Corona senior Jessie Briggs is the first recipient
of the Blake Norvell “Smiles” Scholarship,
symbolizing the beginning of a lifelong
honor to the man who left a mark on all those who
Briggs was recently chosen by the scholarship
committee—which included Norvell’s mother
Stephanie, father Bill, sister Juliana, girlfriend
Briana, friend Maycie Thornton and others—from
among a slew of candidates.
Norvell, known for his welcoming, contagious
personality, his accomplishments and his spirited,
unrelenting love for Corona, was remembered by
family and friends who felt the scholarship was an
ideal way to honor his passing.
“We based our decision on academics,
community service and, most importantly,
leadership qualities that we saw in Jessie’s
application,” Thornton said.
“We also asked students to include a
recommendation from a teacher and to write a “rap”
about why they love Corona, which impacted our decision.
We really felt like Jessie’s positive energy radiated through
her application, and she reminded us all of Blake.”
Recipient Briggs said she couldn’t be more humbled.
“I had no idea I was going to win the scholarship,”
Briggs said. “My mom encouraged me to fill out the
application, but after a month went by I figured I would
have heard by then, so I started to forget about it.”
Family and friends of Norvell arrived at Corona on
April 11, ready with an oversized check, flowers and big
smiles to surprise Briggs with the news.
“I thought I was in trouble,” Briggs said. “They called
me out of class and the security guard said, ‘Well, this must
be important because it involves the principal. My mind
was racing: what could I have possibly done?”
To her amazement, just the opposite was awaiting her.
“Once I got down to the office there were all these
people, including my mom, with flowers and a big $1,000
check addressed to me,” Briggs said. “I’m sure I looked
embarrassed because I was so surprised. It was such a fun
Briggs added: “It’s such an honor to be recognized for
embodying similar characteristics to Blake’s.”
The “Smile” scholarship will be awarded annually to a