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South Carolina school student to sit with Obama family

WASHINGTON — Ty'Sheoma Bethea, an eighth-grader at J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, S.C., will sit with President Barack Obama's family tonight when he delivers his first address to Congress.

Ty’Sheoma was invited to sit in First Lady Michelle Obama’s mezzanine box in the House of Representatives chamber, thanks to her recent letter imploring lawmakers to help her crumbling school built in 1896.

Ty’Sheoma's letter made its way to Obama, who campaigned at J.V. Martin in 2007.

Obama cited J.V. Martin two weeks ago in his first presidential news conference as a symbol of decaying schools that would be replaced by funds in his economic-stimulus plan.

"The president and first lady were moved by Ty'Sheoma's heartfelt letter and are looking forward to welcoming her to D.C.," said Gannet Tseggai, a White House spokeswoman.

"For too long, students like Ty'Sheoma have been learning in crumbling buildings with outdated texts and in desperate need of the critical tools to compete in the 21st century economy," Tseggai said.

Ty'Sheoma walked to the Dillon town library to write her letter because her family didn't have a computer.

"People are starting to see my school as a hopeless, uneducated school, which we are not," she wrote. "We finally want to prove to the world that we have a chance in life just like other schools, and we can feel good about what we are doing, because of the conditions we are in now we can not succeed in anything."

Ty'Sheoma's mother, Dina Leach, will accompany her to Washington and attend Obama's address with her, Tseggai said.

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