Students honored for turning lives around
The tears, gasps and expressions sweetened each round of applause.
The Berkeley County School District recognized and awarded 26 middle and high school students from across the district at the 15th annual Turnaround Achievement Awards luncheon April 25 at the Berkeley Country Club.
Many of these students come from impoverished, broken homes. Their stories are extraordinary, as they appeared to go from zero to 100, making vast improvements at school and at home.
The stories were all compelling, some harrowing. Students were called to the stage with their principal or school representative and received a plaque from Deputy Superintendent Archie Franchini.
Each was given a chance to speak. Some thanked their teachers, parents, friends and supporters, while most shied away. Some shed tears and became short of breath from being overcome with emotion as they stepped to the podium.
Students received a monetary award from the district along with a pen and journal. BCSD Community Relations Director Amy Kovach told students the day of the turnaround luncheon would be their first journal entry.
“If you didn’t have a tear in your eyes for some of these you’ve got a hard heart,” Franchini said.
LaShayla Solomon came to Berkeley Alternative School last year as a seventh grader with a history of discipline issues. As one of eight children, she attributes that disruptive behavior to immaturity and various challenges she has confronted in her personal life.
LaShayla credits her improved behavior to growing up, encouragement from her older brother, support from her parents, and the loss of her beloved great grandmother who encouraged LaShayla to improve.
As an eighth grader, LaShayla is taking four high school classes and will complete the alternative program in May before beginning high school next year. She has had no discipline problems this year and is on the A/B honor roll.
Before this school year Cross High’s Qwantavious Felder had a nonchalant attitude about schoolwork. He did not care about studying.
He now possesses the ultimate "can do" attitude while taking on all tasks with positive energy and a smile. His upbeat personality and engaging personal style enables him to interact effectively with students and teachers.
Qwantavious takes the initiative to go beyond the expected parameters of a student. He has excelled in many roles including as a student and an athlete. In his course work, he produces a high volume of work while maintaining high standards for quality and accuracy.
At the age of two, current Berkeley Middle College student Patrick Peterson and his siblings were removed from his mother’s care and were taken to live with his grandmother. They moved frequently. Patrick attended 10 schools in four states. Patrick has dealt with hunger and the stress of caring for a younger brother and sister. He remembers feeling responsible for making sure the young children had food.
Often there was enough for them but not for him. He became a ward of the state, living in a foster home before being separated from his siblings and being assigned to a group home.
As a young teen he met an individual who helped him understand the strength that comes from faith. He realized he could become an advocate for himself and his future.
He called his aunt and uncle in South Carolina and asked to live with them. For several years they have provided him with a safe, supportive, loving home. When Patrick first visited Berkeley Middle College his last name was King. He recently became Patrick Peterson when his aunt and uncle legally adopted him.
Patrick applied to the Middle College two years ago, realizing academic success would help him toward his goal of becoming an engineer. He is vice president of the Beta Club and a member of the National Honor Society.
He is on track to earn the 38 semester hours of transferrable college credit, works the Berkeley Country Club, and will join the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel next fall as a member of the Class of 2017, with a life scholarship.
After a history of disciplinary incidents and conflicts with peers and members of the school’s faculty, the behavior, attitude, and academic performance of Timberland High’s Teqan White improved tremendously.
His overall grade point average skyrocketed 10 points. With the help of credit recovery, he has earned five credits in the fall and is on track to earning four in the spring.
He has had no disciplinary issues this year. He is a member of the track team and his coach is impressed with his manners and maturity. He is on track to graduate next year and will be in a position to excel in many areas in the years to come.