Dinner honors Dillon eighth-grader

MYRTLE BEACH — Ty’Sheoma Bethea is getting used to the spotlight.

And she brought some of her star power to Myrtle Beach on Tuesday for a special dinner at the Dunes Club with a resident who wanted to honor her.

The 14-year-old eighth-grader from Dillon wrote to Congress, describing the deteriorating state of her campus at J.V. Martin Junior High School, and asking for help to modernize it. Eventually, her letter made its way to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Her report on its decrepit state and her inspiring words about how she and her fellow students are not quitters and just want to get the best possible education brought an invitation to Washington, D.C., last week to sit in the Senate gallery with First Lady Michelle Obama while the president presented his first address to a joint session of Congress.

Since then, Ty’Sheoma has been on “Good Morning America,” CNN, ABC, and “Inside Edition.”

“It was very exciting to meet a man with so much power,” she said Tuesday night when asked about meeting the first couple in Washington.

The quiet girl said she hopes to be president someday.

She and her mother, Dina Leach, two school friends and 11 teachers from J.V. Martin came to the Grand Strand for a dinner hosted by Tulantsa Caroll, a Dunes Club resident whose niece works at the school.

Caroll learned Ty’Sheoma had to ask her principal for the money for a stamp to mail and that members of the community pitched in to provide clothes for Ty’Sheoma’s trip to Washington. And Caroll visited Bethea’s school last week.

The campus, built in the late 1800s, is not in good shape, Caroll said, but the students and teachers keep doing their best, despite the conditions surrounding them.

“I just fell in love with all of them,” Caroll said.

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes presented Ty’Sheoma with a city coin — like a key to the city — for distinguished people. Rhodes praised her for her initia-tive, not only in trying to help her school but the state of education in South Carolina.

The president has written Ty’Sheoma a short note thanking her for her “moving letter,” and promised to do his best to im-prove education and schools for all children.

With her recognition Ty’Sheoma said, “I want to use it to change he world.”