2017 6th – 8th Grade Winners

Dyamond Martin

Dyamond Martin

Academy of Hope – 8th grade
Nominated by her teacher, Jennifer Chapman

Dyamond Martin suffered through a very unstable and tramatic childhood. “After a long process, Dyamond was released from foster care and came to SC to live with her maternal Aunt. With much love and a strong support system, Dyamond slowly began blossoming again. Now she is a leader and role model for other students.  Dyamond is a kind person and has no problem offering help to others.  When she needs help, she is not afraid to ask.  Dyamond’s studies are very important to her, which is seen through her determination to learn new things. She has pushed through her shyness and stepped out of her comfort zone in many aspects. Because of Dyamond’s hard work, dedication, and determination to overcome obstacles that are in her path, Dyamond has been selected to attend Early College High School in the fall. Dyamond is a true example of a REEL kid!”

Kyleigh Dean

Kyleigh Dean

Aynor Middle School – 7th grade
Nominated by her teacher, John Morello

“Kyleigh Dean is a 7th grade student at Aynor Middle School who wrestles every day, both on and off the mat.  On the mat, she easily defeats one opponent after another, collecting more than 100 trophies.  Off the mat, her biggest challenge is a rare genetic disorder known as congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL).  This disease is so rare that it afflicts only one in every 10 million people. On top of having to get 1,500 units of insulin every day, travelling to the National Institute of Health in MD every few weeks for a week’s stay, Kaleigh not only manages to stay on top of her wrestling, she also manages to stay on our A/B honor roll every quarter.  She is a leader in her class, a role model in her sport and an inspiration to kids everywhere.”

CJ Rabon

C.J. Rabon

Black Water Middle School – 7th grade
Nominated by his teacher, Mary Wilkinson

“CJ Rabon is one of the most polite, well-mannered young men, I have ever met.  Despite tremendous loss early in life, he expresses extreme gratitude for the people who stepped in to raise him and considers himself to be lucky.  He is a great student, role model, and athlete who loves any outdoor activity.  He’s truly an amazing young man.” 

Ryan Beall

Ryan Beall

Conway Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by his teacher, Jill Feldner

“Ryan lost his Father at the beginning of the school year to cancer, yet he never let this change is positive outlook.  Ryan who has his own learning challenges, always found ways to help others.  About midway through the school year Ryan begin to create “how to” book to help other middle schoolers adjust and succeed in middle school.  He filled his book full of tips, notes, illustrations and advice he felt would be helpful to other students.  These life lessons he wanted to share with others to help everyone enjoy and be a successful middle school student. Overall Ryan is an excellent person that always wants to help others.  He exemplifies what a REEL kid is and how despite life’s challenges, there is always someone else that you can help.

Julia Plemmons

Julia Plemmons

Forestbrook Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by her school counselor, Amy Ayers

“When I met Julia she was struggling with regards to her outlook on life and her attitude towards the world. She said that she dwelled on the past, a past that consisted of her parent’s divorce and a family move. Julia states that she made a personal decision to not live in the past where there was hurt and disappointment. She wanted to be a positive person that people enjoyed to be around, and a person that she was proud of being. She says she still has her moments where she starts to be negative, but then she tells herself not to go there because she doesn’t want to become that person again. Her teachers sing her praises not only because of her academic success and how she pushes herself in all subject areas but also because of how she supports and peers in class. She continues to set academic goals for herself, and surpasses those goals. While maintaining an A average in all her classes, she also serves as an amazing role model to her younger two siblings and support system to them.”

Ben Hersey

Ben Hersey

Green Sea Floyds Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by his school counselor, Kate Diana

“Ben Hersey has been a great student since coming to Green Sea Floyds Middle.  He has maintained A’s and B’s in all of his academics.  He is very thoughtful and enjoys helping others.  Ben’s ability to succeed in school and beyond has been wonderful to see.  He was originally place in life skills classes due to his emotional disability but has truly flourished in the general curriculum.” 

Marquavious Damonie McCra

Marquavious McCray

Loris Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by his assistant principal, Dr. Tracy Bellamy

“Marquavious McCray is a very special young man.  In spite of the medical challenges that he faces, he comes to school eager and prepared to learn.  Marquavious interacts well with his peers and in academic settings.  It is a joy to watch him on the basketball court.  Marquavious is a phenomenal young man.  I am very proud and honored that he has been selected as Loris Middle School’s HTC REEL Kid.” 

Gervin Rodriquez Rodriguez

Gervin Rodriguez

Myrtle Beach Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by his teacher, Leslie Pearre

“The circumstances that caused Gervin to leave Honduras were horrific; they include the kidnapping of his mother and ultimately the death of his father.  However, upon Gervin’s arrival in Myrtle Beach he has set his mind on becoming a leader. As an ESL student, Gervin is still learning English and participates in Honors level classes. He earns all A’s and B’s. His test scores place him in the top ranks of his class. His teachers cannot say enough about how wonderful he is in class and how he volunteers and always shares correct answers. Gervin is a natural born leader. Gervin is as thoughtful and empathetic as he is a powerful presence. No matter the circumstances, Gervin remains clear headed and mature. He can solve problems and guides students to make the best choices they can. He does not tolerate nonsense or a lack of appreciation of his teachers or the education that is being offered here in America.”

Cameryn Lewis

Cameryn Lewis

North Myrtle Beach Middle School – 8th grade
Nominated by his teacher, Melany Nussbaumer

“Cameryn has many outstanding attributes both as a student and as a community volunteer despite the fact that he is faced with a moderate to severe hearing impairment. This disability has not slowed Cameryn down as he works to achieve his goal. Cameryn is a dedicated student. When he receives an assignment he immerses himself in it and works diligently to fulfill the requirements of that particular assignment. Both in and out of class, Cameryn was a kind leader.  He did not hesitate to assist others and worked well with a variety of students in a variety of situations. He not only assisted classmates within the classroom, but also in a variety of community service activities. Cameryn has not allowed his hearing impairment to affect his ability to learn or to participate in school activities. Cameryn does not hesitate to stand up for himself if another student teases him about his hearing aids. Cameryn is kind-hearted and generous.”

Jeshua Matzdorff

Jeshua Matzdorff

Ocean Bay Middle School – 7th grade
Nominated by his teacher, Kevin Pierce

Jeshua Matzdorff might look like a cute, cuddly teddy bear on the outside, but inside him beats the heart of a lion!  Jeshua had a stroke and hemorrhage in utero.  He was born with hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and a hole in his heart.  He was blind until 8 months old and still only has limited vision. He has had multiple seizures and surgeries.  Through all that, he has maintained a love for God, life, learning and family.  Never one to quit, he played little league for three years in Connecticut and learned to throw and catch with one hand.  He also learned to ice skate and played ice hockey.  He is a great snow skier and can ski a black diamond, the very steep and bumpy hills that are considered very difficult.  He now competes in regular bowling tournaments and wants to be a pro bowler.  Jeshua is an insatiable learner whose first question in the 7th grade was, “When do we start getting homework?”  He is a self-advocate and tenacious when it comes to getting what he wants.  Despite all of the difficulties he has had, Jeshua has kept a great sense of humor and lights up any room he enters.” 

ruby graham

Ruby Graham

St. James Middle School – 7th grade
Nominated by her school counselor, Jesse Durant

“Ruby lost her father last spring and her mother has some health issues.  Ruby has been able to maintain high grades in our honors classes.  She is always very positive in her outlook here at school.  Ruby is enrolled in our honors classes and has made our Beta for quarter one.  Her teachers are very complimentary of her work habits even under stressful situation away from school.”


Trista Hansen

Whittemore Park Middle School – 7th grade
Nominated by her school counselor, Rachel Doutt

“Trista Hansen’s father passed away when she was six from a heart attack.  She was taken away from her sisters and put into the custody of her grandparents.  She was never involved with her mother much due to personal family issues.  Trista is an A/B honor roll student who is a leader in the classroom.  She is always willing to go above and beyond to help her peers.  She is actively involved in chorus inside the school building and enjoys taking care of her dog at home.”