Congratulations to Steward’s 2023-24 Impact Scholars, Shem Abel ’27 and Annika Yaratha ’27.The Impact Scholars program provides $10,000 merit scholarships for tuition in Steward’s Upper School to two outstanding current Steward eighth-grade students. Impact Scholars are chosen based on character and leadership, as well as community service, academic excellence, and extracurriculars, and automatically are offered spots in Steward’s Leadership Program.
Shem Abel ’27
Described as a “sensitive, caring, and intelligent young man” by his former tennis coach, Shem is an active member of the Spartan community. A dedicated athlete, Shem is captain of the Steward cross-country team and also enjoys tennis and weightlifting. As an Admissions Ambassador, he eagerly shares his love of all things Steward with prospective students and their families. In addition, he is community-minded, serving others through his church. Citing Shem’s work ethic, attention to detail, and academic achievements, one of his teachers said, “There really is no one else like Shem.”
Shem is also an entrepreneur and the owner of a unique enterprise: a specialty poultry breeding business, The One Egg to Rule Them All, which he founded a little over a year ago with his mother. Shem, who sells hatching eggs, chicks, ducks, quail, and chickens, not only runs the award-winning business; he shares his expertise with others, giving informal talks to Steward students in Lower School and Middle School, and to the greater Richmond community.
Shem was tending to his chickens when he found out he was chosen as an Impact Scholarship recipient. “My grandma came running out to the shed and told me to call my mom immediately,” he said. “It's impossible to describe how happy I was when she told me. I felt overjoyed that my hard work — getting good grades, leading classmates as we do projects together, and participating in community service — has paid off.”
Asked what he cherishes about The Steward School, Shem said, “The thing I love most is all of the opportunities I have,” said Shem. “And being a Spartan means being able to show who I really am.”
Annika Yaratha ’27 Annika will never forget where she was when she found out she’d been named an Impact Scholar.
“I was at soccer practice and Mrs. Atkinson [Middle School division director] walked onto the field to talk to me. For a second, I thought I was in trouble! She pulled me out of practice and told me to call my parents.” When she heard the good news, Annika recalled, “I was elated that I would be able to stay at Steward with my friends … and create many more memories.”
Annika, who previously served as captain of the Middle School girls soccer team, currently plays for the varsity soccer team. One of her soccer coaches spoke about Annika’s “leadership by example,” adding, “... she plays relentlessly, with energy and focus, and she simply never stops.” He also noted her positive attitude, compassion, and intelligence, which she exhibits both on and off the field. One of her teachers described Annika as someone who faces challenges head-on and is a “phenomenal communicator … whether it is in a persuasive essay or a conversation.”
Annika is also a member of the Diversity Summit Leadership Program at Steward. Last year, she attended the Prejudice Awareness Summit hosted by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC). Each year, VCIC gathers hundreds of students from across Virginia to learn about bias and prejudice and how to address it.
She looks forward to joining the Upper School and the opportunities it offers, including Minimester travel, community service, and leadership. She can’t wait to join Steward’s Leadership Program. “Communication and teamwork skills are important in today's world,” she said. “Being in the Leadership Program will help me to become a better leader on the soccer field, in my classes, and in my future career.”
Congratulations to these two exceptional Spartans!