Those schools' students have learned that trustworthiness is honesty and doing the right thing even when no one is looking; respect is treating others the way you want to be treated; responsibility is taking ownership of your actions; caring is being kind, grateful, forgiving and helpful; and citizenship is obeying laws, taking civic pride in your community and giving back to society.
Marsh Elementary School held its first Character Counts Read-Aloud Assembly on Oct. 23. The event was spearheaded by third-grade teacher Steven Kestner.
"This year, we have invited the parents to come and listen to different storytelling groups, featuring stories of character," said Kestner. "We wanted to include the parents so that they would get excited and involved with the project.
"After all, the parents play the biggest role (in teaching their children character). Mom and Dad can push the concept in their homes and have conversations about the character pillars in a more practical way."
Half of the students are Latino, so the activities were divided into English and Spanish reading groups. The story readers included Marsh Elementary teachers Ande Perez, Wendi Tyler-Zimmerman, Valorie Baca, Trisha Gonzalez, Kathy Solano, Wendy Jones, Veronica Kimble, Karen Sran and Guillermo Argote.
Kestner, who offered color-coded "pillar-pops" for treats, said his aim is to get the kids to integrate the positive character traits into their daily lives. "Society benefits from
Marsh as we implement character-building projects like these," he said.
Last week's event was one of several throughout the year that include projects such as a canned food drive in November and December, and writing notes and sending drawings to the troops in January.
Celia Medina-Genes, mother to second-grader Victor Ortiz-Medina, said, "This activity helps reinforce our teachings at home. I think right now Victor needs to practice respect, as he is the only child."
At Lone Tree Elementary last week, the children eagerly awaited their Character Counts assembly, hoping to receive Character Counts Awards.
"We award the children every month," said Lone Tree principal Essence Phillips. "Character is crucial. Attendance, academic achievement and character-building are our goals."
New this year is the Character Counts poster-making contest. The grand prize was won by fifth-grader Desiree Sandoval. Her parents, Alex Franco and Eva LaRosa, were proud. "Character is very important to round off the children's education," LaRosa said.
The other poster winners were Sammy Chaves, Devin Orellana, Noah Tan, Cienna Ochoa, Bernice Fernandez and Richie Gonzales.