February 25th, 2009
05:30 AM ET
6 years ago

South Carolina student becomes face of stimulus package

South Carolina student Ty'Sheoma Bethea was invited to the speech after she wrote a letter to lawmakers.
South Carolina student Ty'Sheoma Bethea was invited to the speech after she wrote a letter to lawmakers.

(CNN) – Her school has become a symbol of the kind of crumbling infrastructure that President Obama hopes his stimulus bill will improve.

But on Tuesday, Ty'Sheoma Bethea became the face of the issue, when she joined first lady Michelle Obama as her guest for the president's first speech to a joint session of Congress.

The White House invited Ty'Sheoma, a student at the J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, South Carolina, after a letter she sent lawmakers appealing for help rebuilding her school made its way to the president.

The eighth-grader reportedly boarded her first plane with her mother, Dina Leach, from South Carolina to Washington to attend the speech.

The eighth-grader was inspired to write the letter by Obama, who mentioned her school in his first presidential news conference on February 9. After visiting the school, he referenced J.V. Martin as evidence of educational institutions that would benefit from school construction funding in his $787 billion stimulus package.

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Filed under: Obama address
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Deborah Black

    Her Governor is trying to make sure none of the money from the stimulus goes to help the schools or the people. Like most from his party he is only interested in taking the money that would serve the rich, like building some big sports arena or something. I agree that the States should have to take all the money and spend it as it is intended to help the economy, or stick to their neo con guns and don't take any of it.

    February 25, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Karen- PROUD OF MY PRESIDENT

    I can't imagine what this school is going through. UNREAL. And this is suppose to be the greatest country in the world. There is no way a child here in America should have to feel like there are in the schools of Africa. I'm ashamed to be an American.

    February 25, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There is much that the stimulus bill is planned to do. Helping schools is a great place to do that. I just hope that the school gets fixed up. We have a very physical culture; we put emphasis on the physical competition (like sports) over intellectual challenges. About the only game show that shows of your intelligence in Jeopardy. We need to have a shift in what we value; intelligence over physical strength. That could be one way to get us out of this kind of problem. It would also be a lead to ending problems of run down schools.

    February 25, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Dawn

    The Governor of South Carolina should listen to the people, most schools are out dated, and in dire need of repair or rebuild.

    I applaud her and her guts to do what is right for her and wanting to get a good education.

    February 25, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Toni

    Business, Government and everyday people need to fix our schools and pay our teachers. We need it for our economic future and to save our souls.

    February 25, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Obamacrat

    I hope SC Governor Sanford knows how ridiculous he now looks for suggesting that he may refuse some of the stim money. Leaky roofs in a school....what a shame.

    February 25, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Mari

    This story was so touching and inspiring! Just shows us all, what a thoughtful letter can do!

    BRAVO Ty'Sheoma! Bravo! Come one Congress, our Nation's children deserve and need the BEST schools in the world!

    Without an educated populace we will not be a world leader for long!

    February 25, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Allison

    I missed the speech, I was working late. But i did hear that Obama and his writers did very well.

    Repairing neglected schools is a great cause and I support it!

    I there a way to have some of this paid by taxes on the gains, the profits, on the sale of people's homes? When someone's home appreciated $200,000 in California or Florida and they sold it to move to Texas, Utah, New Mexico etc. they have cash to spend and that has driven up our home prices. The local builders made huge profits with those cash laden shoppers from housing bubble states and local buyers could not compete for those new homes. Now the market has crashed and the locals who did not profit from the bubble will pay for those mistakes with increased taxes.

    Taxing the Profit on the sale of a home should at least contribute to paying for this bailout, new schools and deficit spending!

    February 25, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Linda in MS

    I am sure this comment, along with several others I have posted lately will be ignored by the moderators, but I'll keep writing anyway.
    I am so heartened to see this child be recognized for her efforts. Too many young people who are trying and doing the right thing are overlooked in our society today. It's a great thing to see young people who care about their educations getting involved in the process. Hers is but one of the thousands of old and deteriorating schools around the nation, a sign of our lack of concern for our children and our future.
    Of course, I am sure the nasty people out there will again criticise this child because of her name, or imply that her race gives her privilege with the First Lady. But for any one with a heart, that child's face and demeanor is enough to say it's time for putting more money into our public schools. She like all of our children, deserves better.

    February 25, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Shari, NY

    South Carolina is one of if not the poorest state in the union. Not only are the schools in bad shape but you should see the Amtrak stations along the corridor – no sales booth, no security. Shame on those who are in charge of the state's affairs!!!!

    February 25, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Scott, Tucson

    Darn! I would like to have seen that gal who said to the news cameras that she no longer have to worry about paying for her car, house and nor creditor payments now that Obama is her president.

    February 25, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Red Beans and Rice ....

    Our 1st lady's love and admirataion for her husband makes her more radiant and attractive every time I see her and she was all of that on Tuesday evening.

    The royal color of purple becomes her very well.

    I've long been the type of guy that would gush over Salma, Halle, Alicia or Faith (Hill). In Mrs. Obama, I see elements of physical beauty but also elements that will transcend time.

    Better watch us Mr. President. We might try to pluck a hair out of her head and clone her!

    February 25, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |

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