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Taylorsville • He's humble and helpful. He's generous. And he loves to read and learn.
Charlie Scriver, 14, is an "Absolutely Incredible Kid" an annual award bestowed on one of Granite School District's 68,000 students.
Thursday, the eighth-grader was the surprise recipient of the prize, as 650 seventh- and eighth-grade students went wild, chanting "Charlie, Charlie," in Bennion Junior High School's auditorium .
A seemingly stunned Scriver took the stage and choked back tears as the accolades and gifts of appreciation poured in.
A year ago, Scriver, his five siblings and mother became homeless after his parents divorced.
Since then, he has been sleeping on the floor of his grandparents' home in Eagle Mountain and once a week at a friend's house in Taylorsville. He arises at 4:30 a.m. and then makes the long drive to Taylorsville with his mother, Shelley Scriver, arriving at school around 6 a.m. an hour and 45 minutes before the first bell. Shelley then drives to Horizonte Instruction and Training Center in Salt Lake City, where she works for Head Start.
Charlie's history teacher, Anne Black, was one of two teachers to nominate him.
"He's kind and looks out for others," Black said. "He looks out for everybody."
Every December, Bennion Junior High holds a "Charity Week," when students can donate to less-fortunate families.
Last December, Charlie donated more than $100 he had earned at various jobs, said Black, who related this story: When a teacher told Charlie he should keep the money because his family needed it, he said, "I know what it's like to not have Christmas. I don't want that to happen to others."
The eighth-grader also is a straight-A student, Black said, with a thirst for knowledge.
"With all that he's been through, he could be bitter and mad and think the world owes him," Black said. "Not him. He never complains."
Judith Hess, Charlie's science teacher, said she has never seen a student work so hard.
"I have taught in many schools and many places over the past 28 years," she said, "and he is, by far, the most resilient and hardworking student I have ever met."
Charlie is a positive force, she said, never having anything bad to say about his classmates or others.
"Talking to him, you'd never know he has so little," she said. "He's a perfect example of what we can do if we try."
After the ceremony, dozens of students leapt on stage to hug and congratulate their friend as tears swept down Charlie's face.
Wiping his eyes, Charlie said he tries to be kind and helpful to other people whenever he can.
As for the hardships he and his family continue to endure, he said he tries to remain hopeful.
"Whenever things get really hard," he said, "I think to myself, it will get better later on."
One of the greatest pleasures in his life, he said, is reading and learning.
"It's fun to learn stuff," he said, "instead of sitting on your butt and doing nothing."
He hopes to become a pediatrician.
When things quieted down a bit in the auditorium, Charlie's mother got a turn to hug him, too. The pair held each other in a long and emotional embrace. She, too, was crying, but also beaming with pride.
"It's a bit overwhelming," she said. "He's always been the peacemaker in my family. He's got a heart of gold. I really love him."
The award came with various gifts from community businesses and organizations. Among them was a new laptop, skateboard, watch, clothes, backpack, and a $1,000 donation toward a college fund.
Charlie also got a video greeting from best-selling Utah author Richard Paul Evans and signed copies of his "Michael Vey" series, adventure stories about hope, loyalty and courage.
In the greeting, Evans congratulated Charlie for his accomplishments and said, "We have a real superhero here."