DILLON, SC (WMBF) - J.V. Martin Junior High was the epitome of the 'Corridor of Shame,' but a letter from teen Ty'Sheoma Bethea and a loan from the federal government made building a new school possible.
In President Obama's first speech to Congress, he recounted the powerful letter that Bethea wrote pleading for help to fix up her dilapidated school. Then in eighth grade, Bethea sat next to Michelle Obama as their guest. Today, the 17 year old sat in the brand new gymnasium of Dillon Middle School, and saw her dream become a reality.
"I felt like it was my part to write a letter for me and my peers to get the education we need to have a successful life," explains Bethea, a senior now.
She is proud of her new school.
"I see the smiles on the students face and I know they're feeling it, too, and know that they can actually be successful in life, that they can become these great leaders, and presidents, and congressman, that I always envisioned that they can be," added Bethea
Her dream didn't just affect Dillon Middle School. With a grant and a low-interest loan, the county is able to update the school systems in all 3 cities, including Lake View. An Early Education Childhood Center will be opening in Latta this December.
"I've been doing this for 24 years and this has always been a dream. And here it is today, and its operating," says Richard Schafer, Chairman of Dillon County Board of Education.
A representative from Washington was at Thursday's Dedication Ceremony and credits Bethea with building the foundation for this reality.
"I think Ms.Bethea's letter shows that an individual can have an impact, that the Executive Branch is listening, that we monitor closely the items that folks send, letters or email, telephone. And that there can be action from the input," says Doug McKalip, the Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council
While President Obama was unable to attend Thursday's Dedication, Bethea expects a conference call from him tomorrow. In the mean time, she is still not done motivating her peers.
"I have a new single, its called Swurve On and basically it motivates kids to do positive things," says Bethea, " I thought the best way to get a message to them was through music."