In the mid 1980’s, as a relatively new superintendent of schools in the Upper Darby School District who remembered all too well his days of growing up poor in Philadelphia, Joseph Batory decided to make a bit of positive difference each year for a worthy graduate of Upper Darby High School. And so, he initiated his own personally funded scholarship.
Batory is also the grandson of immigrants from Poland. The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship memorializes their legacy. Both of his grandfathers “worked long and hard hours” in the coal mines and eventually suffered lung disease so that future generations of their family would have success in the future.
He has always left the selection of his scholarship recipient in the hands of the Upper Darby High school staff, only urging only that there be academic promise and financial need as the criteria for his scholarship award.
And so, at the Upper Darby High School Class of 2022 Awards Night (June 2, 2022), The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship was awarded for the 34rd consecutive year.
And the newest recipient is Darrah Wahner.
“Darrah wants to eventually become a Mental Health Counselor so she will begin studying psychology at the university level in the fall,” said Batory. “ She is a perfect choice for my scholarship. Throughout her years in the Upper Darby School District, she has consistently been a high achieving academic student while being active in extracurricular activities and holding down a part-time job in Drexel Hill.”
The ethnic backgrounds of The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship recipients are remarkably diverse: Here are just some of these Batory awardee names: Kurbaj: Ong; Arsenlis; Ko; Shah; Mozdzanowska; Phan; Khawaja; Ferdaus; Nguyen; Lai; Phung; Hussain and Ansari.
Batory’s annual scholarship awards have tugged at his heart. Annually, he receives “thank you notes” from his scholarship assistance recipients. Here are two of them:
“Your scholarship help has enabled me to begin my next adventure as
a college student. My family is far from wealthy, so I have received some
financial aid from my college and I will be using student loans as well.
But the impact of your grant has made the difference and opened the
door to enrollment for me.”
“I am so honored to have received The Joseph Batory Scholarship because
you are a legend in the school district. I want to assure you that the money
you have supplied is allowing me to begin my first year of college. But,
more importantly, your gift has filled me with determination to succeed.”
The note to Batory below is from a young man who escaped the violence of Syria and found a new life in Upper Darby. It is very moving:
“The Joseph Batory Scholarship is worth much more than its monetary value because it is much more about your belief in me. It also reflects all the fact that the Upper Darby School District has given to me so much. And it is a reminder of what makes the diverse Upper Darby community so special. My dream is that I may someday be able to replicate what you have given to me and my family.”
“I never ceased to be amazed at the products of Upper Darby High School.” Summarized Batory. “While high schools which educate students from affluent and basically homogenized communities regularly get public acclaim, Upper Darby High has been and continues to be about making a positive difference for all who come to them.
“The brilliant student, the newcomer, the achiever who has overcome adversity, the average student, the slow learner, and those with special needs all exist in large numbers at Upper Darby High. Indeed, the diversity of Upper Darby High, academically, socio-economically, racially, and ethnically, is staggering. A majority-minority school, more than 70 different languages are spoken in Upper Darby homes. And the school system’s legacy of success stories for many thousands of pupils from all sorts of backgrounds is exemplary.”
In a world with too much cynicism and nihilism these days, take heart. There are indeed good young people among us, many of them at Upper Darby High School, talented dreamers who have the potential and a desire to make a difference for the better for others in the future.
Joseph P. Batory, the superintendent of schools of the Upper Darby School District from 1984 to 1999, was honored with numerous leadership awards when he retired and even recognized by the President of the United States. The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship has been awarded each year to a UDHS graduate over the past three decades.