Legacy of a ‘Quiet Hero’ Continues at St. Edmund Prep With the Steven H. Pollard Memorial Scholarship

Ziaire Hope and Sienna James with members of the Ladder Company 170. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

SHEEPSHEAD BAY — Five years ago, firefighter Steven Pollard responded to a call on the Mill Basin Bridge and, in an attempt to save the lives of two car crash victims, died in the line of duty. In his honor, St. Edmund Preparatory School, where he graduated in 2006, has looked to keep his legacy alive. 

Now, they have found a way to do so, while simultaneously supporting their students.

Two St. Edmund Prep juniors have been honored with the inaugural Steven H. Pollard ’06 Memorial Scholarship. Ziaire Hope and Sienna James, the two awardees, were chosen as recipients because of their roles as “quiet leaders of the building,” said Allison McGinnis, the school’s principal, a title often bestowed upon Pollard.

“When you are in a high school, you get kids that are loud and always heard. Then you have kids that aren’t as loud and aren’t always heard, but are just as extraordinary as the ones that get heard,” McGinnis said.

Half of each student’s senior year tuition will be paid for with the scholarship, established with a $150,000 gift from the Steven H. Pollard Memorial Foundation. The students were chosen by faculty, and both share a personal connection with Pollard. Hope lives in Canarsie, where Pollard lived and where his company, Ladder 170, is based, and James’ father is a firefighter. 

Firefighter Steven Pollard (Photo: Courtesy of New York City Fire Department)

The students were honored at a reception on Thursday, April 18, at St. Edmund Prep, where their families were joined by dozens of firefighters who served alongside Pollard.

“He was known as ‘the Quiet Hero.’ He was just a real quiet guy, but really dependable,” said Bob Kittelberger, a lieutenant in the Ladder Company 170.

“He was just a wonderful guy — I miss him very much. His family will never forget him. We will never forget him. And we don’t want the kids who come through St. Edmund’s to ever forget him,” he added.

On Jan. 6, 2019, Pollard was critically injured after slipping in a gap between the lanes on the Mill Basin Bridge along the Belt Parkway. He joined the FDNY in 2017 and was a parishioner at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. He is survived by his parents, Janet and Raymond, and his brother, Raymond, an 11-year veteran of Ladder Company 114 in Sunset Park.

Pollard’s family came to the reception and were given an award alongside the recipients in thanks for their son’s service.

“It’s bittersweet of course, coming to something like this, but it’s really nice that he’s going to be remembered by two great young people and I think they are perfect choices for the award,” said Janet Pollard, his mother.

Ziaire Hope is awarded with a plaque commemorating his scholarship. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

Hope and James did not know much about Pollard and his tragic death until they were awarded the scholarship. Yet, when evaluating which two students would be chosen as recipients, it was seen that each junior shared several traits with Pollard. 

“I’ve heard from many stories that he was a great guy, even though he was in the background. He made his mark by doing just the little things,” Hope said.

Most notable are the similarities in work ethic and success while not drawing attention to themselves, said McGinnis. Hope is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, and is a member of the Junior Committee, the St. Edmund Prep Ambassadors, and is the student director of this year’s musical production. 

Sienna James is awarded with a plaque commemorating her scholarship. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

James is also a member of the Junior Committee, is largely responsible for planning the junior prom, and is a St. Edmund Prep Ambassador.

“I think it’s really amazing that this many people are here to celebrate him and who he was because it just shows how much support he had in his life, and how many people still love him, even though he passed away,” James said.

Furthermore, all share an affinity for sports. James is a swimmer, as well as a softball and volleyball player, and Hope is a swimmer, joining the team his freshman year despite not knowing how to swim. Pollard was a hockey player. 

Father Mark Amatrucola, the director of strategic planning at St. Edmund Prep, was Pollard’s computer science teacher, remembering him as always being “even-keeled.” After going on a retreat with Hope, and learning more about James, he knows they were for the perfect choices for the awards.

“Both are very, very good kids and what a great opportunity to have them be recognized. I think it’s special to do that while they are still students here, instead of giving them a scholarship on the way out the door. I think it allows them to step up now and be a good example in their senior year,” Father Amatrucola said.

Prayer for Firefighters

Almighty God, protector of all mankind,

Your strength, power and wisdom are a beacon of light to all.

Give special guidance to firefighters so that they may be protected from harm while performing their duty.

Help them with your loving care while they work to save the lives and property of all people, young and old.

Give them the courage and alertness to protect their neighbors and all others whom they are pledged to aid when involved in fire or accident.