Scholarship recipients honored

Scholarship recipients honored


Madison-Ridgeland Academy students Ansley Ethridge, Sutton Sory, and Jack Evans recently got to enjoy lunch at Amerigo with Dr. Frazier Ward and Bobby Ward for receiving the Leigh Ann Ward Memorial Scholarship for their high standard of character.

The Wards started the Leigh Ann Ward Memorial Scholarship in 2010 after their daughter Leigh Ann died in a car accident. 

Ward was loved and cherished by many at MRA, and the Wards created the scholarship to have her legacy live on.

Martha Maxey, director of advancement at MRA, said Leigh Ann Ward was a kind, loving elementary computer teacher at the school.

“Leigh Ann possessed a high standard of character, and everyone here loved her,” Maxey said. “Her parents, Dr. Frazier Ward and Mrs. Bobby Ward, wanted to continue her legacy. Since 2010, teachers have followed a rubric to make their scholarship nominations and choose a specific fifth grader that possesses the same high standard of character Leigh Ann did for the scholarship. The recipient is always presented at the fifth-grade graduation at the end of the year.”

Winners of the scholarship each year receive a money sum that goes toward their tuition for the following school year.

This year, the Wards had a special lunch at Amerigo with the scholarship recipients from 2020, 2021, and 2022, since the pandemic prevented them from presenting the scholarship at MRA’s fifth-grade graduation for two years.

“The Wards would always come to the fifth-grade graduation to present the award there, but since they couldn’t do that in 2020 or 2021, they wanted to do this lunch as a way to give them the recognition they deserved,” Maxey said.  

Bobby Ward said the lunch was wonderful and she enjoyed meeting the children and their parents.

“Frazier and I enjoyed spending time talking to the students about school and activities,” Ward said. “Amanda is a wonderful principal and she did a great job telling us about why these students were selected for the scholarship.”

Ward said she and her husband plan to continue the scholarship indefinitely as long as they can keep doing it.

“MRA has been very cooperative, and every principal since we started it has been wonderful,” Ward said. “The students were very relaxed and talkative during lunch. Normally there’s not as much time to talk and converse with them at the fifth-grade graduation.”

“It’s always nice for scholarships to be given to students, especially at schools with high tuition as it helps with the cost,” she said.

Dr. Frazier Ward said he thoroughly enjoyed listening to the students during lunch and hearing what they’re looking forward to in the future.

“We miss Leigh Ann very much,” Ward said. “She was a good person and teacher. We’re going to keep giving money to the scholarship fund as long as we’re able, and we’ll continue giving money to Converse University in South Carolina where Leigh Ann attended college.”

Amanda Smillie, elementary school principal at MRA, said the Wards are special people who are very near and dear to her.

“I look forward to seeing them every year,” Smillie said. “They are very generous to MRA and donated a lot toward our enrichment facility, which we named ‘Ward Hall’ to honor Leigh Ann. They are very giving, loving people and are special to our school. We have a new computer lab in Ward Hall, so it’s all connected.”

Smillie said the Leigh Ann Scholarship is special and said it’s an honor for MRA to keep Ward’s legacy alive.

“The characteristics we look for in recipients are academics, leadership qualities, communication skills, citizenship, and a willingness to help others,” Smillie said. “Those are all qualities Leigh Ann Ward possessed.”

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