by Ashley Ross
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Existing all too often in the shadows of headlines depicting youth violence, poor academics and negativity, are the untold stories of area teens providing a light of hope in the Pittsburgh community. It’s a stark disparity in media coverage Orlana Darkins Drewery and her husband, Darnell Drewery, are trying to overcome, through the annual Shyne Awards, which celebrate young adults for their positive achievements.
|CO-FOUNDERS—Orlana Darkins Drewery and Darnell Drewery pose for a photo on the red carpet. (Photos by J. L. Martello)
“Students who are on the right track, doing the right things, who have their goals in line, we often push them to the side taking for granted they’re supposed to do that,” said Drewery.
She credits her husband, Darnell, with the original concept for the Shyne Awards, which the two have now executed for the last six years.
“Our answer was to create a public platform where it is a premiere awards show where young people are a star even if it’s just for one night,” she said.
This year’s Shyne Awards honorees received nothing less than the star treatment Saturday, Aug. 25, arriving in a stretch limo onto a plush red carpet outside the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Decked out in semi-formal attire, the teens were then whisked inside for one-on-one interviews with Comcast cable, which will feature each student on their On Demand menu over the next several weeks.
As the auditorium filled with family, friends and supporters, no awards show would be complete without a marquee host to entertain the crowd. This year’s guest was none other than Pooch Hall, who is most recognized for his role as Derwin Davis on BET’s hit show “The Game.”
Throughout the program nine 2012 honorees were celebrated in different categories ranging from academics and leadership to entrepreneurship and overcoming obstacles.
Those who received honors include: Destiny Hall, Academics; Deja Troy Hopkins, Renaissance; Stephanie Jimenez, The Arts; Taylor Jones, Community Service; Bria Marie Petite, Leadership; Joshua Manley-Lee, Overcoming Obstacles; Kimberly Lewis, Overcoming Obstacles; Amber Liggett, Entrepreneurship; and Felecia McFarlane, Service In Ministry.
“Whenever I received my letter (Shyne Awards letter) it was very emotional for me because it was like a light at the end of a dark tunnel,” said 16-year-old Destiny Hall, who received the 2012 Shyne Award for Academics.
As a rising junior at Allderdice High School and who has maintained a 3.7 GPA through the engineering program, she says, “I’ve been going through a lot right now but for somebody to see the good things that I’m doing it means way more than just a trophy, it’s recognition.”
“This is just one amazing night,” exclaimed 17-year-old Hopkins, who received the first Renaissance honor.
Hopkins attended her first Shyne Awards at age 11 and remarks her life has never been the same since.
“After that I started doing better in school, I tried to get high honor roll status, and right now I have a 4.3 GPA.”
Hopkins also regularly volunteers and is involved in ministry at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church.
“I just want to inspire other young people to want to get out there, get good grades, and volunteer also,” she said.
Similar goals shared by Petite, the 2012 Shyne Awards Leadership winner. A recent graduate of Brashear High School, Petite now attends the Pittsburgh Art Institute. In her free time Petite is actively involved in the Pittsburgh Youth Leaders Academy and several other organizations through which she has raised money for non-profits and the needy.
“Just to see other people around me that don’t have the same things that I do, it kind of hurts me that people aren’t helping out and caring,” she said.
“I’m very honored tonight and I just want to thank the Darkins Group, my friends, my family, my mentors and my leaders, for pushing me to do this quality work that I’ve done it’s been a blessing.”
The awards show was also interspersed with several performances by past Shyne Awards honorees and talent showcase winners. The program opened and closed with energetic dance routines by IAS Contemporary Dance Company, a group created and choreographed by 2007 Shyne Awards recipient Kontara Morphis. 2009 Shyne Award winner DeVaughn Robinson performed a monologue from an August Wilson play and 2012 Shyne Awards Talent Showcase Winner Jasmine Gray sang a powerful rendition of the gospel song “Take Me to the King.”
The New Pittsburgh Courier also received special honors as the recipient of the 2012 Shyne “Movement Award” for fair and balanced coverage of young adults in the Pittsburgh community.
“There’s a movement starting here in this auditorium,” exclaimed Editor and Publisher Rod Doss, who accepted the award on behalf of the paper.
“We have a staff that’s committed, dedicated and purposeful in terms of what they see their job being and that is to showcase the positive side of the community.”