PCS students receive Character in Action awards

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2019

ALABASTER – Four exemplary Pelham City Schools students were recognized on Wednesday, Oct. 23, during the Character in Action awards ceremony for demonstrating what it means to have good character.

Every year, each Shelby County school district selects one student from each of its schools to receive a Character in Action Award. The ceremonies are held separately for each school district. These students have been handpicked by teachers for displaying respect, courage, responsibility, friendship and kindness toward others.

Shelby County District Court Judge Jim Kramer, who presides over Juvenile Court and is chairman of the Children’s Policy Council, said the Character in Action award ceremonies, held at Family Connection in Alabaster, are especially enjoyable for him because it isn’t often he gets to recognize students who are doing well in life.

For the first time, American Legion Post 555 partnered with the Children’s Policy Council to recognize the students and their parents. Post 555 presented the American Legion School Award Medal to students in addition to the plaques and gift bags they received.

Those who receive a medal must exemplify six qualities that define character: courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service.

The students recognized were Freddy Lopez, Pelham Oaks Elementary; Jayden Castillo, Pelham Ridge Elementary; McKenzie Little, Pelham Park Middle School; and Xavier Lankford, Pelham High School.

As each student and their parents walked up to accept the award, PCS director of operations Floyd Collins shared comments from teachers and administrators about why each student was deserving of such an award.

Out of the more than 3,000 students in Pelham City Schools, “you have been selected,” Collins said.

“We really appreciate you and the way you represent Pelham,” he said.

Lopez, a fifth-grade student, is said to be a model student who exemplifies all the qualities associated with Character in Action. Lopez’s teacher said he is always happy and helpful and is a great leader. He has been a member of the Student Lighthouse Team for four years and taken on a leadership position with the team. He has spoken at and led several school events.

According to his teacher, Lopez is an extraordinary friend. He has sought out the school counselor on occasions to help friends receive the care they needed. He has a genuine concern for his family and friends and consistently does all that he can to ensure they have what they need to be successful.

Castillo, a fifth-grade student, is always kind to his peers, according to his teacher. If he sees a classmate in need of a pencil, or even a snack, he is always willing to share with others. He consistently exhibits good manners and isn’t afraid to apologize when he has acted in error. He is self-aware, caring and sensitive to other’s feelings.

In the fourth grade, he took the initiative to help the office staff by collecting and emptying trash cans at the end of the day. He has continued to do this task ever since then, and always serves with a smile and a positive conversation.

Little, an eighth-grade student, is a dependable leader who always pushes herself to be the best version of herself, according to her teacher. Her teachers said she has excellent manners and is a true role model to those around her. Her teachers commented that she is always taking care of others an encouraging them to do their best.

She is a leader on the cheer team and plays on the softball team. She is an active member of the Kindness Club, volunteers with the Special Olympic Games each year and helps tutor in a special education classroom during morning intervention.

Teachers said Lankford, a senior, represents the best of PHS. He is a Peer Helper, quarterback of the football team and participates in community service opportunities through the school and the football team.

“He always has a helping hand ready for students, teachers and the community,” Collins read. “He is great at encouraging younger teammates and helping them adjust to high school. He truly lives by the code ‘character over convenience.’”