Dillon breaks ground to replace 100 year old school

Ty'Sheoma Bethea was President Obama's guest at his first address to Congress.

The more than 100 year old building that houses Dillon's junior high school students will soon be replaced.

Dillon school leaders broke ground Monday for a new school to replace J.V. Martin Junior High. The new school is being built behind Dillon High School, off Joan Drive.

About 150 people came out to Monday's ceremony to break ground for the new JV Martin, including Ty'sheoma Bethea. She was a student at J.V. Martin in 2007 when she wrote a letter to the president asking for his help. "It's amazing to come back for a groundbreaking of the new middle school," she said, "I'm so proud of myself for making it this far, and I have big hopes for the students that are going to attend this new school."

The aging school gained national attention when President Barack Obama visited the school during his campaign.

Here's the question we posed to candidate Barack Obama back on August 25, 2007 when he visited the school: Senator, we're sitting in an office at J.V. Martin Junior High school that was built back in 1896, and is still in use. It leads to the question, are all American children getting a quality education today?

Mr. Obama said, "Well I don't think they are. I think that the Superintendent, the principal, the teachers here are doing a heroic job trying to keep it together. But they're not getting a lot of help. They've got a building built in 1896, parts of the building are crumbling and can no longer be used. You've got a gymnasium that used to be a boxing ring built back in 1926, and it was 100 degrees in there. You've got mobile units being built along side the units that have no windows and shake when the trains go by. It's just a tough environment for kids to learn in. Certainly a tough environment for teachers to teach in. What was also interesting was finding out that teachers in this district may be getting as much as $18,000 less than teachers in adjoining districts just 25 miles away. That's too big of a burden to place on these local communities if the children here are going to get an equal education."

When Senator Obama became President Obama, he invited Ty'sheoma to be his guest at his first address to Congress. Ty'sheoma sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama. You can read that story here. Http://

The USDA Rural Development Program provided a $35 million Community Facility Loan and a $4 million Community Facility Grant for the new J.V. Martin Jr. High School and two other projects. Groundbreakings were also held for a new 74,000 square foot early childhood development center and renovations to the existing Lake View High School.