Aubrey Stewart Project honors students

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Keyser High School principal Lois Spencer (right) congratulates Aubrey Stewart Scholarship recipients Drae Allen and Carlie DelSignore, who had come straight to the awards dinner from her softball game.
Aubrey Stewart Junior Ambassadors Kylie Keplinger and Max Ellifritz pose for a photo with a portrait of Aubrey Stewart, along with a display of his medals.

KEYSER - The Aubrey Stewart Project took the opportunity recently to honor the past as well as look to the future as they held their annual scholarship banquet.

In looking to the past, project founder T.J. Coleman honored Aubrey Stewart himself, who as one of the all-Black infantry division known as the Wereth 11 was tortured and killed in a field in Germany during World War II.

“We honor the selfless sacrifice of a man who loved his country with all his heart and paid the ultimate price for you and me,” Coleman said. “Let us never forget these men.”

Coleman said Stewart, who was from Piedmont, “went from a forgotten soldier to a hero … and has been a light and an inspiration for us all. He was a man I never knew, but I love, respect and admire him so much.”

And just as Coleman founded the Aubrey Stewart Project in the soldier’s name to help promote unity, integrity, compassion and love throughout the area, he started the ambassador and scholarship programs to recognize students in Mineral County who have displayed the characteristics that “Mr. Aubrey” held dear.

The Junior Ambassador program honors middle school age students, and Keyser Middle School West Virginia studies teacher Tommy Nester introduced this year’s recipients - Kylie Keplinger and Max Ellifritz.

“These students embody the characteristics that he carried,” Nester said, noting that both have taken active leadership roles in their class.

“They love to ask questions; they keep me on my toes,” he said. “They are highly motivated and seek to be the best they can be.”

Retired Keyser Police chief Tom Golden, a member of the Aubrey Stewart Project, speaks to the group while founder T.J. Coleman listens.

Keyser High School principal Lois Spencer presented the recipients of the scholarship - Carlie DelSignore and Drae Allen.

“She excels in whatever she does,” Spencer said of DelSignore, adding that she “does it all with a quiet humility and class.”

Coleman said Allen, in winning the scholarship, was making history in that he became the only student to win the Aubrey Stewart Junior Ambassador Award, the Jonah Edward Kelley Award, and now the Aubrey Stewart Scholarship.

“He’s respected by many and admired by most … for his dignity, grace, class and humility,” Coleman said.

Former Keyser police chief and member of the Aubrey Stewart Project Tom Golden also spoke during the program, telling the students that “the minute you stop learning is the minute you stop living.”

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at