Old school where Obama campaigned gets new look

DILLON, S.C. — When Teessance Mills, 10, entered her 113-year-old classroom at J.V. Martin Junior High School, the usually quiet and shy girl clapped her hands and jumped up and down as she circled the room, touching the new desks and chairs.

Her teacher, Frankie Camp, was surprised by Teessance's bold reaction to the new furniture and couldn't hold back the tears.

"She's usually so quiet. She's so excited," Camp said. "This lets our kids know that somebody cares."

Monday, J.V. Martin's 500 students arrived at school to find their old, rickety desks and chairs, most of which were 40 years old, replaced with new, top-of-the-line ones designed with 21st century education standards in mind. The cafeteria was also remodeled with new furniture and paint during the weekend.

Sagus International Inc., a Chicago-based furniture company, hauled 1,152 pieces of furniture to the school over the weekend. A crew of Sagus workers and school staffers spent the weekend painting and setting up new, lightweight chairs with lower back support, new desks with adjustable legs and heavy duty hooks for fully loaded book bags, and new cafeteria tables and stools all on wheels for easy mobility.

It's a $250,000 gift to the school, which has gained notoriety in recent years because of its inclusion in "The Corridor of Shame" documentary about the poor condition of schools along Interstate 95. A letter one of its students, Ty'Sheoma Bethea, wrote to President Barack Obama about the need for a new J.V. Martin put the school back in the spotlight. A building where the school's gifted and talented students and special education students attend class is 113 years old.

"When I came in this morning, I didn't know which desk I should sit at," Ty'Sheoma, 14, said Monday. "They were all so nice."


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