Thanksgiving is a time to demonstrate an attitude of gratitude for the things that make our lives complete and whole. Teens across The T&D Region will be among those giving thanks for friends, family and faith.
Charles Carter lost his father in a car accident in 2014. He said he was thankful for the aunt and uncle who stepped in to care for him and his siblings.
It is their love and support that Carter said has helped motivate him to excel in school and beyond as he has dealt with his own grief.
He is grateful for their steely selflessness and caring compassion.
“I’m thankful for family and friends, but the dedication would have to go out to my aunt and uncle. I’m really thankful for them because my father was killed in a car accident in 2014,” Carter said.
“Even though they have four kids of their own, my aunt and uncle stepped up and took me, my brother and my older sister. I’m really thankful for that. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at,” he said.
Carter is ranked number two in his senior class at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School in Norway. He is also senior class president, senior editor of the year book and is a member of the school’s character committee.
“If it wasn’t for my aunt and uncle, none of this would be possible. I couldn’t place where I’d be sitting if it wasn’t for them. They’ve helped out a lot, and they’ve encouraged a lot. So that’s what I’m really thankful for. I’m going to keep striving, and I’m going to let my father’s legacy live on even though he’s not here physically,” the senior said.
Carter is one of many teens who are showing appreciation for their blessings at Thanksgiving time.
Andrew Mount, 15
“I’m thankful for having my family around and getting to be around them during this time. I have a good relationship with them, and they’re really my best friends.”
The 10th grader said he’s also grateful to be able to go to school and, among other things, participate in the sports he enjoys.
“I play football, I do the shot put, discus and track,” he said.
Jaeden Johnson, 14
Johnson, a ninth grader, said he’s thankful for a loving family.
“I’m grateful for God blessing me with a good family. He’s blessed me with a good mother, good stepfather in place of my real father, good grandparents and being able to come to school and get a good education,” he said.
Of his family, Johnson said, “They encourage me to do the right things and push me to follow up on my dreams,” noting that he is also thankful to God for one more thing.
“Being able to wake up every morning,” he said.
Rachel Cramer, 18
Cramer, a high school senior and student body vice president, said she is thankful for many things, including military veterans who were recently honored on Nov. 11.
“I’m also thankful for my family, but also since I do theater and dance, I’m very thankful and grateful to be doing those kinds of things and expressing myself through the arts through my school’s theater program and the Orangeburg Civic Ballet,” Cramer said.
She said she’s grateful that venues such as Tamalyn’s Dance Centre and Bluebird Theatre “allow people around the community to express ourselves in such an artistic way.”
School and the opportunities she has gained are also something she is thankful for.
“We are blessed in our area. Just living in an area where we can be taken care of and don’t have to worry about maybe where our next meal is coming from, or maybe where we are financially, are things that we take for granted,” Cramer said.
“Many people in different areas of the world don’t have those freedoms like we do, and they’re another reason we can be thankful,” she said.
Shields Fairey, 16
The 10th grader said she is grateful for her family, friends and faith.
“I’m thankful that we live in a place where we have freedom to rights and that we can just do anything we believe that we can do,” she said.
Julia Smith, 15
Smith, a 10th grader, is thankful for the things that make her life full.
“I’m really thankful for my health and my friends and family that are there to support me. I’m really thankful that we live in a country where we can speak our opinion and not be judged so harshly, just to have a place where all people are able to be accepted,” she said.
Eboni Tucker, 17
Tucker gives thanks for her family and Branchville community.
“I love the love that we have in Branchville. I really adore that about this town. I’m just thankful to live here,” she said.
Of her school, the senior added, “I like the teachers and I like the kids. I like that it’s small and we get along so well and everybody is just like so family oriented.”
Ebony Butler, 18
Butler is thankful for all of her opportunities she has been given in life, including her ability to enjoy the camaraderie that playing sports at Branchville High School brings.
“I’m thankful for all my teams and that we get along very good. Sometimes there are little problems, but we know how to work them out.
“I’ve been here in this school since I’ve been like 5. So I’ve been through every grade they have, and I’m just glad to graduate with the family that I grew up with,” Butler said.
Miracle Lee, 17
Lee, a high school senior, appreciates life and the guidance from loving and caring adults who want her to be successful.
“I’m thankful for life because a lot of my classmates and students at school are deceased now, also family members. I’m thankful for guidance because our teachers and our parents and guardians have gotten us in the right direction,” she said.
She’s also grateful for Jesus and her health and strength.
“I’m grateful for the little things because the little things matter. Just to have one pair of shoes is fine with me. I’m also thankful for music because it helps a lot and lifts up my spirits,” Lee said.
Ricardo Sprinkle, 15
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The 10th grader is thankful for adults who have helped guide him.
“I’m thankful for all the adults that are around me such as my coaches. They are on me so much that I have no choice but to do right and stay on track,” he said.
Sprinkle added, “I’m thankful for the things I have. Even though you might not have it all, somebody else might not have it at all.”
“I’m thankful for sports because I feel like that’s a way out for me. If I do good in sports, I could get a football scholarship for college and do what I like. It’s more than what everybody else is doing,” he said.
Sprinkle is also thankful for his school counselors.
“They really pay attention and see that you’re working hard,” he said.
Jada Milhouse, 17
Milhouse, a high school junior, is thankful for the ability to go to school and for teachers who are willing to help her learn.
“I’m also thankful for having life and still being here and just having a strong family support system. I’m not going to say my family has always been supportive, but the ones that are mainly around are supportive in what I do,” she said.
Isaiah Miller, 15
Miller is grateful for a supportive family.
“I know that I always have them to come to and talk to if anything goes wrong, or if I just want to talk and communicate and ask them for advice. They’re always welcome to tell me everything I need to know,” he said.
The 10th grader said he is also thankful for H-K-T High School.
“The school housed my two aunts, my mom and my uncle. They’re all graduates of this school, and I’m just glad to have the chance to come here. I was here once before and left in fifth grade, but I’m back now. So I’m just ready to flourish,” he said.
Miller is also grateful for his talents.
“I’m a very wonderful singer and also very smart. My mom is also very smart. But with said smartness, sometimes I can be a little lazy when it comes to school work,” he said, noting that his friends and family are all willing to help him with that, too.
“I also have a couple of friends who are willing to help. I talk to them on a daily basis, and although we may be about five hours away, I still have them close to me,” he said.
Raven Haigler, 16
The 11th grader is thankful for God and how he has blessed her.
“I’m thankful to him and I’m thankful for him and everything he does for me and my family. My parents are awesome. I’m so thankful for them. My dad will do anything. If I need something, I just go to him and ask and he got me 100 percent,” Haigler said.
She is also grateful for the teachers and friends at H-K-T High School.
“The teachers here are awesome. I have a bond with some teachers that I know can’t ever break. And my friends are so crazy, but I love them, especially my best friend,” Haigler said.
She is also grateful for the friends she’s made in cheerleading.
“I’m a varsity cheerleader. I started cheering when I was a freshman, and I was terrible at it. But I kept at it and with their support, I love where I’m at right now in my sport.
“When I first started football season, I cheered three games out the whole season. Now I’m cheering every game and helping out new girls,” Haigler said.
Taylor Jamison, 17
Jamison is thankful for “everybody that’s in my life right now and all of the things that I have.”
“I wouldn’t have as much as I have today without them. I’m thankful to have my sister, my aunt, my father, and I’m thankful for all of my friends,” said Jamison, who is also grateful for Jesus.
“I’m very thankful for him because without him nothing’s possible. I’m thankful that I have all of these opportunities in the year that I’m a senior. It’s a lot of stuff that we’ve been opened up to this year,” she said.
Jamison added, “I’m also thankful for the many people that have done me wrong because without them I wouldn’t know how to come back. I wouldn’t know how to make myself better.”
Carolina Santos, 18
Santos said she is grateful for all of the support from family and friends.
“I’m thankful for my friends and my family and the support that I’ve been getting lately because without them I wouldn’t be able to be where I’m at right now,” she said.
The senior added, “I’m thankful I came back to the person I am now because last year I was a total mess. I was failing at so many things, and I recovered from that. I’m very thankful for that because I was going through so much. But now I feel like I’m a better person, and I’m doing great.”
Santos said God has also helped her.
“Of course I’m thankful for God because without him nothing would have been possible. And the friends that I have I’ve had for a long time. They never gave up on me and they always support me. They never judge who I am. They always accept who I am, and I can be very open with them whenever and however,” she said.
Santos’ parents are also among her list of things she’s grateful for.
“I’m thankful I have both of my parents because some people don’t have parents that support them like that. I’m glad that I have them in my life,” she said.
Cooper Toy, 16
The high school senior is thankful for many things, not the least of which is his faith.
“First and foremost, I’m thankful for the good Lord. But next important is opportunity. I’ve just been blessed with opportunity,” Toy said.
He added, “It’s crazy just how much opportunity I have, and I plan to take it out to the fullest with things ranging from careers in aviation, video production and business. I can take my life anywhere I want to, and it’s all because of the opportunity that I’ve received.”
He’s also grateful for obstacles which have made him stronger in life.
“I want to thank all the people that told me I can’t because they drove me to do it and say I could and I did. I’m also thankful for parents that push me to do better because not everybody’s parents are like that. I may not like it all the time, but I know it was for good,” he said.
“They pushed me to where I am now.”