Verona Youth Council memorializes student with scholarship fund

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

VERONA – The Verona City Youth Council has honored a friend and former fellow student by naming its scholarship fund after him.
The Jamal Wells Memorial Scholarship Fund was named at a ceremony at Verona City Hall on Sunday. Wells, 17, a senior at Shannon High School, died Sept. 4 in a house fire.
The Youth Council, which teaches Verona high schoolers about city government, is sponsored by Jessie Gilmore, a member of the Board of Aldermen. But she said both the scholarship and the new name were the students’ idea.
“This is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Youth Council,” Gilmore said. “This has been awesome to me.”
The Youth Council is five years old and the scholarship has been around for two years. Money for the scholarship comes through fundraising and donations, and it will be split among the council’s graduating seniors who are going to college.
Keoisha Ivory, the council’s mayor and a friend of Wells’, said Sunday’s council meeting was an emotional one.
“I’m kind of sad and elated at the same time. I’m glad I was a part of it,” she said.
Also at Sunday’s meeting were Wells’ family, Shannon High School administrators, Verona firefighters and members of the Lonesome Riders, a horse riding club to which Wells belonged.
Wells’ father, James, spoke at the ceremony.
“We can’t ever replace Jamal,” he said, “but I just cannot thank you enough.”
Wells’ mother, Jacqueline Meardith, received a plaque from the council honoring her son.
“It’s truly a blessing,” she said. “It was the ending of his life, but the beginning of many more things. There are tears of joy, tears of sadness.”