a big relief and it’s a blessing, because my family wasn’t financially set to send me through four years of college,” Arrington said. “When I got the scholarship I told my mom, ‘I got you. You don’t got to worry about anything.’”