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Campaign asks people to wear green for North Charleston graduates

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Seniors at North Charleston High School are asking people to wear green for its class of 2015 graduates on Monday as part of a spin-off of a national social media campaign to tout the importance of education.

Thousands of feet wander the hallways of North Charleston High School each school year, carrying teens from all walks of life through their days. Among them is senior TJ Lavine, whose road to graduation day has not been the easiest path.

"I kept coming to school late. I was missing work, and I was like I didn't know what was going on in classrooms," said Lavine.

Then he had to deal with the death of his father in the middle of it all.

Student support specialist Jean Rebecca recognized that Lavine was in trouble and stepped in -- even attending the funeral of Lavine's father, a kind gesture that brought down barriers between student and educator.

"I think maybe that sparked interest on his end that I was more than just for the job but I was also in to him and to what was going on in his world and his brother as well," Rebecca said.

And that was all it took, it seemed, to open the door to Lavine moving in the right direction.

"That made me feel like somebody really cared about me and all that, so like, it just (made me) be open to him and let him help me," Lavine said.

And Rebecca did help. With Rebecca's success strategy and building an academic support system, Lavine's grades began to soar.

"I was juiced up. I was amped up. And it only meant the more resources, the more plans, the more strategies," he said. "It's a part of my job so when I see it successful and when I see it happening, I'm excited."

Lavine also excelled outside of the classroom, even becoming the captain of the school's basketball team. He became quite a success story -- one that has now been picked up nationally and featured in the #WearGreenForGrads campaign, the brainchild of Communities in Schools student support specialist Terri Errico.

"TJ just had a wonderful story and he was just such a kind and compassionate kid. His smile is infectious. Every time he smiled in that video, I mean I fall in love with his video all over again," Errico said.

It's a video meant to inspire and encourage people to wear green for graduates on June 1.

"Just by you wearing green and getting the hashtag out, showing how many people are rallying behind them and how many people are supporting them and proud of them that day, we know it's going to mean a lot," she said.

It will mean a lot especially to Lavine and the memory of his late father, who won't get to see him walk across that stage.

"It still don't feel real that I'm about to actually graduate high school," he said.

But for those who will be present, it will be a special day to celebrate the success of one student among many and a program aimed at educational achievements.

"When the day comes and I see mom and I see her face, the possible tears and whatever else comes with it, I'm gonna be on cloud 9, or as we say 100," said Rebecca.

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