A Romanian native who teaches at Cleveland High School is outspoken when she reflects on a part of her life for which she is most thankful: being an American citizen."Gabby" Tallent, a CHS chemistry …
A Romanian native who teaches at Cleveland High School is outspoken when she reflects on a part of her life for which she is most thankful: being an American citizen.
"Gabby" Tallent, a CHS chemistry teacher, and a few of her Key Club students were the guests of honor at a recent Cleveland Kiwanis Club luncheon.
During the visitor's presentation, the educator shared why she is so thankful to live in America, and to be among the nation's citizens.
She told the Kiwanis members how she came to this country, and how important it is to her — along with the American she married, who is from Tellico.
"I didn't come to America for the country," she emphasized. "I came for a man. If he had been from China, I would be in China today. If he was from Japan, I would be in Japan."
She said she is proud of her Romanian heritage, but something changed just after the start of this century — with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I was staring at the television screen, and I couldn't understand how a people could hate a country so much," she said. "I told my husband we need to talk."
Tallent said she realized that if you're here, in America, you're an American.
"Anytime something bad happens (in the world), Americans are there to help," she pointed out.
She said her husband asked, "What about Romania?" and she told him she thought Romania would understand.
She emphasized, with some emotion and evident thankfulness, "I am now an American."
Tallent was joined by Key Club members Aryali Patel, Olivia Miller, Ashi Patel, Fernanda Tellez and Carolyn Miller. Most are officers of the club.
Aryali Patel had a few words for the Kiwanians
"It's an honor to be here to tell you about our Key Club," said the club president. "Last year we had 18 members, and this year we've grown to 30."
She said club members recently worked with children with special needs at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, saying they are very involved with helping others.
The Key Club celebrated Kindness Day last week where they handed out gifts to fellow students.
Tallent, who has been Cleveland High's Key Club sponsor for six years, said the club is probably the most diverse at the school.
"We have all types of nationalities," she said.
"We have kids from all over the world, and several from Europe, where I came from," Tallent added.
The chemistry teacher emphasized that "all children are created equal, but you have choices, and that's where you can mess up," she said.
Cleveland High kids are a special kind, she pointed out and added that the high school staff is trying to provide a family environment.
"What's funny is they don't realize I'm from a foreign country," she said laughing with her heavy accent. "I live in Tellico and I drive to work each day, and I never regret it."
She said it took her a while to understand the school system's motto of Every Child, Every Day.
"It's about the kids, and this makes Cleveland what it is today," she said.
It also helps make her thankful she is an American.
Kiwanis President Mike Stoess told the Key Club members, "You have a good example of what a leader is."
In other Kiwanis business:
• There will be no Kiwanis Club luncheon this Thanksgiving week.
• Club member Traci Hamilton announced that the club's annual coats drive for Head Start students has been a major success. There have already been 85 coats (or outfits) purchased for the children, well within reach of this year's goal of 93. Members anticipate reaching that goal within two weeks.
• The Kiwanis Club board has amended its policy regarding invitations to prospective members. The club will cover the cost of their lunch at the Cleveland Elks Lodge.
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