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24811: Hermantin (News) Haitian student earns praise
leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Haitian student earns praise
By C. Ron Allen
April 17, 2005
As a child growing up in Haiti, Evener Cleristor learned the importance of
addressing adults as "sir" and "ma'am."
So when he moved to Delray Beach in 2000, it was natural for him to be
polite to his teachers. He stood out among his peers.
"He always ends his responses with `ma'am,' `Yes, ma'am' or `Please,
ma'am,'" said Georgiene Morgan, who chairs the English for Speakers of Other
Languages department at Boca Raton High School. "It is such a breath of
fresh air in an age when so many people tend to be discourteous to others."
Whenever teachers talk about Cleristor, they use words such as respectful
and responsible. One of his teachers says she can count on him to assist her
in class, a chore he relishes.
Recently, as his freshman English teacher, Glynis Benson, expressed concerns
about the number of students who try to cheat in her class, she praised the
ninth-grader -- with great pride -- as one of the few who is trustworthy.
Benson said she would go to the restroom and leave Cleristor unattended in
the room with her purse.
"[He] is so honest," she said. "You're talking about innate integrity. I
would leave my taxes and my checkbook open in from of him and he wouldn't
He would prefer to get a low grade rather than copy from his classmates,
To Cleristor, being honest and trustworthy is important.
"If people can't trust you, you have some major problems," said Cleristor,
17, who recently was recognized as a South Florida Sun-Sentinel Character
Counts! kid for responsibility in the Palm Beach County School District's
character-education program. "My dad always tells me, `If it's not your
stuff, don't touch it. If you want it, ask for it.' That is important to me
-- that they can trust me. If they lose trust in you, you lose everything.
"I would rather get it wrong and know that it was my answer than copy from
someone else," Cleristor said.
Cleristor is a year or two behind students his age because he came to this
country five years ago speaking little English, Morgan said. A computer
program listed him as a beginner reader because it could not grade him any
lower, Benson said. However, he did not let that deter him.
"He didn't have the skills, but he just fought and fought and fought and
stayed with it while other kids would have given up," Morgan said. "He was
not getting pretty grades, but he didn't give up. He never once said `I
Benson recalled watching Cleristor's eyes "glaze over" as she handed him his
graded assignments with an F.
But she assured him that if he came to her before and after school for extra
help and be prepared to work harder, his grades would improve.
"[He] came every morning for help and he worked so hard," Benson said.
Months later, when Cleristor saw his first improvement, "he was so excited
in getting a D," she said.
Last year, he was awarded the most improved student prize, Benson said.
Cleristor often volunteers to clean the board and put the chairs on top of
desks after classes so the custodian can clean the floors, Morgan said.
"I just like to help out," he said. "I like to help the teachers, and if I
go anywhere and see somebody who needs a little hand, I will help. That's
how my mother raised me."
Whenever his neighbor leaves town for extended periods, he housesits for
"She gives me her keys and I will take care of her cat for her," Cleristor
said. "I give him cat food, make sure he has fresh water and turn on the
light at 5 [p.m.] for the cat and then off in the morning."
Cleristor credits his parents with instilling basic values in him at an
"My mother teaches us [that] we are supposed to respect adults," he said.
"If I don't talk to them the correct way, they might tell her and she would
get mad at me. It's the right way to speak to adults."
This is another in a series of stories about students who best exemplify the
six pillars of the Palm Beach County School District's Character Counts!
Program: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and
C. Ron Allen can be reached at email@example.com or 954-385-7917.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel