HTC honored 50 Horry County Schools’ students during the 13th Annual REEL Kids Awards at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes on Thursday.

These 50 students have proven themselves through scholastic, athletic and community achievements in the face of recent obstacles or extenuating circumstances and have been recognized by their schools as winners of the HTC REEL Kids (Recognizing Extraordinary Examples of Leadership) award. Here’s a look at the winners from Carolina Forest area schools.

AAST | Kendra Jackson

She was nominated by her school counselor, Tonya Pickett.

Kendra Jackson is an awesome student. For years she has had to take responsibility for herself.

She has not let her circumstances dictate her success. The struggles of her family life have made her stronger with the assistance of her guardian family.

She has managed to earn good grades, hold a job, and make herself “four-year College” ready. I am proud of her accomplishments.

Black Water Middle | Matthew Floyd

He was nominated by his assistant principal, Robert Hamby. Matthew Floyd, known by his friends as Matt, is a model student. Even though he joined the football team after the season started, he became a captain and team leader.

All of his teachers comment on his strong work ethic, exceptional manners and humble nature.

Matt witnesed his father die unexpectedly and has helped his mother by looking after and serving as a role model for multiple younger siblings.

Even though Matt faces difficult obstacles, he always has a positive attitude.

Carolina Forest Elementary | Catherine Cruz

She was nominated by her teacher, Kristen Nye.

Catherine Cruz is a very courageous girl.

She was born in the United States while her mother was visiting on a visa from Honduras.

Her mother is not a U.S. citizen and had to return to Honduras once her visa expired. Catherine is a U.S. citizen because she was born in New York City.

The South American government told Catherine’s mother if she paid a certain amount of money, Catherine could stay in Honduras until she was 10.

Her family complied and paid the government. Thus, mother and child are related, but separated by citizenship.

Catherine is now 10 and has been deported back to the U.S. She has to stay here until she is 21 years old.

Her mother is not permitted to visit nor obtain a visa for the U.S., but Catherine can visit her mother. When she turns 21, her mother may escort her back to Honduras where she can apply for citizenship.

She is currently a fifth grade student at Carolina Forest Elementary School and lives with her aunt and uncle.

Catherine is a very bright young lady who is determined to achieve the As she earned in Honduras.

Each day she arrives to school with an amazingly positive spirit, bright smile and eagerness to learn English and succeed.

She has set very high expectations for herself and demonstrates this through her fortitude to speak, read, and write in English.

Catherine actively participates in class and asks for clarification if she is having difficulty understanding a word, concept, or skill.

She understands the importance of education and wants to continue to thrive academically.

Most of her teachers and classmates are unaware of her situation because of her perseverance, amazing strength and character.

Each day she overcomes a language barrier while enduring a tremendous separation from her father, mother and siblings who are all citizens of Honduras.

Catherine’s positive attitude, courageous conduct and desire for academic success despite her circumstances are a true testament of the character of a REEL Kid.

Carolina Forest High | Darrell Knight

He was nominated by his teacher, Vicki Carey.

Darrell Knight walking across the stage in June this year is nothing short of a miracle in many ways.

He has made tremendous strides over the past several years, and he’s overcome many obstacles to achieve success.

As a young child, Darrell struggled with developmental and emotional challenges. He attended special schools for most of his life to address his individual needs.

When Darrell first met the faculty and principals at Carolina Forest High School, many people from his past warned the school that Darrell “would not last a week” at the 2,000-plus-student high school.

The large, spread-out campus with so many students would be overwhelming, they said, and he would need to go to a smaller school which might be better suited to his needs. Darrell had other plans, however.

He struggled at first.

His behavior was often erratic and unpredictable. While his behavior would sometime seem out of control, he never turned his emotions or behavioral outbursts toward anyone else—only toward himself.

Darrell had an adult support for the first full year of his high school career. A specially trained coach at the school accompanied Darrell to classes and help him when he was stressed.

Over time, however, Darrell began to show that he could control his stress levels and manage his emotions.

His behavior improved so much that incrementally the adult support was able to give Darrell more and more independence until Darrell eventually no longer needed his help to remain in control of his behavior.

Darrell became friendly with the other coaches in the school and began to assist with their activities.

He started working with the supervisor of the maintenance department and learned skills for environmental service management.

He grew from a withdrawn, quiet boy to an outgoing, friendly, and confident young man.

Faculty and other students find Darrell’s friendly smile and outgoing nature engaging, and he has made many close friends at Carolina Forest High School.

Darrell is a prime example of a student who has overcome tremendous obstacles in life with a positive attitude and a generous heart.

“As his teacher, I have learned to have faith in students who struggle like Darrell has,” Carey said. “He has shown me that every student must be nurtured and supported and allowed to flourish like our Darrell has. We’re so proud of this young man.”

Forestbrook Elementary | Elijaha Hairston

He was nominated by his teacher, Audrea Phillips.

Forestbrook Elementary is proud to nominate the new Elijaha Hairston as our HTC REEL Kid. 

The old Elijaha came to us last year after several schools.  Although he got into trouble for various actions, he won the hearts of many with his infectious smile and wide-open, winning personality. 

As he entered fifth grade, he decided to “get rid of the old Elijaha and replace him with a new Elijaha.” 

The new Elijaha loves learning.  His eagerness to participate in class discussions and explain his thinking strategies is reflected in his improved grades and his absence from ISS (in school suspension).  His participation in church (he loves to sing) and recreation center basketball add another dimension to his life. 

When asked to explain how he has made such a change, he says, “My new ways are better than my old ways.  My mama is helping me get to the place I want to be.”

Forestbrook Middle | Ezra Tribble

He was nominated by his teacher, Caryne Johnson.

As an eighth grader in his TMD class, Ezra Tribble has proven to be a mentor and leader for the sixth and seventh graders in class. Ezra has excellent manners, treats others with respect. He leads the way in our school recycling program.

Out of school, he is active in church and is a talented singer and drummer.

He has been learning the keyboard as well. He’s also participated in the Myrtle Beach Miracle League for 10 years.

Ocean Bay Elementary | Tyron Bennett

He was nominated by his teacher, Nicole Williams.

Last year, Tyron Bennett’s younger sister was killed in an automobile accident.

In spite of these circumstances, Tyron has maintained a positive attitude that spreads to everyone with whom he comes in contact.

He always enters the classroom with a huge smile on his face. He is always willing to help others.

Tyron will volunteer to hold the door and he takes the initiative to pick up materials that are on the floor.

Tyron is well-mannered and always does his personal best. He is actively involved in classroom discussions and perseveres when concepts are difficult.

Tyron is an amazing child who deserves to be honored.

Ocean Bay Middle | Emily Hoffman

She was nominated by her teacher, Shauna Yane.

“Every day Emily Hoffman wows me,” Yane said. “She never ceases to amaze me from how hard she works in the classroom to how dedicated she is with not allowing anyone to treat her differently because of her disability.”

Emily has cerebral palsy and has a difficult time getting around. Recently, she had a very difficult surgery that kept her out of school for almost three months.

However, while she was out she not only worked hard on getting better, but she also worked very hard to keep up with all her school work.

When Emily returned to school in January, she was just as determined to be successful as before.

Emily works hard to overcome every obstacle in her life.

She still struggles to get around but with each day she is improving. In addition to cerebral palsy, Emily was also adopted and came to America from Russia at four years old.

She had to learn English and conquered that in six months with the basics. She is fluent in English today.

“I look up to Emily for all she has been through and all that she will go through,” Yane said. “She always remains positive about life and wears a smile. “

River Oaks Elementary | Tyleek Williams

He was nominated by his school counselor, Cassandra Beale.

Over a year ago, Tyleek Williams’ mom passed away, and his grandparents are raising him.

He has worked hard this school year in the classroom. He has earned all As and Bs on his report card and received a certificate for honor roll.

He gets along well with his classmates and is a role model for his younger sister. He is very kind hearted and fun to be around.

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