Waubay student stands tall in face of tribulation
WAUBAY, Feb 18, 2013 (American News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When his mother died, Seth Keeble could have turned to drugs and alcohol like he saw some of his friends do, but he didn't.
"It's not what my mom would have wanted for me," Keeble, 18, said.
Seth's mother, Julia Keeble, died in a car accident in 2006.
He doesn't talk about it much, but recently he had to tell his story as he filled out a scholarship application.
Scholarships from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans go to students who have overcome adversity. The national program awards 25 scholarships worth $5,000 each to South Dakota students.
Keeble, a Waubay School senior, was one of the 25.
Alger was an American author who often wrote about tales of adversity.
Kelsey Beckstrom, a school counselor, told Keeble the good news of his award.
"It was quite exciting because of the reputation of the program," Beckstrom said.
Applicants had to demonstrate financial need, involvement in school and community activities and show how they had overcome adversity.
"Losing my mom and never having Dad around in life was the biggest adversity I overcame," Keeble said.
His youngest brother, Eathan, was 1 when she died.
"The biggest thing is that my brother won't ever get to know her," Keeble said.
Keeble had to write a series of essays for his application packet.
"He never told us about or showed us the essay," Pamela Keeble, his grandmother, said.
Beckstrom said Seth Keeble is usually shy about his accomplishments and is incredibly humble.
Keeble is finishing up his senior season on the boy's varsity basketball team.
Julia Keeble played basketball for the Waubay School. She led the 1993 girls' basketball team to the state basketball tournament, where the team finished as the B consolation champions.
"She was a good basketball player," Gabe Keeble, Seth's grandfather, said.
Julia Keeble earned a state three-point record during the final game of the '93 tournament when she hit five. Her number was retired at Waubay School following her death.
"I play, but I'm not as good as she was," Seth Keeble said.
He is teammates with his brother, Jordan Vermillion, a freshman.
They said they both think about their mother when they play basketball.
Both were affected greatly when their mother died.
"We had to tell these young boys: 'Julie's gone,' " Gabe Keeble said. "The hardest part was having them say goodbye to her."
Seth Keeble and Jordan Vermillion were separated from their youngest brother, Eathan, who went to live with his father.
"There was uncertainty of who would take care of us," said Seth Keeble, who was 10 at the time.
To him, it was important that he not succumb to a life of drugs and alcohol during that time of uncertainty.
"Other kids I know that have done drugs: It took away their lives," Keeble said.
He also wants to set an example for others in his family.
"I have many younger cousins and want to be a good role model," he said.
Keeble is always one to support others, Beckstrom said.
"Seth is like a welcome wagon to Waubay," Beckstrom said. "He's the first to make sure to meet you if you're new and purposely goes out of his way to make people smile."
He can be spotted at many school events donning the school colors -- kelly green and white.
Beckstrom recalls a day where the school was empty after the bell rang, but Keeble was there painting windows and making posters for homecoming week.
"He's always telling us that he's on his way up to the school," Pam Keeble said.
Students who earn a Horatio Alger award must also show a commitment to attaining a bachelor's degree.
Seth Keeble is going to Northern State University in the fall. He wants to study psychology so that he can become a guidance counselor. He hasn't ruled out coaching in the future, either.
"I want other kids to have someone that's always going to be there for them," Keeble said. "I want to help keep them away from drugs and alcohol and help kids who are in similar situations to me."
Whatever he does, he thinks about his mother.
"I know I'd be making her proud right now," he said.
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