2016 Tulare County Kids of Character

Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees 2016

Of the nearly 6,500 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 45 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Celebration held on October 26. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students.

Trustworthiness honorees

Top Honorees:

Rhegan Fernandes , Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Dave Caetano, Clemente Fagundes

Rhegan is the definition of being responsible. She has the maturity of someone much older than sixteen. Even as early as her freshman year, every time you had a conversation with Rhegan you felt as if you were talking to another adult. She participates in many activities and what separates Rhegan from most others her age is the high degree of quality in which she completes those tasks. She is an outstanding student-athlete, maintains academic excellence and is very involved in community activities, the FFA program, and her church. She is a teacher’s dream as a student, everything is turned in on time and the quality of her work is exceptional! As a student-athlete, Rhegan leads by example, and is a key player to a team’s success on and off the field.

Luz Uribe , Sierra Vista High School, Dinuba
nominated by Jose Contreras

Luz is a positive force on our campus. Her first few years at Dinuba High School she struggled. Since transferring to Sierra Vista High School, she has proven resourceful in showing her commitment to her academics. She is genuine in her character and does not try to raise herself above others. Rather she is likeable, humble and easy to talk with. She makes smart decisions in her everyday actions, academics and behavior that make a difference in the eyes of others. Luz has come to the realization that there is room for her to grow and become better, and because of that, she knows ways to help inspire and support others as well as challenge herself. There has been a big change for the positive in Luz and we are all so proud of her.


Leah See , Annie R. Mitchell Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Megan Madsen

Leah is a student that always portrays trustworthiness attributes. I can count on her to be honest and keep her promise when she says she will do something. She is loyal to her friends and family. Leah is her true authentic self and doesn't change her character to make others happy. Her classmates can count on her to return things she borrows and to follow through when she tells them she will do something with or for them. Leah has consistent, positive behavior that other Golden Eagles can count on!

Crystal Vasquez-Jauregui , Lincoln Elementary School, Lindsay
nominated by Laura Cortes

Crystal is an exceptional leader demonstrating trustworthiness to her friends, classmates and all that surround her. She steps in when someone is in need and helps others as she sees the need. At the beginning of this school year we had a younger new student preparing the daily morning announcements. Crystal offered to help her through the experience and stay by her side until she felt comfortable on her own. Crystal is a bright student and participates in many school and community activities. You can always count on Crystal to tell the truth and to ensure that students’ needs are considered.

Arturo Torres , Palo Verde Union School, Tulare
nominated by Maria Lawson

Arturo applied for a class job the first week of school – taking care of Pancha, the classroom snake. He was intrigued by the Pancha Pal position as I explained the required careful attention she needed as a live animal and our dear cold- blooded classroom pet. Arturo was willing to give up his recesses to clean her cage, pour her water and feed her when necessary. After a month on the job, he demonstrated that I could trust him to complete his academic responsibilities as well as care for our class pet. Such hardworking qualities will definitely pay off when Arturo applies for employment in the future!

Angel Verduzco , Tipton School, Tipton
nominated by Tamara Morton

Angel stands out from the crowd. He is lively, entertaining and trustworthy. He was one of my most dependable students last year. With any task, he showed up when he was supposed to and got the job done! On top of being an outstanding student, he took on the lead role in our school play. He kept to the schedule and was extremely reliable. He would always tell the truth, even when he was part of the group that made a poor choice. He stood up for what was right and was also known for speaking up for others. Angel was someone I could depend on and trust the entire year in any situation.

Respect honorees

Top Honorees:

Madison Crawford , Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia
nominated by Stefani Clark

“Maddie”, as she is known, is a sophomore and has designed a website and Instagram account for the Mt. Whitney High School community to acknowledge, affirm, and recognize students and staff who are doing things right or kind – no matter how small – all to make the point that Mt. Whitney IS a great place to be. Her motto is a quote from Gandhi: "You must be the change you want to see". She has offered cookies to teachers as a way to pass "goodness" forward and she has named each day of the week as an opportunity to recognize people for being prideful Pioneers: Staff Appreciation Sunday, Motivation Monday, Timeless Tuesday, Warrior Wednesday, Famous Friday, and Selfless Saturday. She is doing this on her own and has shared her ideas with staff and students on campus to get students involved in paying positive energy forward. Practicing random acts of kindness and exhibiting Pioneer GRIT (Greatness, Respect, Integrity, Tenacity).

Richard Torres, Jr. , Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by David Flores, Kim Dueck, Laurie Jones

Richard is one of the very best that Mission Oak has to offer. He is a scholar-athlete, an amateur boxer, an AP student and a kind and respectful young man. At first glance, you wouldn't want to meet Richard alone in a dark alley. At 6'2" and 227 pounds, Richard is also the President of Mission Oak’s high school Chess club. That's right. Chess. Richard earns the pillar of respect for balancing respect for the needs of his body, as well as his mind. In Chess Club, Richard promotes this intellectual game to anyone who will listen. During the club fair last month, he even bet a kid that he couldn't beat him in a game...and the kid actually beat Richard! Richard is not afraid to be vulnerable and the kids and adults on campus respect him for this. The respect he shows his training regimine is unbelievable. He works out at the Tulare Athletic Club 3-4 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, and then finds time to serve as a mentor to the younger boxers. He also tutors adults in math and even finds time to play guitar and ukulele and write poetry. Richard continues to impress his teachers with his respect for education through his attentiveness, leadership and collaboration with other classmates.


Jeannine Ocampo , Live Oak Middle School, Visalia
nominated by Beverly Yoshida

Jeannine exemplifies all six pillars of character admirably. In selecting one pillar, the pillar of Respect seems to cover all of her positivity. Her quiet and shy ways should not deceive anyone. She is an advocate for herself and others. She is always willing to step up to the plate to help and speak up for her peers. She goes above and beyond the call of duty whenever her help is needed. She handles any negativity with grace and calm. Because of her ways, all who work and interact with Jeannine respect her beyond measure.

Sydney Brown , Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by David Schlick

Sydney is my player of strongest character this season. She shows our coaches and her teammates the ultimate in respect. She was named by her teammates as a captain and for good reason. I have been so proud of Sydney for standing up for her team, but even more impressed with her ability to use a combination of respect and honesty through tough situations, carrying herself appropriately and communicating effectively. This has been a breakout year for Sydney as a player and a woman of character.

Isabella Chamalbide , Valley Life Charter School, Visalia
nominated by Cheryl Oliver

Isabella is a fifth-grade student this year and I had the privilege of having her in my fourth-grade class last year. She amazes me and demands a stronger teacher out of me because of who she is and how she carries herself. Over the two years with Isabella, I have witnessed classmates learn from her honesty and not "follow" the norm of what everybody else was doing in action and attitude. I saw a shift in my classroom take place where it was safe to be honest and be respected for it. Isabella reaches out beyond the perimeter of judgement; her actions model the building blocks of respect in a classroom environment. Isabella encourages others to see past judgement. Thank you for creating in me a bigger acknowledgement of what respect means at all times and in all situations.

Jaime Valdez , Valley Oak Middle School, Visalia
nominated by Jameson Endres

Jaime played three after-school sports teams last school year. I had the privilege of coaching Jaime during football and baseball. Jaime is a leader among his peers with not only his actions, but also his words. On more than one occasion I have overheard Jaime sitting with peers and defending the choices made by a coach or teacher when the steps taken by school staff were not popular among students. I've found through interactions with Jaime's parents that the signs of respect I see in Jaime are directly influenced by his parents. I could nominate Jaime for all of the pillars, as he is worthy of such recognition. Although a humble young man, I feel this is the pillar that Jaime would most like to be recognized for, and will work hard every day to maintain such status.

Responsibility honorees

Top Honorees:

Edith Guijon , Woodlake High School, Woodlake
nominated by Jason Ferreira

Edith has been a positive influence towards much of the success with the Woodlake High School Future Farmers of American (FFA) program. Recently, Woodlake FFA began a new Supervised Agriculture Experience Project for the Tulare County Fair. Edith served as flock manager for the Market Meat Pen of Chickens Cooperative project. Raising Meat Chickens for fair is no easy task. Her daily responsibilities included monitoring the temperature of the barn, refilling water and feed containers, identifying health issues with the birds, controlling pest problems, and overall maintenance of the facility. Edith has shown her high level of responsibility, and leaving the flock of 25 meat birds in her hands was effortless and low anxiety for her FFA Advisor and team mates. She is a student that can be relied upon to get the job done and do the job right. Edith also serves in multiple leadership positions at the local chapter and the county sectional FFA levels. Thank you, Edith, for helping set the bar high for responsibility within Woodlake High School and the Woodlake FFA Chapter. Edith, we hope you continue to showcase how responsibility plays a key role in bettering yourself and your community, where character really counts!

Emily Thompson , Pixley Elementary School, Pixley
nominated by Jason Lee, Dena Deatherage

Emily Thompson is one of those students that comes along once in a career. Emily involves herself with every possible extra-curricular activity including, Cadets, Poetry and Prose, Reading Revolution, Spelling Bee and school leadership. She is currently the student body president and she is an ambitious, creative leader who is always willing to step up and help others. As a member of Pixley’s Central Valley Cadets, Charlie Company, she was able to command much older cadets to three trophies in our annual Drill Competition last year. The commands for the competition changed two days before the competition and Emily had them memorized within an hour. When there is any project to be done, she is the one that selflessly makes sure it gets done, and gives credit to those who deserve it. Her peers acknowledge and appreciate her level of responsibility. When her peers were asked who should be the first “Character Counts” recipient, Emily received 20 out of 23 votes from her classmates. Emily is the epitome of great character and models it in all aspects of her life on a daily basis.


Chris Martinez , Monache High School, Porterville
nominated by Carmel Spaulding

Last summer, Chris served as the high school intern for Monache High School’s Agriculture Department. The Monache Agricultural staff relied upon Chris to perform various duties on the school farm. He faithfully kept to his contract agreement, as well as effectively communicated to the agriculture teachers about his role in the day-to-day management of the farm. What makes this Character Counts! nomination so unique is the fact that Chris is only a sophomore in high school. He was selected as a freshman to become the agriculture intern for the school’s ag department. Chris stepped up to the challenge placed upon him and did an outstanding job for the agriculture department. The staff at the Monache Ag department is very proud to nominate Chris Martinez as its Character Counts! candidate in the Pillar of Responsibility.

Jazmine Soto , Strathmore Middle School, Strathmore
nominated by Stephen Sobko

In all of my years of teaching and coaching, Jazmine is the most responsible student-athlete I have ever met. In fifth-grade, she was able to lead her classmates in various classroom activities which were new to the students as if she had done them for years. Later that year, she competed against eighth-grade students in our school’s annual track meet and earned first-place in all three of her events. Her sense of responsibility transcends what I believe could be accomplished by any middle school student. She takes all of her tasks throughout her day seriously and has the respect of all of her peers, teachers and family members.

Jessie Munoz , Tulare Western High School, Tulare
nominated by Jesse Ramos, Marisela Gomez, Dereck Domingues

You can always count on Jessie to be doing the right thing, even when no one else bothers to do so. He's a team player; he takes responsibility for himself and his teammates. If there is someone off task in the classroom or on the football field, Jessie always tries to redirect them. In football, he is usually the first one on the field at practice and, at games, the last one off the bus to make sure trash is picked up. He currently holds the job of bringing out vital team equipment, setting it up and putting it away after practice, a job which he assigned himself to. He is determined to do his very best in everything he does and always takes the opportunity to go above and beyond, whether or not anyone notices. This is a young man with high moral standards and high expectations of himself who deserves to be recognized.

Brenda Arambula , Woodlake Valley Middle School, Woodlake
nominated by Courtney Hengst, Sharla Phillips

Brenda could truly be nominated for all Six Pillars of Character because of all of her outstanding qualities. Having to choose just one pillar to describe Brenda – it would be responsibility above the rest. She is always prepared and organized for her classes as well as her extracurricular activities. From staying late to finish up a leadership project to researching ahead on a topic for an upcoming class assignment, you know Brenda will be ready for any task at hand. Brenda is always on time and she keeps her promises to classmates, teammates, teachers, friends and family. Brenda Arambula exemplifies what responsibility should always look like, feel like and sound like!

Fairness honorees

Top Honorees:

Yannina Minguela , Roosevelt Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Elvia Meza

Yannina is an open-minded student; she is always willing to try new games and new ideas. This is important because it helps her continue to grow. It also helps her to believe in herself and when other students see that type of attitude, it motivates them to grow. She is also a great listener and waits her turn when sharing ideas. On the playground, Yannina plays by the rules and is fair in taking turns with the equipment. I have often witnessed Yannina sharing the equipment and allowing others to join in. Yannina is really good at sports, but I have never witnessed her showing off or treating others less because she is better. She is not one to take advantage of others or blame others carelessly. Yannina truly treats everyone fairly.

Suri Moguel-Moguel , Highland Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Marivel Villarreal

Suri has demonstrated knowledge of the meaning behind the word "fair". Although it means playing by the rules, at times its more than just while playing games. Upon the arrival of a new student to our classroom, I overheard Suri explain to the new student why a student in our class has a different set of goals for classwork. I could sense her frustration as she proceeded to explain, but the new student continued to say its "unfair" that we have to do all the work and he doesn't. Finally, Suri took a deep breath and said, "It’s unfair that you don't want to listen to what I am saying. We are trying to help him." Suri’s response left me breathless. What Suri was trying to convey is that we are all a team while learning and playing by the rules means we all help each other.


Derek Schaub , Kings River Union School, Kingsburg
nominated by Kristi Blatner

Derek is a mature young man who has the trust of all staff members at Kings River Union School. Derek has a deep faith and he has the grace to live out his beliefs instead of just speaking about them. Derek is kind when others are not, honest when others remain silent and a leader through his consistent, steady actions. There is a student on campus who struggles with school-yard friendships. Derek told his mother that he felt he should be his friend, and has been unfailing in his inclusion of this student for more than a year now. He has been such an example, that others in the "popular" circle of friends include this boy as well. Derek could be nominated for all pillars because of his reputation as a young man of great character, but his example of caring about others makes a great and effective impression on all.

Caleb Kennerley , Monson-Sultana School, Sultana
nominated by Stephen Miller

I am nominating Caleb because of his actions on the soccer field at recess. I have been teaching many years, I have served a lot of recess duties and I have seen a lot of students playing. I have been watching Caleb play soccer for the past three years and have been impressed by Caleb’s sportsmanship at such a young age. I've never had to break up a quarrel during any game he has been in or been called over to resolve a dispute. Caleb is a leader on the field and imparts an attitude of wanting to play the game fairly. He has been on teams that have won and lost over the years, and you can’t tell the outcome of the game by looking at Caleb. He is more excited about playing and improving than he is in winning. This is a rare and valuable quality to have and keep.

Selena Velasquez , Vandalia Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Jovita Dabney

When I think of fairness, I think of Selena. Being fair is one of the most important ingredients of being a good person. It is also key to making the world a peaceful place. Selena has a younger sister and many times I see Selena sharing and playing with her sister at recess. Ask her classmates and they will say Selena takes turns and plays by the rules. She is honest and never complains. I am honored to have her in my class this year as an excellent role model for all!

Katelin Cortez , Waukena School, Tulare
nominated by Melinda Mills

Katelin knows what is right and wrong and can be counted on by Waukena’s school staff, her classmates, and her parents to do the right thing. Katelin cares about others and if there is a problem or situation where someone may be hurt or bullied, Katelin is confident enough to let adults know. She has earned the respect of classmates and school staff. She is a member of the school leadership team this year and a wonderful role model for our entire campus!

Caring honorees

Top Honorees:

Pedro Jimenez Lopez , Granite Hills High School, Porterville
nominated by Tiffany Ross

Pedro is an absolute gentleman. Just ask Mrs. Sanford. He is kind, caring, compassionate, and always willing to help in any way possible. Here is an example of his character: At a recent volleyball game, one of our teachers, Mrs. Sanford, fell down after slipping in water on the gym floor. Pedro came over, helped her up, asked her if she was alright, escorted her to sit down, and placed trash cans around the spill until the custodian came to mop it up. He left briefly and came back with a cold drink for her, checking on her well-being throughout the game. The next morning, while I was in her room learning about her fall, Pedro walked in and said "I am here to see how you are today, Mrs. Sanford. Are you feeling ok?" We all melted. As his teacher, I can tell you he is the same with me. If I need a volunteer, something heavy moved, or trash picked up, he will be the first to assist you. In my 26 years of teaching, I have had my share of sweet and compassionate kids. However, I have never seen anyone like Pedro. He is so genuine and does everything selflessly. He isn't looking for a pat on the back or some type of recognition. He helps because he truly cares about people. His compassion is not just for staff, but peers as well. He is well liked and respected by all.

Makenna Wood , Valley Life Charter School, Visalia
nominated by Barbara Shy, Brandi Travis

Makenna is always ready and willing to help out a student who is in need. Last year, she had been trained as a peer tutor to help a student with special needs. This year, I noticed that the student with special needs was struggling. I had asked Makenna if she could do me a favor, and her response was "Of course, I will do whatever you need." I had asked her to sit next to the student and she has helped him gain confidence in understanding the concepts that are being taught in class. Before Makenna sat next to this student, he did not participate in class because he was not confident in himself. Makenna has helped him gain confidence in himself. Regardless of any situation, Makenna has no attitude of urgency or impatience. She is encouraging, positive, compassionate, and considerate. She is forgiving of others and shows a true desire to help people in need. Makenna truly has a servant’s heart and gives 100% of herself to making others feel positive.


Parker Boles , Alpine Vista School, Tulare
nominated by Summer Grissom

Parker was in my kindergarten class two years ago – a year that I ended up on bed rest for several months due to a complex pregnancy. Prior to my absence, Parker was an outstanding attribute to our classroom. He never said an unkind word to anyone, he worked tirelessly to advance academically, and he always had a huge smile on his face. Despite my absence, Parker kept in touch through cards and messages. This year, I moved to another school site. I love both schools and my current class, but often miss my former students and wonder how they are doing. Well, one-day Parker made a special delivery to me – it was a card with a picture he had drawn of me and himself on it with a message that said, “Dear Mrs. Grissom, I miss you – keep the kindness going. I hope you have a good day.” That sweet card and his caring heart reminded me exactly why I am in this profession. Parker's kindness transcends schools, locations, and time. His huge heart and genuine soul are to be applauded.

Yadira Barajas , COS Commnity Based Instruction, Visalia
nominated by Susan Wendt

While attending the COS Community Based Instruction Class, Yadira has not only learned what each Pillar of Character means, but she has also learned how to be a living example of each Pillar of Character in her everyday life. Yadira treats her classmates with respect by treating them the way she would like to be treated. She is almost always willing to help without waiting to be asked. She will remind her classmates of what they are supposed to be doing without being bossy. Picture in your mind a beautiful, young lady with a smile on her face and a caring heart; if you can see this person, you can see Yadira.

Ethan Rocchi , La Sierra Military Academy, Visalia
nominated by Alfredo Saenz

Ethan is one my meal servers for breakfast and lunch. He always shows up ready to get the job done. He is always kind and respectful to me, staff, and cadets. Ethan happens to be the only male who volunteers to help. The reason I mention this is because of the following situation: Some of the other female servers have occasionally had problems or opinions about other female servers or cadets. Recently, a female cadet return to school and I noticed she wasn't feeling very welcomed by some of the cadets. Ethan never batted an eye and greeted her literally with open arms! He even offered to let her take his spot if she really wanted to continue with the serving duties. Ethan is a great example of how a young man should act and carry himself at all times.

Adrian Rodriguez , Pleasant View Elementary School, Poplar
nominated by Tashima Irving

Adrian is not only an academically strong student who is well behaved and full of personality, but he also has a heart of gold. There is a student in our class that often needs help completing assignments and staying on task. Adrian has taken on the responsibility of assisting this student. He will provide the student with coaching and support during group and individual work. There is just a special way about Adrian that makes my spirit smile. Several times during instruction, I have looked over at Adrian and the student and they will each have placed one hand on the other's shoulder as they listen to the lessons. Adrian is not afraid to step up and be the much needed support for the other student. In doing so, he reminds us all that it is critical for educators to create a safe environment for every student in the classroom regardless of their academic level, economic level, social skills, or gender.

Citizenship honorees

Top Honorees:

Nolan Montgomery , El Diamante High School, Visalia
nominated by Melissa Garcia, Joy Naylor, Joy Bratton, Tanya Perez, Danielle Griffiths

Nolan serves as a role model not only to students on our campus, but to youth in our community. He has pride in all that he does and encourages his peers to be respectful. Nolan has focused on his academics throughout his four years at El Diamante, challenging himself with a rigorous course pattern, including several Advance Placement courses. In addition, he has contributed to the El Diamante athletic program as a student-athlete being a captain in football and soccer and member of the baseball team. In class, Nolan has the ability to ask thought-provoking questions that get everyone in the class excited about what we are studying. And while he is firm in his moral and ethical beliefs, he never makes anyone who does not share his beliefs feel belittled; on the contrary, he listens respectfully, trying to see the other person’s point of view. It is this ability to empathize that makes even reluctant speakers want to have a conversation with him. Nolan is appreciated and respected by adults and students as he is genuine, listens well, displays empathy, engages in productive and enjoyable communication and, through his words and behaviors, shows kindness, understanding, and makes others feel happy and better about themselves. This past year has been a difficult one for Nolan, as a close of friend of his took his life. As you can imagine, Nolan’s close involvement with his best friend brought a lot of attention, sadness, and stress. In a situation which could easily cause trauma, Nolan amazingly rose above this with grace, integrity and sanity. In grieving, Nolan was supporting others and offering words of encouragement while he himself quietly grieved. Through the year, Nolan continued to excel at academics, and would work on the side and earn money to donate to the suicide prevention task force. The Golden Rule does not need to be taught to Nolan, as it comes naturally to him. When, as an adult, you look to a student and quietly say to yourself, “I want the qualities that that student has”, you know you have met someone special and deserving of all things wonderful. If the character of Nolan could be bottled up and shared, the world would be a better place.

Brianna Stephens , Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Amy Bailey

Brianna is a student who values all types of community service. For her first 2.5 years of high school, she has found time and ways to assist each of her teachers. She has worked as a lines crewman at several home football games, worked the snack bars at several athletic events, works the table at home volleyball matches, and referees youth sporting events for Cherry Avenue Middle School and Tulare recreational leagues. She is also a very advanced varsity athlete, particularly in the sport of softball. Even with her busy schedule, she has found time to coach a girl’s 10-year-old fall softball team. Brianna also plays on a travel softball team herself and the team recently took first-place at a tournament. During the championship game, Brianna noticed one of her own 10-year-old players staying for the championship game to cheer and watch her compete. Following the tournament’s championship ceremony, Brianna gave her championship medal to that 10-year-old girl, Kiley Robertson. Brianna is a generous role model that has already had such a huge impact on young girls in our county, and we thank you!


Joseph Covarrubias , Granite Hills High School, Porterville
nominated by Lora Haston

During the 2015-16 school year, Joseph distinguished himself as an outstanding citizen at Alta Vista School. Throughout the year, he volunteered as a kindergarten tutor, served as the Alta Vista mascot, and carried out numerous duties as a member of the Alta Vista Student Council. His reputation as an outstanding citizen began at the 2015 Annual Alta Vista Veterans Day Celebration. At this event, Joseph volunteered to sing Alan Jackson’s Where Were You?. Joseph rendered his version of this riveting song with the purity and sincerity that is unique to youth. During the eighth-grade graduation, Joseph sang a duet with a fellow graduate and offered her subtle support and encouragement to finish the performance. By definition, a good citizen makes his school and community a better place and steps forward in subtle, oftentimes unnoticed ways to support and encourage the achievements of others. Joseph Covarrubias represents the qualities of citizenship by his very nature.

Andrew Taylor , Lincoln Elementary School, Exeter
nominated by Casey Munger

Andrew is highly respected by his peers. His classmates feel comfortable asking him for help and he is always willing to lend a hand. He has a wonderful attitude and has great insight for our classroom discussions. One of his classmates wrote, “For Character Counts, I choose Andrew because I have seen him help kids not only in the classroom, but at recess when kids are hurt. He takes control when things go wrong and is a leader to others.” Another student wrote, “Andrew always helps other people and he adds to our group discussions. He makes sure everyone gets the answer right, and is always nice.” Once again, I couldn’t agree more with all the wonderful things Andrew’s peers said about him. He is a true role model, and to quote a fellow classmate, “Andrew is basically a genius.”

Jesslyn Garcia , Oak Grove Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Mario Valdez, Josie and Efrain Garcia

At such a young age, Jesslyn displays genuine awareness of the needs of peers, staff and our community. She has gone above and beyond in the area of citizenship. Her family has been involved in numerous community service projects and Jesslyn has truly adopted the service-learning spirit. One of her favorite missions is the ADOPT A CHILD FOR CHRISTMAS project, through which Jesslyn selflessly volunteers her time to provide gifts to underprivileged children. Foregoing presents of her own, she says, “I don’t need gifts; I like giving the kids a gift.” Her joy is to shop, wrap and deliver presents to other children. Her beautiful heart also surrounds her four-year-old brother Aaron, a boy affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder who receives most of the family’s daily attention. Jesslyn never questions his needs and, as siblings, they share a special love. We are all so proud of Jesslyn; she is loved by everyone, her peers, teachers and staff.

Woodlake High School Recycle Club
including: Uriel Cordero, Phoebe Esque, Noemi Franco. TJ Gilbert, John Perez, Skye Perez, Jacquelin Ruelas, Anthony Torres, Christina Trujillo, and Jeorge Valdez-Meza.
nominated by Aurora Medina, Dominque Biello
The Woodlake High School Recycle Club was formed in April 2016. Since then, this group of students has promoted environmental awareness on our immediate campus. The students pick up and sort materials for recycling from more than 20 campus locations twice each week. They recycle paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass. Since the club began with no recycle bins, they created their own out of large boxes and decorated them. The students who lead the club are students in grades 9-12 with exceptional needs. Not only do these students spread environmental awareness through their actions, but they also have the opportunity to participate in a club on campus where they feel safe and productive.

For more information about the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, visit


or contact Kelley Petty, Program Coordinator, at kelleyp@tcoe.org or call (559) 740-4303.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nationwide initiative which embraces the six core values mentioned above. These values, common in a democratic society, can be taught by teachers, parents and community members to build and develop character in youth. The CHARACTER COUNTS! program is provided to the schools in the 43 districts administered by the Tulare County Office of Education.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a service mark of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.