Sen. Scott visits Bluffton High School

Moments after delivering the keynote speech Friday at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Region, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott traveled to Bluffton High School to speak to an auditorium of roughly 200 students, teacher and administrators.

One of his main messages was dealing with adversity.

The South Carolina Republican told students that as an adolescent, he struggled with depression and a childhood that involved growing up with one parent who worked 16 hours a day to support him.

“Growing up in a single-parent household, I did not always do well. From about 7 until 14, I just kind of drifted,” he said.

“I failed four subjects in high school. I failed civics. I’ve been in the Senate for five years now and I can tell you I may be the only senator who failed civics.”

Scott said he picked himself up with the help of some tough love and also encouragement from his mother, who was in attendance Friday.

“My mom would say, ‘Son, look at the moon. Shoot for it because if you miss, you’ll end up among the stars,’” Scott recalled.

Assistant principal Brian Ryman said he appreciated Scott sharing the story of his childhood.

“I think Sen. Scott’s experience through school, where he didn’t necessarily have the easiest time, and the fact that along the road he has had hardships, I think that strikes with all Americans and especially our students,” Ryman said.

“So just seeing when someone gets down and goes through adversity, you can overcome that, I think it’s a great message.”

Ryman said he thought the whole experience Friday was a “very cool” one for his students.

“There are only 100 (senators) in the United States,” he said. “So the fact that we get one of them to come to our building today is an incredible opportunity for our students. We have phenomenal youth in government program here and all those kids were super-ecstatic and excited.”

Scott touched on a number of topics, including the economy and immigration.

He said he believes the economy is as healthy as it’s been in decades, crediting the Obama administration for starting improvements and the Trump administration for “taking it to another level.”

The senator told students he believes immigration will continue to be one of the biggest issues as their generation comes of age.

“It is a massive number of people that wants to live in our country,” he said. “One of the biggest questions we will face as a nation is, ‘How do we continue to be the most compassionate country on earth and wrestle with the fact that so many folks want to live here?’”

Scott echoed the same message he made at the State of the Region when he told the room the biggest threat America may face is its own inability to work together.

“Perhaps the biggest threat we have to our continued success as a nation isn’t in the area of taxes, regulations, good policy or bad policy,” he said. “It’s whether or not we will allow ourselves, the most diverse nation on earth, to continue to function as one single unit, as one American family.”

At the State of the Region, which was held at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa, May River High School senior Savannah Littlejohn introduced Gov. Henry McMaster.

McMaster, who is running for re-election against Democratic state Rep. James Smith, gave a brief and largely positive speech about the state of South Carolina.

“This is our time,” he told the room, referencing an increase in businesses that have moved to the state in recent years.

“South Carolina is unbeatable in workforce development and what it does to attract people,” he said.

“The main thing that attracts us is the people of South Carolina. There was a Japanese company that came over to American soil and she said the reason we’re here is the people, the people and the people.

“They’ll tell you South Carolina is a handshake state. What that means is when someone from South Carolina gives you their word and shakes your hand, you can take it to the bank.”