COVINGTON – It started off as a typical day at Liberty Middle School. Sixth-grader Christian Swope was having lunch in his classroom on Wednesday when he sensed a classmate was in danger. He immediately recognized the signs that his friend was choking and couldn’t breathe. Swope ran to his aid, executed the Heimlich maneuver, and managed to dislodge food from his friend’s throat before tragedy occurred.
“My friend was suffocating and couldn’t breathe,” said Swope, who is 12. “My aunt is a nurse and she taught us how to do CPR and Heimlich, so I wasn’t scared because I knew what to do. “
Swope’s aunt, Mercy Aguilar, is understandably proud of her nephew.
“I have a skeleton that I bought from nursing school, so last year I taught my boys how to do different safety moves,” she says. “I was so ecstatic and shocked when I found out. When you get a call from school during the day, you don’t expect it to be good news. I was just speechless and absolutely proud when they told me what he had done. He actually saved a life.
Aguilar said she never thought her nephew would need the life skills she taught him.
“When I was teaching them both the safety moves, I never thought in my wildest dreams that they would ever use them,” she said. “But he did. I am absolutely proud of him. He really understood it and was efficient in using the maneuver.
After this scary experience and it was determined that his friend would be fine, Swope told his classmates, “called me a lifeline and they applauded me.”
When asked how he felt, Swope replied, “I feel good. And I feel proud of myself. When I got home, my aunt called me a hero.
Liberty Middle School principal Keisa Vincent said she believed the young Christian was a hero too.
“Christian stepped in and took charge of the situation and saved his friend’s life,” Vincent said. “In a situation where many adults may have panicked, Christian was calm and knew what to do. Knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver at 12 is amazing. He’s definitely a hero in my book.
When Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey learned of Swope’s actions, she made it a point to meet him. On Thursday morning, she made a surprise visit to Liberty Middle School to meet Swope and present him with her superintendent’s coin of distinction.
“This piece is for individuals who go above and beyond because it’s the right thing to do; they are selfless and demonstrate their commitment to others through their actions and words, ”Fuhrey explained to Swope as he presented the play to him. “Very few people receive the Superintendent’s Coin of Distinction, but you get it because you are a hero. You saved someone’s life by performing the Heimlich Maneuver in the classroom and it is certainly worthy of the Superintendent’s Coin of Distinction.
“He’s a remarkable young man,” noted Fuhrey. “I am more than proud of him. I reserve the Distinction Piece only for the best of the best, and Christian definitely meets the criteria.
Fuhrey bestowed the coin of distinction only on those who exceed expectations, and relatively few coins were presented during her tenure as principal of the school, as she is reserved as her highest honor. Students in a class at South Salem Elementary School were given coins when they worked together to save their teacher, who had a medical emergency on the playground. In another case, she visited Henry County schools to reward a student who quit a high school baseball game in the middle of a batting to comfort an Eastside High School pitcher whose father had died suddenly after a medical emergency in a previous match. . Most notably, Fuhrey awarded his coin of distinction to the American civil rights hero, the late Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese, who was a member of Selma’s “Courageous Eight”.
“This is how the Christian elite is – he shares this recognition with Dr. Reese!” It really is a very unique award, ”said Fuhrey. “So congratulations to Christian for a job well done. I hope his play is a reminder of how extraordinary he is. “