Spryfield high school student wins $100,000 scholarship

Silas Moore said it was an average April day when he left his calculus class at JL Ilsley High School in the Spryfield area of ​​Halifax to check his email. A new message in his inbox read, “congratulations.”

He was about to find out that he was the winner of one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarships.

Every year, 1,500 high school students around the country, each representing a different school, are nominated to win a $100,000 or $120,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. Only 100 of those students are selected.

“I remember calling my mom and saying, ‘I think I did it,’ and that was such a big moment in my life. And you know, you’ll get a lot of feelings. But for me, I had come from so many drawbacks in my life … I just remember saying, ‘I finally did it,'” he said.

Moore’s resume includes an internship at IBM and mentoring at Brilliant Labs, a charity that helps children learn coding and digital skills.

Mentoring with Pathways to Education

But he didn’t get the scholarship without support.

Moore says he was mentored by high school teachers and Pathways to Education, a nationwide high school program aimed at youth in low-income communities.

Before the organization came to Spryfield in 2010, the district had a 55 per cent graduation rate, according to Chebucto Connections, a neighborhood hub. Ten years later, the graduation rate had risen to 70 per cent, according to Pathways to Education’s website.

Support worker Ben Clost has worked at the organization for four years. Moore was one of his first student mentees.

Clost remembers the day he learned the good news. He said Moore walked in wearing a Memorial University of Newfoundland sweater and sweatpants, with a massive smile on his face.

“It was just like cheers and hugs and high fives and, I mean, it was just amazing. We were so proud of him,” Clost said.

‘Kids are going to get some inspiration’

For Moore, the scholarship is about more than himself.

“I feel like growing up in Spryfield, coming from a low-income area, a lot of these kids are going to get some inspiration and understand that, you know, even a big scholarship, even the biggest scholarship is welcoming to them, ” he said.

Clost said many students in the district struggled financially, and that made it harder to go to university. Pathway to Education exists to help students in low-income districts like Moore, who grew up in public housing, graduate university and move on to a job or post-secondary education.

The program offers tutoring, mentoring and scholarships to students. Clost said any JL Ilsley High School student, or students in that neighborhood, are welcome to take part in the program.

Moore said he plans to come back and talk to students at Pathways to Education in a few years. In the meantime, he’ll start his science degree at Memorial University in the fall.