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Character Counts at Rio Vista

The fourth-graders wrote a program to celebrate six pillars of character.

Posted: February 26, 2008 5:22 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Rio Vista fourth grade students gather onstage Friday night after presenting their original "We Are the Future!" program, celebrating the six pillars of character as part of the annual "Character Counts" diversity program.

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Standing on risers placed on each side of the stage, about 200 4th graders gathered in the multipurpose room at Rio Vista Elementary School in Canyon Country on Friday night to perform a program about understanding, diversity and tolerance based on the six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Fairness, Caring, Respect, Citizenship and Responsibility.

To illustrate the pillars, the students presented a spirited program of songs, quotes, original poems and skits.

Dubbed "We Are the Future!" the 45-minute program began with the students singing, "This is Where I Live," and then several of the students presented quotes and read poetry onstage in front of a giant blue backdrop of the planet Earth.

The poems and quotes were all based on the theme "Character Counts" program at Rio Vista.

Between the poems, all the students joined in to sing "Making Wise Choices," "Learning Today to Live Tomorrow and "We Can Make a Difference."

The students ended the program with a rousing version of "We are the World," as they walked hand in hand through the audience to surround the audience in a giant circle of love. After the group hug, the students gathered on the risers again to recite the "Children's Diversity Pledge."

There was barely a dry eye house as the parents gave the kids a standing ovation.

"This was an entire program encouraging diversity, understanding and tolerance," said third grade teacher Linda Valdes. The participating students were all from Mr. Evans, Mrs. Martinez, Mrs. Ketterl, Ms. Lee's and Ms. Gonzales' fourth grade classes.

Mrs. Martinez said the teachers came up with the idea of the show but the students came up with the actual program content.

"I just gave them the skeleton of an idea," she said. "We talked about character traits and the kids just went to town."

Martinez also provided her students with a book of famous quotations and said the kids chose their own quotes to illustrate each character traits.

For instance, Madison Maynard presented an original poem about courage: "Daring as a daredevil, but gentle as a rose, bravely standing by, fearless as a Gladiator; I wish everyone had the guts to stick up for the underdog!"

Brianna Lynch also recited an original poem: "Compassion follows you everywhere; whenever people are sad, I feel sad for them; whenever people are hurt, It hurts me; If someone is down, or something is wrong, I want to help them; Compassion is the best."

Hannah Victor said she was inspired to present a quote from Thomas Hurley regarding character: "Perhaps the most valuable education is to always make yourself do the thing you have to do whether you like it or not."

And Hailey Callasa quoted from William Penn: "Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it."

Bria Smith, 9, recited a poem she wrote about self-discipline. Her mother, Charron Smith, said Bria really is a wonderful and self-disciplined daughter who often makes dinner. "She is just a treasure and delight," she said.

Veronica Lopez recited a quote by Charles R. Swindoll: "I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes."

Veronica was at the show with her brother Carlos, 13, and their mother, Elizabeth Lopez.

Carlos is an 8th grader at La Mesa Junior High who currently holds a 4.0 GPA.

"It's cool and exciting," Carlos said, also recalling the plays he took part in at Rio Norte when he was in the second and sixth grades.

But former teacher of the year Linda Valdes was especially pleased with the high quality and parental participation for this year's program.

"As a proud mom and coordinator of the Character Counts school program, I thought this was without a doubt a perfect demonstration of the community working together to celebrate kindness and diversity," she said.

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