Shelby County students recognized at Character in Action Awards

Published 12:52 pm Monday, November 27, 2023

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Students representing all schools within the Shelby County school system were independently recognized during the fall iteration of the Character in Action Awards on Thursday, Nov. 16.

In a first for the event, and thanks to the efforts of the Children’s Policy Council and Judge Erin Welborn, the event was held at the American Village in Montevallo and saw recipients and their families served dinner and refreshments.

“This particular award (ceremony) means a lot to me and it means a lot to American Village,” said Alan Miller, CEO of American Village and keynote speaker for the event. “Instilling character in our children is something that we take pride in. I think that for these students in particular it is more than just a snapshot of their character, I’m actually convinced that they’ve been given a gift and that they have a very unique and special capability.”

The awards, which were presented through joint partnerships between the Shelby County Juvenile Court, the Shelby County District Attorney’s office and American Legion Post 555, recognized one student from each of Shelby County Schools’ institutions.

“These students were handpicked (for these awards),” Miller said. “Which means that they took action—or a series of actions—that were so overwhelmingly positive that teachers, counselors and administrators took note and agreed that their actions were in keeping with their agendas. That is extraordinary.”

In particular, students and their respective families were recognized for their efforts in instilling and displaying exemplary character and the actions thereof. In that spirt, each student was presented with a certificate from Shelby County District Attorney Matt Casey and bestowed a medal by representatives of Post 555.

“It is often said that character is what we do and how we act when no one is watching,” Welborn said. “I wanted the kids here tonight to know that someone is watching. There were people who recognized them for their exemplary character.”

Miss Teen Alabama 2023, Elaina Burt, served as the master of ceremonies for the event and introduced each student as they took the stage and received applause.

“This is my heart,” Welborn said. “I see so much of the negative and so much of the bad, but this is the good. This was an amazing event and it couldn’t have happened without Amanda Manzanilla and my chief JPO Sean Styers. Lavish Events made a wonderful meal for us. Karen Han—who is my judicial assistant—sang the national anthem for us, along with Cindy Denney—who works in my office—were integral in helping put this together.”

Another iteration of the event that will take place in the Spring is currently being planned that will recognize students in Shelby County schools that fall outside of SCS, such as Alabaster, Pelham and Hoover city schools.

The list of honored students at the awards ceremonies was as follows:

  • Adalynn Winterbotom of Calera Elementary School
  • Martin Moreno of Calera Intermediate School
  • Laila Wilson of Calera Middle School
  • Kayla Banks of Calera High School
  • Bailey-Drew Joseph of Forest Oaks Elementary School
  • Han Doan of Chelsea Park Elementary School
  • Laney Marshall of Chelsea Middle School
  • John-Edward Gallagher of Chelsea High School
  • Julissa Portillo Vizueth of Wilsonville Elementary School
  • Emily Vansant of Shelby Elementary School
  • Gunner Smith of Elvin Hill Elementary School
  • Anna Josephine Payne of Columbiana Middle School
  • Sarah Elizabeth Shelton of Shelby County High School
  • Peyton Davis of CTECH
  • Amber Isabell of the Success Program
  • Charlotte Festavan of Helena Elementary School
  • Coleman Burkhalter of Helena Intermediate School
  • Brewer Jones of Helena Middle School
  • Mackenzie Meyers of Helena High School
  • Rashad Hunt of the Linda Nolen Learning Center
  • Kolin Brantley-Anfield of Montevallo Elementary School
  • Atticus Plot of Montevallo Middle School
  • Jordan Gaines of Montevallo High School
  • Isla-Clay Melton of Inverness Elementary School
  • Aaron Ramierz-Olvera of Mt Laurel Elementary School
  • McKenzie Ray of Oak Mountain Intermediate School
  • Christian Lewis of Oak Mountain Intermediate School
  • Jillian Lind of Oak Mountain Middle School
  • Bebe Moore of Oak Mountain High School
  • Gabriel Bristow of Vincent Elementary School
  • Sophie Fields Vincent Middle School
  • Chloe Abrams Vincent High School