Cranberry students among first Cardinal Wuerl scholars

| Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Freshmen Joshua Henn and Steven Spotts of Cranberry Township recently were named among the first Cardinal Wuerl Scholars — and the scholarship money will pay much of the cost of Catholic high school.

Henn and Spotts were among the five winners will receive $26,000 to apply to Catholic school tuition.

Their selection out of 40 students was based on academic performance, an essay, an interview, leadership and service to the Lord.

Joshua, 14, carefully considered his essay topic — one that would later inspire the judges. He described what it was like to be a Catholic. He converted from Presbyterian to Catholic last year.

His religion classes at St. Alphonsus School in Pine Township had an effect.

“Becoming Catholic is the most important thing in my life,” said Joshua, a St. Alphonsus graduate.

This fall, Joshua and Steven will attend North Catholic High School in Troy Hill, where tuition is $9,700 for Catholics and $10,300 for non-Catholics.

The new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School on Route 228 in Cranberry is scheduled to open in fall 2014, replacing the Troy Hill site. The new $71 million campus is situated on 71 acres.

“As we begin our life as Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, we wanted to offer this to the best and the brightest,” Beth Pawlowicz, admissions director, said of the scholarships.

“We wanted the scholarship program to be as competitive and as ambitious as the students we wish to attract.”

North Catholic alumnus Joe Wilson pushed to create a merit-based scholarship. As the school's business manager for about 10 years, he worked to develop a way for more teens to afford a Catholic high school education.

Through diocesan programs, fundraising and budgeting, money was in place this spring, he said.

Wilson, 40, couldn't be more pleased with the students who were selected.

“These are exactly the kind of kids we want to represent us,” he said. “We're investing in the right kind of people.”

Spotts, 15, who graduated from St. Kilian School in Cranberry, also had planned to attend North Catholic, but with one brother in college and two younger siblings, he thought he'd help his parents financially by trying for the scholarship.

His essay detailed his participation in the North Pittsburgh Catholic Ironmen, a youth football league.

“I was one of the first members to take it from low class to a feared team in the North Pittsburgh diocesan league,” he said.

His teams made the sectionals for two years in a row and then the playoffs.

The interview turned out to be “friendly conversation.”

“I felt confident. I didn't stumble,” he said.

“Going to a school where I can learn about God is very important.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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