Last updated: May 08. 2014 5:50AM - 398 Views

Daniel High School's Ivan Cabrera is shown with Principal Danny Merck.
Daniel High School's Ivan Cabrera is shown with Principal Danny Merck.
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PICKENS COUNTY — The winners of the Most Improved Student Award at each Pickens County High School were honored for their hard work and achievement on April 24.

The winners were Ivan “Teto” Cabrera, a senior at Daniel High School; Chris Robinson, a senior at Easley High School; Tyler Carson, a senior at Liberty High School; and James Mansell, a senior at Pickens High School.

All four winners were recognized at a luncheon at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center sponsored by the Pickens Affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. SHRM also presented the winners with trophies, Clemson University athletics gift bags, and $200 cash prizes.

Wes Nelson, Clemson University graduate student and member of the Clemson soccer team, spoke to the students about the benefits of focus and hard work.

The students were nominated by their teachers for their improvement in academics and character.

At Daniel High School, Cabrera’s teachers praised his increased focus as he progressed through school.

“When he came to Daniel he was more interested in socializing than in studying. This year, it’s not uncommon to see Teto coming in early to do extra work for a class or staying after to make sure he understands as concept,” said Dana Howard, an English Teacher at DHS. “Teto is one of the kindest students at school. You can put him in any group with any student, and he’ll make the most of the situation.”

Cabrera credited teacher Shelly Wilson with making the biggest impact on his high school career.

“She just prepared me for everything,” he said. “She was like a second mom.”

At Easley High School, guidance counselor Lauren Blackston said Robinson overcame a personal tragedy that forced him to move from North Carolina to stay with his aunt and uncle in Easley.

“Over the past two years, we have seen a remarkable change toward the positive in Chris. He has had tremendous personal and academic growth since his enrollment,” Blackston said. “There is not a day that goes by that Chris is not seen in the halls, smiling and joking with his peers.”

Robinson said being part of the EHS rugby team helped him grow as a person and that Blackston helped him improve academically.

“I didn’t feel satisfied when I would go to the guidance counselor with a failing grade, and that motivated me to pull them up,” he said. “I want to go to college and be able to earn some independence when I graduate.”

At Liberty High School, Tyler Carson credited an intervention from principal Lori Gwinn and baseball coach Scott Whitlock with setting him on a path to success. “It totally set me on the right track. I started to focus on school instead of things that didn’t matter.”

His teachers saw his grades improve dramatically.

“He is a hard worker, a friend to his peers, and is well on his way to seeing his dreams become a reality,” said teacher Amanda Thompson.

At Pickens High School, James Mansell overcame a lack of focus and reluctance to ask questions, and turned his academic performance around. English teacher Christie Dunson said he began the school year struggling to pass, but worked hard to earn a 100 percent on his assignments for the entire third quarter. “Now, he is self-motivated,” she said.

“It’s a blessing that hard work pays off no matter how long it takes,” Mansell said, and he thanked Business and Technology teacher Jackie Furr for helping him. “She encouraged me and kept me going, even when I lost confidence,” he said.

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