Henrico establishes scholarship fund in honor of Thornton, O’Bannon

Frank Thornton

Former Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton

Henrico County, with the nonprofit Henrico Education Foundation and a host of donors, has established a scholarship fund to honor former longtime supervisors Frank Thornton and Pat O’Bannon, who concluded 28 years of service when their terms ended Dec. 31.

The fund, supported solely through private donations, is expected to provide annual scholarships of $5,000 to two Henrico County Public Schools seniors who embody values that Thornton and O’Bannon have exhibited throughout their service. Both were first elected in 1995 and took office in 1996. Thornton became Henrico’s first Black supervisor; O’Bannon was its first woman to serve. Each was elected by their colleagues six times to serve as board chairman.

“The scholarship fund is a wonderful way to recognize Mr. Thornton’s and Mrs. O’Bannon’s 28 years of outstanding service to Henrico County,” Henrico Deputy County Manager for Community Affairs Monica L. Smith-Callahan said. “It will honor their legacies as pioneers in local government and advocates for education and will create a lasting impact, by helping scholarship recipients continue their studies and perhaps forge their own trails in public service.”

Former Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon

Thornton, who represents the Fairfield District and is a retired professor of French at Virginia Union University, has championed for vulnerable communities and equitable access to housing, education, health care and employment. The scholarship in his name will be awarded to a senior who has shown leadership through advocacy for social issues.

O’Bannon, who represents the Tuckahoe District and whose career included time as an English teacher and in communications, has shown a passion for education, community engagement and government transparency. The scholarship in her name will honor a senior who has shown a commitment to their community through service and who plans to pursue a career in public policy or administration, communications or education.

Smith-Callahan surprised the longtime supervisors when she announced the scholarship fund at a Dec. 8 reception held in their honor. Twelve corporate and individual donors contributed or pledged a total of $62,500 to establish the fund and to kick off the fundraising effort. Tax deductible donations may be made online or sent by mail to Henrico Education Foundation, P.O. Box 31413, Henrico, VA 23294. Checks should be payable to the Henrico Education Foundation and include “Board of Supervisors Scholarship Fund” in the memo.

HCPS high school seniors will be able to apply for the scholarships beginning in January through an online portal of the Henrico Education Foundation. A five-person committee will review the applications and essays and will select the first recipients by late spring.

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