Local News

May 25, 2013

Southeast’s Rodriquez models patience, hard work

Southeast Whitfield High School art teacher Melodie Vaden said her first impression of senior Roy Rodriquez was his “patience ... that made him different than most students.” Especially when it came to Rodriquez’s drawings of family members and sunsets that won first place awards at contests at the Creative Arts Guild.

At the time, she said she didn’t know where Rodriquez learned an “adult” work ethic. Then she heard Rodriquez was working from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. everyday as a full-time operator at a carpet mill, taking care of an aging grandfather and using little gaps in the day to study.

“More than most deal with,” Vaden said.

But Rodriquez’s work ethic will pay off tonight at the trade center when he walks with the Southeast graduating class of 2013.

How does he describe the feeling of knowing he’s done with high school?

“Exciting,” Rodriquez said. “Very exciting. It’s been hard to support myself. The teachers here at Southeast have really helped me a lot through this. They knew I was working a lot and they helped me with my schedule and outside class to make sure I was making the grades I needed to graduate.”

Vaden said once the word got out that Rodriquez was overworked, many in the school united around him and offered him extra attention in the classroom.

“But he never made a big deal about it,” Vaden added. “He tried to keep his work to himself. He wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’m working really hard. Cut me a break.’ He’s a very kind person. And we just wanted to support him.”

After moving from central Mexico six years ago, Rodriquez said he never felt support from others until starting classes at Southeast as a junior.

“My father worked in Atlanta and I immigrated there,” he said. “For awhile it was just me and my mom in Mexico till we could come to America. It was hard when we moved to Marietta. It was scary. I wanted to go back home. I didn’t want to go to school because I didn’t know English. I was just afraid. I didn’t speak any English.”

After spending a year in a Cobb County School District English for Speakers of Other Languages program, Rodriquez said he picked up the basics of the language. But he said it was little solace when he felt homesick, especially since his father’s construction life kept his family transient — moving him from school system to school system.

“But here in Southeast, everyone has helped me and just been there for me,” he said. “The teachers here helped me a lot. The students, friends. I’m very thankful for them all.”

That’s why Rodriquez said he decided to stay in Whitfield County when his father’s work moved most of his family to Dallas, Texas. After years of feeling homesick for Mexico, Rodriquez said he found somewhere where he “wanted to stay.”

“I miss them,” he said of his family. “But I didn’t want to leave this high school. And I have my uncle, who I live with here in Dalton. My family — they said they wouldn’t be able to help me with money. They supported my decision though. So I started working full-time at nights. That’s about when my grandfather (who also stayed in Dalton) started feeling sick. And so I helped take care of him after school and before work.”

That doesn’t leave a lot of time to sleep, but Rodriquez says naps and weekends help him cope with his fatigue.

“Everything in his life is not about him,” Vaden said. “Most teenagers are — you know — self-focused. It’s like he missed that whole part of his life. He’s very patient. It’s something not a lot of people have. He doesn’t complain ... even though he’s sort of been in the trenches.”

Rodriquez said he feels like his life will get easier for him after graduation. Inspired by his father’s construction job, Rodriquez plans to become an architectural engineer. He knows that will mean college. He knows that means more work.

“But hard work pays off,” he said. “I just have to keep going.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Longtime Dalton business Green Spot to close

    Larry Green says he made the decision more than a year ago.

    July 29, 2014

  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    Money.
    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014