More than two years after Ty'Sheoma Bethea pleaded with Congress to fix up her South Carolina school, officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building, and the former student returned to her hometown to help celebrate what she made possible.
"I am proud to say, Dillon County, we did it, because we are not quitters," said the 16-year-old Bethea. "We all did it."
In 2009, Bethea, then an eighth grader at J.V. Martin Junior High, sent letters to South Carolina's congressmen asking for help, noting other schools she visited had far better facilities. President Barack Obama recounted her plea in a speech to Congress as Bethea sat beside Michelle Obama as their guest.
Bethea wrote the letter as Congress debated putting aside money in the stimulus package specifically for school construction, which didn't make the final cut
"It seems like just yesterday I was walking down the hallway of J.V. Martin, thinking to myself, we need and deserve better," said Bethea, now a student at a high school in Riverdale, Ga., outside Atlanta, where her mother moved to find work.