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The City Journals

Big prizes for a big heart

Jun 23, 2017 09:02AM ● By Jet Burnham

Charlie Scriver gets a standing ovation from teachers and students. (Granite School District)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Charlie Scriver, an eighth-grader at Bennion Junior High School, was chosen out of 68,000 students as Granite School District’s Absolutely Incredible Kid.

The award is given to students who overcome challenges to succeed in school and are an inspiration to their peers, said District Communications Director Ben Horsley.

Anne Black, one of Charlie’s teachers, nominated Charlie because of his amazingly kind nature.
“Very rarely is there a student that comes along that goes out of their way to do kind things to everyone they meet,” she said. “He never complains even though has reason to.” 

Another teacher, Judith Hess, said Charlie is very positive in his responses to situations and people, you’d never even guess what he is dealing with in his personal life. 

Charlie said staying positive is how he’s been able to get through hard things. 
“I remind myself that things will get better,” he said.

Charlie’s family has had what his mother, Shelly Scriver, calls “a rough year.” There have been family problems, health problems and problems finding a place to live. Charlie and his siblings have been sleeping in other people’s homes all over the valley while trying to maintain good school attendance. Charlie has had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get to school by 6 a.m., which is the only time his mother can drop him off on her way from where they are living in Eagle Mountain to her job downtown.

Education has always been important to Charlie. 

“School has been his easy thing,” said Scriver. “If he wants to learn something, he learns it.” Teachers said Charlie is a hard worker. He uses his extra time in the morning for homework and maintains his spot on the honor roll. 

Students say that Charlie’s the smartest kid in their classes, and the nicest.
Charlie is an inspiration to others, Hess said.

“I really appreciate what someone can do in spite their circumstances,” Hess said. “We don’t rise because of our circumstances; sometimes we rise in spite of our circumstances.” 

During the school charity drive, Charlie donated more than $100, even though he doesn't have much himself. Those who know him were not surprised.

 “He has a really big heart,” said Scriver.

Hess said she is most impressed by Charlie’s gratitude. 

“He is grateful for everything,” she said. “You’d never know what he is dealing with.” She said he acknowledges simple things, even when she hands out candy or papers.

 “He is one of the few that says thank you every single time,” said Hess.

It was a surprise to the students and Charlie when Horsley announced Charlie’s award during a school assembly. His peers gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name. 

Horsley told Charlie they’d wanted to arrange for him to meet celebrity Ellen DeGeneres, whom Charlie admires for her generosity, but they were unable to.

“I hope what we’re about to do is special enough,” Horsley told him. What came next was like an episode of Ellen as local business owners presented Charlie with a barrage of increasingly exciting gifts. 

 “We realize there are kids in our community that are beyond amazing and being example to others even though they may not know that. Things like that mean a lot to us,” said Arvo owner Jake Nackos as he presented Charlie with an Arvo watch and other goodies. Charlie also received a skateboard and new clothes from Max Connect Marketing, a laptop from Valcom and Seven Peaks Pass of all Passes for his family. Megaplex theaters gave Charlie $500 worth of movie passes and treats.

 “In the movies, we have a lot of superheroes,” said Jake Anderson, president of Megaplex. “We know that most of those superheroes are fictitious, but when I read about Charlie—we have a real superhero here.” Anderson also gave Charlie a job application form.
“When you turn 16, if you want to work with us, you’ve got a job,” said Anderson.
Granite Education Fund and Granite Credit Union presented Charlie a check for $1,000 to start his college fund.

An avid reader, Charlie is a fan of local author Richard Paul Evans. Evans gave him an autographed set of his Michael Vey series and a VIP pass to the next book launch meet-and-greet. Evans sent a personal video to congratulate Charlie in which he likened Charlie to the hero of the Michael Vey series who exhibits great internal power.  

Charlie was overwhelmed by the gifts and attention. He said he simply values “being kind, responsible and helping others when I can.”

Charlie has been an inspiration to teachers, students and the community.

 “He is an absolutely perfect example of what we can do with our lives if we really try,” said Hess.