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Thank you for helping us celebrate Tulare County Students of Character!

Thanks to your participation, nearly 4,400 young people from 154 schools in Tulare County were recognized.

On Sunday, October 22, the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register published a four-page ad highlighting the school representatives (one from each of the 154 schools submitted) chosen during the 2023 Kids of Character Week, October 16-22. View the weekend insert and descriptions of the students featured in the ad. The descriptions are also available by county region below.

North County
Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District
Dinuba AcCEL – Community Based Instruction Program
Dinuba Unified School District
Kings River Union School District
Monson-Sultana Joint Union School District
Orosi AcCEL - Community Based Instruction Program
Stone Corral School District
Three Rivers Union School District
Traver Joint School District
Visalia Unified (Elbow Creek Elementary, Ivanhoe Elementary)
Woodlake Unified School District
Yettem AcCEL Learning Center

Central County
Grace Christian School
The Academies Charter Management Organization (Blue Oak Academy, Sycamore Valley Academy)
University Preparatory High School
Visalia Unified School District

East County
Alta Vista School District
Burton School District
Ducor Union School District
Exeter Unified School District
Farmersville Unified School District
Hope School District
Lindsay Unified School District
Pleasant View School District
Porterville AcCEL Program - Community Based Instruction Program
Porterville Unified School District
Richgrove School District
Saucelito School District
Springville Union School District
St. Anne’s School
Strathmore Union School District
Sunnyside Union School District
Woodville School District

South County
Alpaugh Unified School District
Buena Vista School District
Earlimart School District
Liberty School District
Oak Valley Union School District
Palo Verde Union School District
Pixley Union School District
Sundale Union School District
Tipton School District
Tulare City School District
Tulare Joint Union High School District
Waukena Joint Union School District

To view the names of nearly 4,400 students nominated by teachers, parents, and community members, click on one of the lists below.

2023 Kids of Character Nominees by Student Name
2023 Kids of Character Nominees by School Site
2023 Kids of Character Nominees by Pillar

2023 Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees

Of the nearly 4,400 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 30 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards. On November 1, an in-person celebration was held to present certificates, scholarships, and other awards to these special honorees. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students. Special performance of the National Anthem by Ognjen Spajic, Tulare Union High School Foreign Exchange student from Serbia.



Top Honoree:

Zada Delgado
Farmersville High School, Farmersville
nominated by Audrey Westbrook

Nominator Audrey Westbrook says, "Day two of school this year Zada came into class and immediately handed me some cash. When I looked at her puzzled, she told me it was on the ground, she knew it wasn't hers and wanted to try to get it to who dropped it. I find less and less students exhibiting such honesty and integrity. Many these days would just pocket the money and think nothing of it. Zada's honesty and thoughtfulness really struck me and filled my heart with pride. I have had Zada for the past 3 years now and she has always been a kind, caring and trustworthy student. I would love to see her recognized for being so great!"
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Zada.


Amerah Ambriz
Sunnyside Union School, Strathmore  
nominated by Alicia Franco

Nominator Alicia Franco says, “Amerah has consistently shown integrity and reliability in various ways. For instance, when a classmate lost their belongings, Amerah ensured the items were returned promptly. Additionally, during group projects she always contributes her fair share of work and gives credit where it's due. Her responsible behavior with classroom materials – always returning them in good condition – further highlights her trustworthiness. These actions make her a role model for her peers and a person others can always count on.”

Brenda Orozco Tapia
Butterfield Charter School, Porterville   
nominated by Salvador Garcia 

Nominator Salvador Garcia says, “Brenda follows through with her commitments and can be counted on to keep her promises. In our program, we meet regularly for one hour. She earns her credits every week like clockwork. Her scheduled time is the last period of the day. Normally, it takes her longer than that to complete her weekly exams, so she comes  early so as not to keep me here at our site after hours waiting for her to finish. Brenda is trustworthy and follows through with her studies, even with her part-time job duties.”

Zavier Palomino   
Visalia Technical Early College High School, Visalia
nominated by Travis Wyrick

Nominator Travis Wyrick says, “Everyone knows Zavier as Mr. Fix-It on campus. He has established a reputation for being quiet and reserved, but guarantees completion. Trusted with every piece of equipment on campus, he can operate and troubleshoot any situation. He is capable enough to know when he needs help and confident enough to speak up and ask for the help when he needs it. Zavier is trusted and relied upon by staff and students and willing to greet both with a smile whenever he can. Author Brian Tracy said in the book, How the Best Leaders Lead, ‘The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between the leader and the led – is trust, and trust is based on integrity.’ Zavier holds the trust of those around him and is a leader because of his trustworthiness.”

Haley Vasquez
Kings River Union School, Kingsburg  
nominated by Randi Amador

Nominator Randi Amador says, “I appreciate how Haley watched out for her peers last year in class and helped them make good choices. She wasn't afraid to voice her opinion when someone wasn't following the school motto, P.R.I.D.E.  I could also count on Haley to complete all of her classwork, collaborate with peers, and follow all of the school expectations. I look forward to watching Haley set and accomplish both her personal and academic goals while at Kings River. Her strong work ethic, integrity, and positive attitude will ensure that she is successful in life.”


Top Honoree:

Izamary Merida Solano
Roche Avenue Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Cassie Rapp

Nominator Cassie Rapp says, "Izamary is consistently respectful to her friends, peers, and teachers. She is always on task during every lesson, following directions, giving eye contact and participating. Izamary is eager to learn as much as she can. She volunteers to contribute in class discussions, even though I can tell she is nervous to speak, because she is an English Learner and still becoming fluent in speaking English. When working collaboratively, Izamary works hard and helps her group mates when they are struggling to understand a concept. Roche Avenue Elementary received a new student a few weeks into the school year. This student was placed in our 6th grade class. Izamary volunteered to sit at the table group with her. Izamary is this new student's shoulder partner. Izamary took the new student under her wing and has helped her feel very welcome and safe at Roche Avenue Elementary School. I am so grateful to have Izamary as a student. Our new students often struggle to feel comfortable in a new environment, especially in 6th grade, where many students have known one another since Kindergarten. She has done a great job of representing the pillar of respect!"
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Izamary.


Tarin Alaniz-Mederos 
Garden Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Charisse Hastings 

Nominator Charisse Hastings says, “I wish I had the ability to select all of the pillars on Tarin's behalf! He is a trustworthy young man, a pillar in the community, a respectful and responsible student leader, and a caring human. Tarin is an amazing athlete who plays his sport with a level head and encourages his teammates to do the same. I've had the privilege of being Tarin's teacher in past years and have watched him grow into the young man he is today. He has a heart of gold that loves to serve and care for others. Tarin is the student who will leave a game of basketball at recess to ask the lone student to join in on the game. He is an example to his peers in words and actions. When he sets a goal for himself, there is no stopping him.”

Alexander Flores
Cutler Elementary School, Cutler 
nominated by Megan Thiessen

Nominator Megan Thiessen says, “Alexander comes to school with an attitude of giving, community  service, and respect for every student and staff around him. We have two students who are newcomers to this country and he has taken on the role of facilitator, translator, and the general go-to person in our class to help. Alexander shows these students how we are expected to learn and does it in a very respectful way. He wants them to feel not only welcomed but also cared about in our classroom. Having a student like Alexander in my class is such a blessing. His kind nature and respectful ways make a world of difference in our classroom community.”

KaiLee Gilbert
Tulare Union High School, Tulare      
nominated by Bailey Akins, Ivan Arce and Mark Hatton 

Nominators Bailey Akins, Ivan Arce and Mark Hatton say, “KaiLee shows respect on and off the field/court. We have had the privilege of coaching KaiLee in both basketball and softball and she has shown such great character in everything she does. She shows respect to her teammates, opponents, coaches, and – most importantly – she respects the game she’s playing. KaiLee works hard and always treats others the way she wants to be treated. KaiLee has been faced with many challenges that could cause her to lose her good character, but she takes those challenges and uses them to make her a stronger person.”

Jerusalem Juarez
Roosevelt Elementary School, Tulare 
nominated by Cristal Campos

Nominator Cristal Campos says, “Jerusalem consistently demonstrates our school's core values of being respectful, responsible, and having a positive attitude toward creating new relationships in and out of the classroom. Jerusalem comes to school everyday with a big smile, and is always ready to learn. She consistently uses good manners and treats others the way she wants to be treated. When she speaks to me and any other adult she is polite and respectful. I have also had the opportunity to see her interact with her classmates and she always treats them with kindness. I am so proud of you, Jerusalem. Keep up the good work!”


Top Honoree:

Grecia Arellano Armenta
Sundale Union School, Tulare
nominated by Brittany Grieb

Nominator Brittany Grieb says, "Grecia Arellano Armenta - an incredible example of how determination can get you where you dream of being. She came to our country just last year, not knowing much English. She had to work hard. To learn the language, she had to fully immerse herself, being vulnerable to learn it. She has this language barrier hindering her learning, so she works twice as hard, without complaint! She has a love for volleyball, and tried out and made the Varsity team! Grecia is a joy to watch on the court and inside the classroom. She doesn’t let fear of failure get in her way. Her vulnerability is inspiring, and it’s laying off. Her English has grown immensely and I’m extremely grateful to be one of her 8th grade teachers to get a front row seat to watch her do great things!"
Read the  Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Grecia.


Jonathan Brown
AcCEL - Porterville Community Based Instruction Program, Porterville 
nominated by  John Cemo

Nominator John Cemo says, “Jonathan saw an incident on the bus involving one of his classmates and was concerned about it happening again. Jonathan talked to his friend and told him that he needed to discuss the problem with me, but his friend was afraid that he would get in trouble. Jonathan was so worried about his classmate that he took it upon himself to bring the problem to my attention. Because of his actions we were able to resolve the problems that were occurring so they will not happen again. Because of his actions, and wanting to do the right thing, I am nominating Jonathan for the Pillar  of Responsibility.”

Juan Davalos
Accelerated Charter High School, Tulare
nominated by Desiree Ledbetter

Nominator Desiree Ledbetter says, “Juan has been excelling in his school studies. In addition to his stellar academic efforts, he tries his best to help support his mother, who takes care of him and his siblings. He is very bright, excels in all of his classes, and refuses to give up on finding a job even though entry into the workforce is difficult. He has high hopes for his future and is always friendly to his peers. He is a very responsible student and always doing what he is supposed to do to make sure he reaches his goals.”

Faith Ramos
Virtual Learning Program, Visalia
nominated by Heather Mackey

Nominator Heather Mackey says, “Faith has made some great strides in her academic growth. She has had challenges she's had to overcome and yet she has worked hard to remain focused. Faith has been coached by her grandmother to persevere, looking to always find a way to improve and put in the work necessary to be the change that will one day pay off for her in very big ways. The days of just surviving are quickly becoming a thing of the past for her and she has a very bright and exciting future ahead of her. I can't wait to see not just what the world has to offer her, but what she has to offer the world!”

Avery Starr
Tulare Western High School, Tulare
nominated by Katherine Nunes

Nominator Katherine Nunes says, “Avery is a dedicated student who challenges herself with the most rigorous courses and has earned and continues to earn straight As. Along with academics, Avery excels in athletics and FFA. She is a top player and natural leader for the TW volleyball team, and is also a key member of the basketball and swim teams. Avery is very involved in agriculture education. She is in FFA where she raises and shows cows and is part of the state champion Ag Issues team. Avery has an incredible ability to balance all of her commitments and still shine in each one. She is well respected and liked by her peers and the staff. She gives her all and is a team player, working effectively with others and keeping a positive attitude. Avery is just an all-around incredible student and human!”


Top Honoree:

Tulare Western High School Girls Water Polo Team
Tulare Western High School, Tulare
nominated by Veronica Covert

Nominator Veronica Covert says, "The Tulare Western High School Girls Water Polo team are the fairest and friendliest ladies with our students and staff. This year, we have a Down Syndrome student named Ava Fernandes and they have taken her under their wings. On a campus of over 1800 students, they have made the transition to high school much smoother for Ava! They invite her to the team lunches. Members of the team often find her on campus and hang out with her at lunches and breaks. They are always inviting her to have lunch with them. When it’s time to go to class they will walk with her to class. They have accompanied her to the bus for her Ag class. And Ava is not asking them to walk with her, they genuinely care about her and want to help her any way they can! Ava is loved at TW and especially by the Tulare Western Girls Water Polo Team! Ava’s older sister is on the Varsity Water polo team, so Ava attends many of the games. The team is always excited to have her cheering them on!!"

Selection committee observation:
All the pillars are interconnected and enjoy a positive symbiotic relationship i.e., they enhance the qualities of the other pillars.  In addition, understanding this relationship is essential in making ethical and effective decisions. 

The case of the TWHS girl’s water polo team is a perfect example of this interconnected relationship.  The team did not prejudge Ava; that is to say judge her before knowing all the relevant facts.  By including Ava, they did not judge her by the way she looked, they judged her on the content of her character, thereby exhibiting their own compassion and kindness.

When making a decision, we know that we are to consider the stakeholders and to identify the relevant pillars of character.  Then we make the decision we sincerely believe will produce the Best Possible Result. 

The TWHS girl’s water polo team did exactly that.

Read the  Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Tulare Western High School Girls Water Polo Team.


Aiden Dowdy
Visalia Technical Early College High School, Visalia 
nominated by Travis Wyrick

Nominator Travis Wyrick says, “Aiden is the FFA Chapter Cotton Team Captain and has been a member of the team for the last four years. Aiden seeks to see others be successful, and ensure that they have the opportunity and tools available to them. Aiden is willing to work with everyone and genuinely wants to see others do their best, even if their best means beating him. He has been a source of consistency at VTEC and in the FFA Program, yet he is humble enough to play down his successes in the presence of others. Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘It is not fair to ask of someone else what you are not willing to do yourself.’ Aiden lives up to being a fair person willing to do, willing to try, and willing to support others.”

Macie E. Mosley
Linwood Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Pauline Jimenez-Sanchez

Nominator Pauline Jimenez-Sanchez says, “Macie has the class job of being in charge of our computer cart. Her job is to make sure everyone receives their laptop every day. She has to make sure that their laptops are fully charged and that her classmates' computers are placed in the correct spot on the cart before the end of the day. Macie works hard on this every day! She is also very helpful toward her classmates. Macie is always willing to help any of her classmates that are in need. I am very proud of Macie and I am so very happy that she is in my class this year. I am honored to be her teacher! ”

Samuel Ortega 
Redwood High School, Visalia
nominated by Xicotencatl Rojas

Nominator Xicotencatl Rojas says, “In the short period of time I have known Samuel, he has exemplified what it means to be fair. He is a model student in class that brings a sense of justice and peace to his peers. He plays by the rules in both sports and academics. Even though he is only a sophomore, his strong work ethic has earned him a place on the varsity football program. He, along with the class, helped create a social contract where he voiced strong opinions which made sense and came from a fair place.”

Addyson Vera
Alpine Vista School, Tulare
nominated by Jenna Porchia

Nominator Jenna Porchia says, “Addyson has already made an impression on her teachers and classmates as one who is kind, respectful, and fair. She makes sure that everyone at her table gets a chance to speak during group discussions. She also shows fairness on the volleyball court. She works well with her teammates and does not hog the ball. She makes sure everyone gets a chance to do their best and get their practice in, and she even suggests drills that would benefit the team as a whole. She is a student and athlete of great character!”


Top Honoree:

Alejandro Chavarin
Palo Verde Union School, Tulare
nominated by Audra Sanchez

Nominator Audra Sanchez says, "Alejandro recognized that another student had been wearing shoes that were not in the best condition, they had holes in them. Alejandro went home and told his Mom that he wanted to buy a new pair of shoes for this student. Alejandro did not make his caring gesture known, and brought the student the pair of new shoes in a bag and gave it to him discreetly, without telling anyone. A school aide happened to see this gesture and brought it to my attention. I wrote Alejandro’s Mom letting her know how kind Alejandro was for doing that. She told me Alejandro would mention feeling bad for this friend often and that’s when his Mom took him to get the shoes. She let Alejandro know that nobody has to know what he’s doing as long as it comes from his heart. She explained that it was an act of kindness and not something to gloat about. She said that day after he got home, he didn’t talk about it much but could see he wanted to cry.

This story touches my heart and is something I have never seen a student do before. Alejandro is the definition of caring and he deserves this award for his generosity and kindness."
Read the  Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Alejandro.


Josiah A. Diaz
Pinkham Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Jennifer Kirkman

Nominator Jennifer Kirkman says, “While Josiah is a strong individual, he is equally emphatic. Josiah deeply cares about his family, his classmates, teachers, and staff. Part of my role as a school counselor is to implement a schoolwide kindness week. When I was talking with him about kindness week, he asked me if he could get additional cards to thank staff members and students who have helped him. He is continually looking for an extra person to thank and exhibits genuine gratitude. With Josiah, it is a genuine deep interest in helping his fellow community members. His level of responsibility is above that of most students I work with 一 he genuinely feels a desire to be a change agent in our  community."  

Mateo Perez Rodriguez 
Westfield Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Angelica Bermudez

Nominator Angelica Bermudez says, “Mateo comes to school every single day with the happiest attitude and positive aura. He greets not just teachers, but most staff members, with a big smile. He is outgoing, expressive, and enjoys giving hugs and smiles. When a classmate is in need, Mateo is quick to find an adult. On the first day of school, he made his teacher a paper flower bouquet and said he made it out of paper so they would last forever. He is very empathetic and always tries to make others feel better when he sees they might be upset. He is honest, treats all staff and students with respect, and loves to give. He is hardworking, loves to learn, and always does his absolute best.”

Melissa Rodriguez
Strathmore Elementary School, Strathmore    
nominated by Joni Medina

Nominator Joni Medina says, “Melissa exemplifies kindness to anyone lucky enough to cross her path. She has integrity as she doesn't do kind deeds in hope of recognition. Melissa does not expect anyone to notice or comment when she quietly lends a helping hand or shows generosity. One of the many times I caught her being thoughtful was when she went to my class treasure box. After earning a month's worth of stickers, she finally got to pick a treasure. On her way out of my  classroom, I asked her what she chose. With the biggest smile, Melissa held up a toy truck and said, ‘I got a toy for my baby brother!’ Undoubtedly, Melissa's kindness makes the world a better place! ”

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

Nominator Tashima Irving says, “This young man has already touched so many teachers and students with his genuine heart and compassionate character. I witnessed Ricardo giving a student a gentle pat on the back when they were in our classroom library.  He was encouraging the student regarding a situation. Facial expressions told it all when they both looked at each other and smiled as Ricardo patted him on the back letting him know everything was okay. There was another situation where Ricardo and another student didn't know whose $5 of classroom money was left on the table. The student thought it was his and Ricardo couldn't remember if he left it there or if it really belonged to the other student. Instead of  arguing, Ricardo gave the student the $5 without hesitation. He truly deserves to be recognized for his caring character.”


Top Honoree:

Mission Oak High School Girls Basketball Players: Sierra Calantas, Jaelyn Flores, Natalie Madrigal, Lily Rodriguez, Sarah Rodriguez, Phoenix Ryan, Braelyn Serpa, Alora Thomas, Isabella Zepeda
Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Coach Dave Caetano

Nominators Marla Fields, Ben Nelson and Paula Roche say, "For the past two summers has been working with the Tulare County Sheriff's Department PAL in Pixley working with students from throughout the county in the sheriff's basketball summer league program. The age range of the students was pre K to eight grade. The Mission Oak players were responsible for coaching and refereeing the students in the program. The girls were great role models for the young students. They demonstrated patience, kindness and were very caring with the participating students. The age range would be a challenge for even experienced teachers but the basketball team did a great job working with all the levels. To many of the participating young players especially from about 4th grade and younger they almost became big sisters to the kids. It was remarkable to witness the kind nurturing way my players interacted with the students. They were great representatives not only for Mission Oak High School and the Tulare High School District but they are what is truly good about our young people that many times goes unnoticed. It is an honor and privilege to coach and work with these girls. They demonstrate class on a daily basis by being respectful, kind and considerate of others. They also understand the importance of giving back to their community. They also served and the character counts awards dinner last spring and have been involved in numerous individual activities with clubs on campus and church youth groups. I feel they have certainly earned the right to be recognized for their citizenship in both our community and with their families."

Read the  Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Mission Oak High School Girls Basketball.


Eric Guzman
Lincoln Elementary School, Dinuba
nominated by Nadira Arreola

Nominator Nadira Arreola says, “Eric always has a great attitude and a welcoming smile. He is a natural leader that leads with kindness and grace. He works very hard on everything he does and always is willing to help anyone who needs help. When he finishes his work early, he assists anyone who is behind. He guides classmates in a gentle supportive way and is a natural teacher. Eric is patient, supportive, and caring. He celebrates other's accomplishments as if they were his own. Eric does not treat  classmates like classmates, he treats each one of them like best friends.”

Liam Lambarena 
Summit Charter Intermediate Academy, Porterville
nominated by Jenifer Sanders

Nominator Jenifer Sanders says, “Liam is a valuable member of our International Baccalaureate Ambassador Club. He has a natural desire to serve his community and give back. He is quiet, humble, and has a servant's heart. One of Liam’s current projects is participating in restoring the B-17 Bomber, “Preston’s Pride” in Tulare. Beyond his time at the airport, you can find Liam leading food drives and other community work all while reflecting on his goals of creating a more caring and peaceful world. Liam is a wonderful example for his peers at Summit Charter Intermediate Academy.”

Kevin Moreno
Alta Vista School, Porterville
nominated by Liliana Juarez

Nominator Liliana Juarez says, “Kevin takes pride in his school, community, and education. He is a remarkable young man who always goes above and beyond to be an excellent student and mentor to his peers. Kevin is someone who consistently gives his best in every aspect of his academic journey. He has inspired his peers in being one of the youngest spelling bee champions at Alta Vista School, and represented us well at the Tulare County Spelling Bee last spring. Kevin’s commitment, perseverance, and dedication to his studies do not go unnoticed and he sets an example as a role model for his peers at Alta Vista.”

Mariana Preciado Andrade
John J. Cairns Continuation High School, Lindsay
nominated by Amalia Lopez

Nominator Amalia Lopez says, “Mariana is ahead of pace to graduate this year. She is an active officer in All Student Body (ASB) and a campus leader. She contributes actively to her community by serving as the school board representative for Lindsay Unified for the  alternative education schools. Beyond those roles, her most important role may just be a resource to her mother. After her long school days, Mariana then attends evening classes at Lindsay Adult School, alongside her mom, who is enrolled in Beginning English as a  Second Language. She sits through the classes to help her mom take notes, practice pronunciation, and ensure her mother is successful. Mariana recognizes that her role is to be a learning support to her mother. Mariana exemplifies citizenship and what it means to be a leader in her family and community.”

For more information about the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, visit www.tcoe.org/CharacterCounts 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 46 districts administered by the Tulare County Office of Education.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a service mark of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center of Drake University.