The conversation that would change the course of a Denton teen’s life forever started with a simple “hello.”
“I said ‘Hello, my name is Brenda Everhart. I’m with CIS (Communities In Schools). Do you know about the program?’” said the woman who had been matched as a mentor to Samantha, then a sixth grade student at South Davidson Middle School.
Everhart wasn’t expecting Samantha to immediately confide plans to end her formal education as soon as she turned 16, the age at which kids are legally able to drop out of school without permission from their parents in North Carolina.
“I told her, ‘Well, we are going to make a great team because I too at 16 had planned to quit school.’ She laughed and then we started quizzing each other about our likes and dislikes. We found out that though we are many years different in age, we had a lot in common.”
Time passed and Everhart’s relationship with Samantha deepened. Each day they discussed home, school, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, sports, and weekend plans.
“Sometimes we did school work or school projects. We attended the theater, musicals, the symphony; we went shopping, out to eat, and to the movies,” said Everhart, adding that they spent the majority of their time together just goofing off and being silly, “not worrying about anything.
“She (Samantha) taught me so much about teenage life and how things are so different than when I was her age. There were days I would question whether I was really helping her or not but then I would arrive at school and she would bring me up with all of her excitement. We ended every visit with a hug.”
When the time came for Samantha to decide whether or not she would continue attending school, Everhart was honest about her feelings.
“I told her if she quit (school) I’d lose a best friend,” said Everhart. “She (Samantha) replied, ‘I’m not quitting if you stay my mentor until I graduate.’ I said ‘Sam, I will be your best friend even past graduation! We are now life friends.’”
Having met her goal of seeing Samantha through to her graduation day, Everhart said she will continue sharing a message of hope for the future with other students – especially with the seventh grade student she is currently mentoring through the CIS program at South Davidson Middle School.
“She (Samantha) is my first success story. I’m so glad she graduated.”