The Surprise Star Of Obama's Address

Thanks to Ty'Sheoma Bethea, everyone at JV Martin Junior High shares the audacity of hope.

Last night, the 14-year-old watched President Obama read America her letter to Congress. It was a plea to build a new school for her small town, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

The letter Ty'Sheoma wrote read: "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors and congressmen like yourself - and one day, president. So we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but to the world. We are not quitters.

"I woulda never thought somethin like that woulda come true," Ty'Sheoma said. "Imagine something like that happening to a little girl from Dillon, South Carolina."

Too often at JV Martin Junior High, dreams die early. In fact, 85 percent of students live below the poverty line.

The school, built in 1896, is falling apart. With a 60-percent dropout rate, the daily fight here is against s poverty of the spirit

But last night, the junior high reconnected to hope.

"I was watching my little girl up there," the school's principal, Amanda Brunette said. "And tears were running down my face. This is my blood, sweat and tears."

"There is such a thing as possibilities, and as long as you got possibilities all your dreams can come true," Bethea said.

"And last night was a dream come true?" Strassmann asked.

"Yes, sir," Bethea said.

With one letter, this eighth grader taught her entire school the possibilities in dreaming.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.