Student Determination

Ever Mendez-Barillas and Dr.Bryan Vacchio

Student’s Determination Leads
To High School Graduation

BY DR. BRYAN VACCHIO
Saluda High School Director of Guidance

 
  For those who are ready for some good news....
  This past week was National School Counseling Week, and we certainly felt the love this week from our co-faculty and district leadership. This year‘s slogan was “All In, For All Students,” and how appropriate it was that the shining example of this mantra came by the school yesterday to get a picture with me.
  Ever Mendez-Barillas allowed me to share his story. Not only did Ever struggle academically, but he also struggled with the English language; a huge “double-whammy,” with which so many students have to contend. Ever was unable to graduate in four years. Most across the country drop out once given that news. Nevertheless, Ever returned to Saluda High School for a fifth year.
  Last year, Ever finished one credit short of walking across our football field at graduation. It was I who had to give him that news, with the help of a translator. These conversations will always be the hardest part of my job.
  Ever had every reason to give up. He spent five years in high school, yet didn’t finish. Also, he had a job at Samsung in Newberry, with a salary which would rival the salaries of many.
  Yet, he told me he wanted to finish. At that time, we set up Ever in an online version of his final class. Knowing we were sending him home, only equipped with a Chrome-book, with spotty Wi-Fi, in summer, with very little academic support to tackle a self-paced class, we really did not know how this was going to go.
  Yet, at 10 a.m. on the morning after our graduation ceremony, I received a text from Ever asking me to unlock a test in his online course. I was so proud to get that text, knowing he had every reason to stop. Yet, Ever was determined to finish the job. I received lots of texts from Ever last summer, to either unlock exams or to tell me the course material was getting increasingly difficult. There were several days where Ever left work in Newberry, just to come to the school to receive assistance in navigating the class.
  Thank goodness I had help from Mimi Gallmanand Erika Renteral to assist Ever with language support throughout the summer. By the time August rolled around, Ever had finished 8 of the required 12 units to complete the course.
  Once the new school year started, Ever was able to work with his science teacher, Kate Rohrbach & ESOL teacher, Juan Her-nandez. Ever also received constant encouragement from our administrators, principal Robert Etheredge and Christy Roberts, as well as Meghan Thomas Johnson and Jodi Doolittle  in our counseling department.
  Last month, after six grueling years, Ever Mendez-Barillas finished his final class. He will be walking in June with the Saluda High School graduating class of 2021, having earned a high school diploma... and he’s already gainfully employed.
  These are the stories you don’t read about on a state accountability report card. In fact, a high school score suffers when a student doesn’t graduate in four years.
  However, you can be rest assured, despite what you read or hear on television, there are miracles happening in every school, every day.
  Ever is a testament to that.


1431 County COVID
Cases, 33 Deaths


  Saluda County’s COVID-19  cases have risen to 1431 (1303 actual, 128 probable), with 33 deaths.
  The county had 630.1 cases per 100,000, classified as a high incidence.  Last week, the figure was 772.9   cases per 100,000 with a high incidence rating.
  The number of tests given in Saluda County is 12,985. It should be noted if a Saluda County resident dies of Covid in a neighboring hospital, that death is counted in the neighboring county’s totals.
  Counties neighboring Saluda had the following case totals: Aiken - 11,246,   Edgefield - 2,164;  Greenwood -6,186, Lexington - 22,302; Newberry - 3,409.
  Sun., Feb. 7, 2,228 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by state Department of Health and Environmental Control, with 35 confirmed deaths.
   Positive tests are at 8.8 percent.
  This state total is 412,996, with probable cases  53,377. Confirmed deaths are  6,849, and  802 probable deaths.

COUNCILMEN SWORN IN - The Town of Saluda’s newly re-elected Town Council members Obie Combs, left, and John Mark Griffith, center, were sworn into office Tues., Feb. 2. Also, pictured is Mayor Amelia Herlong. (Town photo)