2017 Tulare County Kids of Character

Thank you for helping us celebrate
Tulare County Students of Character

Thanks to your participation, over 6,400 young people from 133 schools in Tulare County were recognized. Choose the link below to view a list of all of the students who were nominated.

Complete list of all of the 2017 Kids of Character nominees

On Saturday, October 21, the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register published a two-page ad highlighting the school representatives (one from each of the 133 schools submitted) chosen during the 2017 Kids of Character Week, October 16-21. View the two-page ad. View the descriptions written by the nominators for each of the 133 students.

2017 Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees

Of the more than 6,400 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 38 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Celebration held on November 2. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students.

Trustworthiness honorees

Top Honorees:

Hannah Dlugonski Hannah Dlugonski
Sundale Union School, Tulare
nominated by Felicia Robles

Hannah has a strong sense of right and wrong. Whenever she finds items on the floor or somewhere in the classroom, she will always bring them to me so we can find the owner of those items. She has also demonstrated honesty by admitting one day when she had not been following my directions. She was sincerely sorry and even wrote me a note saying she would be more respectful and not do that again. I appreciate her honesty and feel that I can trust her to do the right thing.

Shanis Rojas Shania Rojas
Sycamore Valley Academy, Visalia
nominated by Erika Chan

At Sycamore Valley Academy our honor code is, “I will do what is right because it is right." Doing right comes easily for Shania because she is always following her moral compass. She also knows that mistakes can be made, but she chooses to learn from them. Being a fifth-grader can be hard socially, but Shania consistently makes good decisions that involve empathy, kindness, and honesty, even when the easier route is to do the opposite. Shania is a leader of trustworthiness in our classroom.


Daniella Gomez Daniella Gomez
Oak Valley Union School, Tulare
nominated by Crystal Alves

Daniella is honest, tells the truth and keeps her promises. She is the one that will voluntarily mediate between her peers, even if it means that her classmates become upset with her. Daniella does this with such poise and with a helpful heart. She wants everyone to be treated fairly so she is always willing to be honest and look out for what is in the best interest of her class.

Naliyah Jones Naliyah Jones
Valley Life Charter School, Visalia
nominated by Margie Florente

Naliyah shines as a leader who always does the right thing, even when no one is looking. I can also count on her to complete classwork and homework with exceptional effort. Naliyah is also known as the friend in class others can depend on to help when in need. She enjoys participating in sports and is a fair competitor and a dependable teammate.

Berenice Lopez Berenice Lopez
Maple Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Rochelle Muller

Berenice is very truthful and keeps her promises to her classmates. When a new student arrived in our class, I knew I could trust Berenice to sit next to her and help guide her with our classroom rules and procedures. She is a good role model for all students in class. I am honored to nominate Berenice for the Kids of Character Award.

Nathaniel Rivera Nathaniel Rivera
Annie R. Mitchell Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Trini Nava

Nathaniel does an excellent job demonstrating the Pillar of Trustworthiness. He is honest, never cheats nor steals and is very reliable. Nathaniel has the courage to make the right choices and not be a follower. I really appreciate Nathaniel for being so trustworthy and setting a good example for the rest of the class.

Respect honorees

Top Honorees:

David Sanchez David Sanchez
Pixley Middle School, Pixley
nominated by Heather Rodriguez, Stephanie Rocha

David is kind and considerate to everyone. You won’t find David in a conflict because he takes time to listen to others before making a decision. David shows respect to his family by putting his family first, taking care of his younger siblings and being cooperative with his parents. David respects his education and works hard to complete assignments with excellence. David comes into my classroom every morning to help me get ready for the day and I know I can count on him for any task to be completed. David is a perfect role model for the Pillar of Respect.

Mika Temmerman Mika Temmerman
Ridgeview Middle School, Visalia
nominated by DeAnn Meyers

Mika is exceptional in every regard. I would describe this young lady as All-American. Mika has a properly defined moral compass. She can be counted on for telling the truth, being honest with peers without being hurtful and showing true empathy toward others. I am impressed when I see her interacting with peers and staff. She is reserved, but her actions are steady and thoughtful. This young lady is kind without expecting anything in return. Miss Temmerman is a young woman which other parents would desire their children to emulate. Ridgeview students who exhibit these behaviors are many, but Mika has an unassuming nature that embodies a natural innocence.


Mario Andrade Mario Andrade
Lincoln Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Jolee Maffia

Mario’s respect for others coupled with kindness extends beyond assisting the teacher. Recently, the students were building ramps to make toy cars roll the farthest. Another student was not having any success and was almost in tears. Mario left his ramp, went to the boy, gave him a hug and respectfully said, “Let me show you how I did it. I bet we can make yours go farther than mine!” A five-year-old who just seconds ago was on the verge of winning the distance contest, left his work to help a struggling friend win! Mario is already an impressive role model for people of all ages.

Karina Castro Karina Castro
Riverway Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Maria Vazquez

Karina does what she is asked to do, even if she doesn't want to do it. One time she was asked to be a cafeteria worker. She didn't want to, but out of respect for me as her teacher, she did so anyway knowing they needed the help. While working in the cafeteria the lunch ladies realized they had too many students, so they asked the helpers who would like to leave. Karina respectfully raised her hand to return back to class. Thank you, Karina, for demonstrating a selfless understanding of the Pillar of Respect.

Jacob Daguman Jacob Daguman
Porterville High School, Porterville
nominated by Lance Wallace

Jacob shows respect not only with teachers, but also to his classmates no matter what their status may be in class. I am privileged to see this daily as Jacob is my student-aide for my "at risk" class. He also displays respect with his fellow athletes. But what may prove Jacob’s respectful actions the most is that he has earned the position of our band’s Drum Major as a junior in high school. This is a fine testimonial of his respect and patience for his peers to successfully lead others toward a common goal.

Gabriela Perez Gabriela Perez
Kings River Union School, Kingsburg
nominated by Eunice Quiring

I have the opportunity to witness Gabriela's behavior in the library and out on the playground. I have never seen her treat another student or a staff member disrespectfully, nor have I ever heard complaints about her from others. This year, she helps me shelve books during her morning recess time. Gabriela comes in quietly and, if I am busy, she just simply gets to work. It is a joy to have Gabriela help me in the library and a pleasure to nominate her for the Pillar of Respect.

Responsibility honorees

Top Honorees:

Sandra Cisneros Sandra Cisneros
Strathmore Middle School, Strathmore
nominated by Douglas Burkhart

I chose to nominate Sandra for responsibility because she truly lives by the phrase "doing what you're supposed to do". And to add to that, she also does “what she is supposed to do” before being told! Sandra takes it upon herself to encourage her peers to practice responsibility in the classroom, as well. When it is time to clean up and take care of class supplies, she respectfully reminds others to take care of their duties in the classroom and clean up. Sandra makes class a better place to learn due to her sense of responsibility for herself and others.

Kasie Elisarraraz, Daejah Wright, Lialy Zamora Kasie Elisarraraz, Daejah Wright, Lialy Zamora
Tulare Western High School, Tulare
nominated by Jana Petersdorf

These three amazing ladies are working hard to raise money for a trip to New York. On September 24, they served as setup, teardown, and catering for a wedding. I had an unexpected family emergency and could not go to oversee them. With the help of the mother of the bride, they worked from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Mooney Grove Park. They got themselves there, set up chairs, tables, table cloths; they helped prepare and serve guests; they waited on tables, and behaved and dressed in a professional manner worthy of any caterer. They represented the Tulare Western Drama Department with excellence and fulfilled their responsibilities to the family and to our department.


Alejandra Brizuella Alejandra Brizuella
Sierra Vista Charter High School, Tulare
nominated by Christe Byerlee

Alejandra is working diligently toward entering college next year. Although not excited to transfer to our school, Alejandra has given up her desire to attend regular high school and doing all the fun, carefree things that most teenagers do in order to care for her little niece. Her sister and brother-in-law are both in the armed forces and have been deployed. Being who she is, Alejandra has demonstrated the utmost responsibility and stepped up to help her sister, even though it was not her obligation to do so.

Estefany Nunez Damian Estefany Nunez Damian
El Monte Middle School, Orosi
nominated by Jose Montemayor

Estefany displays her sense of responsibility on a daily basis. While struggling with concepts in class, she took responsibility for her learning and took advice to make improvements. Rather than settling, she asked for more assistance and realized what she was doing wrong and made the necessary adjustments. Now she is one of the best students I have in AVID, English, and History.

Maria Rivas-Gonzalez Maria Rivas-Gonzalez
Ivanhoe Elementary School, Ivanhoe
nominated by Jeff Housman

Maria is willing to help anyone and everyone on our campus. She helps her classmates with assignments and the use of technology, and translates for Spanish speakers. She volunteers to help in the cafeteria, library and even with younger students out on the playground. Maria’s drive for excellence doesn’t stop there. She is also very active outside of the classroom, participating in the orchestra, playing on our soccer team and working in the community, as well. Maria strives to do her very best, sets high goals for herself and is a wonderful example to our entire school.

Victor Rosas-Munoz Victor Rosas-Munoz
Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Katy Thompson

Victor is not the leader who stands on stage and demands attention; rather he is a leader who recognizes a problem and will come up with an idea to better the situation. I watch Victor interact with students young and old and he shows the same respect and caring for both. I have seen him run numerous games and activities for our school and he arrives when expected and always exceeds my expectations. Victor often does the behind-the-scenes work in leadership and never asks for credit and always a smile on his face!

Fairness honorees

Top Honorees:

Cole Machado Cole Machado
Springville Union School, Springville
nominated by Vickie Mathews

Cole is a great student and athlete. He is competitive, but able to control it enough to play a very fair game. As quarterback of the football team, he is a leader and one that keeps the other players calm and focused. Without hesitancy, he will congratulate the opposing teammates when they make a good play. With athletic ability and great sportsmanship, Cole will go very far in life. I enjoy having Cole Machado in class and on the field.

Daniela Martinez Daniela Martinez
Stone Corral School, Visalia
nominated by Christopher Kemper

Daniela deserves this award for her outstanding qualities of character. She is constantly doing her fair share in and out of the classroom. She is a joy in class and knows how to respect others' opinions. Daniela treats people fairly and makes others smile. Although Daniela is a quiet student, her impact on campus has become obvious – she is a great student with great character and a top role model at Stone Corral School!


Anali Alcantar Anali Alcantar
John J. Doyle Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Lulu Baca

Anali demonstrated that she plays by the rules in multiple situations, especially when she was assigned to be the class "points person" for the month. She understood her role and gave or took away points according to behaviors or acts of participation, including those of table members and friends. In addition, Anali makes sure to share responsibilities with the goal of everyone contributing. Anali undoubtedly merits recognition for exhibiting fairness.

Erick Garcia-Villasenor Erick Garcia-Villasenor
Wilson Elemenatary School, Tulare
nominated by Bethany Glazebrook

Erick gets along well with everyone in class and on the playground. Erick has proven to his friends and adults that he can participate fairly in any learning or games. He follows the agreed-upon rules and expectations in all situations. I appreciate his quiet role-modeling; he is clearly an example to others through his actions. I am so proud to honor Erick for this Kid of Character Award!

Ella Quezada Ella Quezada
Liberty Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Alison Melton

When students are asked to work as a group, Ella goes out of her way to make sure that materials and project assignments are evenly distributed. As a second-grade student, she already knows how to gently guide those who need extra support and encourage those who want to control a project to share with others instead. Ella is loved by those who know her because of her excellent character.

Damian Valencia Damian Valencia
Strathmore High School, Strathmore
nominated by Jeromy Blackwell

Damian practices fairness daily. He is the star of our football defensive squad, yet the stardom has not affected his ability to be fair. Damian uses his fairness to lead. He shows up early and stays late to set up and break down practice equipment. Others his age would ask that these chores be passed to younger players, but Damian continues to pay his dues and encourage others to follow. He gladly serves his team and does it all with a great attitude and a hitch in his giddy-up!

Caring honorees

Top Honorees:

Jacob Negrete Jacob Negrete
Global Learning Charter School, Visalia
nominated by Jill Denkins, Herman Villarreal

Each day after school, Jacob enters the office, greets administrators and office personnel politely, and asks how our day was. He then asks if there is anything he can do to help us. He never interrupts and always speaks in a caring and helpful tone. Jacob volunteers to pick up the cones in our parking lot areas. He has never been asked to do this, but he saw that a need existed and stepped right in to fill that need! His caring heart shows not only in the acts that he does, but also in the tone of his voice. When he leaves for the day, he always wishes everyone a "great afternoon!"

Alejandro Valdivia-Aceves Alejandro Valdivia-Aceves
Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Oddie Lambert, Shannon Hernandez-Harrow

Last year, Alex and Brennon were practically strangers when Alex gave up his position in the high school band’s drumline for Brennon. Music director Mr. Lambert agreed to let Brennon try marching, but that would mean an existing drummer would have to give up their spot on the drumline. As a talented section leader, it was the ultimate sacrifice for Alex. For Brennon, it was a dream come true. Although Brennon is an accomplished drummer, he has a disability that prevents him from fulfilling all of the mandatory band practices. At each parade for the last two years, Alex would make sure Brennon put the harness and drum on correctly and then he would march right alongside Brennan and help him at practices. Alex says, “This way Brennon could have a chance to feel like I do when I’m in drumline.” Brennan’s mom will tell you, “It is because of caring people like Alejandro Valdivia-Aceves that my son is able to march with the Mission Oak High School band and for this I am grateful.


Eva Barela Eva Barela
Westfield Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Kristie Wood

This is my first year at Westfield Elementary School and Eva has been extremely helpful. Eva showed up with a smile on her face and information galore! She gave me suggestions before I even knew I needed any help. She started sentences with, "Just to let you know Ms. Wood ...”. She would fill me in on small details of the day that a new teacher would have to learn by trial and error. I am impressed with her caring demeanor and Eva has been nothing less than a pleasure to teach.

Jose Rocha Jose Rocha
Cutler Elementary School, Cutler
nominated by Megan Thiessen

One day a misunderstanding between two young girls occurred and resulted in one girl crying. Jose went above and beyond to make sure the girl felt better and most importantly made sure that no one teased her for crying. He continues to be her friend and models the importance of kindness to everyone. Jose has showed everyone what a true friend looks like. I am so proud to call him my student and he deserves to be celebrated for his character.

Melany Valdez-Olivares Melany Valdez-Olivares
Lincoln Elementary School, Lindsay
nominated by Laura Cortes

Melany took it upon herself to introduce the concept of a welcoming committee to our school. The first few weeks of school, we had quite a few new learners enroll. Melany offered to show the new learners around campus. She spoke to them in their native language, either English or Spanish, took them to their new class and offered to check in with them while they adjusted to our school. Melany naturally cares about others, especially those in need.

Jenna Yeates Jenna Yeates
Cherry Avenue Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Tracy Bert

Jenna is the type of student who makes you feel happy to be able to work in education. She always greets students and adults alike with a smile. When someone may need a friend, Jenna is the first person I go to. Recently, I noticed a student on campus who looked like they could use a friend and I knew Jenna had class with her. When I asked Jenna if she knew her, she had already tried to talk to her and noticed she was shy, but she would keep working on having her as a friend. Even without being asked, Jenna went out of her way to care about a fellow student.

Citizenship honorees

Top Honorees:

Samaria Tamayo Samaria Tamayo
El Diamante High School, Visalia
nominated by Randy Hendricks

Samaria has a wealth of experiences that allows her to interact with a diverse group of students and be an advocate for others when needed. Samaria is a four-year drama student. From set design to director, her leadership has helped others grow, as well. Beyond drama, you will find Samaria involved in multiple sports teams and clubs  – one in which she is hoping to land her fourth lead role: Mock Trial. Within the classroom, her résumé is just as long and accomplished – you would think she doesn’t have any time left for off campus projects. But she does! Samaria is proud of her work with Lost Girls, a charitable club that raises money for mammograms. She has traveled to Belize to help start a village recycling program where old bottles were used for pots for plants. Samaria is a local student who thinks globally, ready to share her experiences in hopes to expand the perspectives of students and adults around her.

Ashton Hamilton Ashton Hamilton
Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Michelle Nunley, Patrick Hamilton, Dave Schlick, Tom Kellogg

Ashton has always been a great role model and a hard worker in the classroom, in athletics, in agriculture and in the community. She is a true leader on our varsity volleyball team and does so without being a captain. She leads because she knows when her team needs someone to step up. I have witnessed her being trustworthy in situations where most students would not. Recently she was faced with some tough, peer-pressure scenarios and she stayed strong and did the right thing. Academically, Ashton is ranked 12th in her class. She was recently awarded Grand Canyon University's highest scholarship – The Chancellor Scholarship. Ashton also has a love for ministry and children. She took three mission trips this past year, two to Mexico and one to the Dominican Republic, and this has solidified her passion to become a teacher. She loves helping others. Ashton is an amazing young lady who goes out of her way to brighten other people’s lives. Her attitude to share her beliefs with her team and classmates makes others feel supported and encouraged. Although she will be missed by so many, it is clear that Ashton has the faith and character to overcome the challenges that life has to offer as she ventures off to college and continues to impact those around her.


Cathalina Chavez Cathalina Chavez
Goshen Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Frank Ghiglia

Cathalina concerns herself with the needs of others over the needs of herself. She often sacrifices her morning recess time to help with various responsibilities in the classroom. She can be seen going over particularly difficult math problems and word problems with not only her immediate neighbors, but those in other groups as well. Cathalina has never shied away from responsibility that betters her class and school community – making it a better place simply with her presence and the hard work she dedicates to others.

Liberty Peckham Liberty Peckham
Crescent Valley Charter School, Tulare campus
nominated by Ashely Taylor, Ryan Lapadula, Candice Haas

Liberty consistently finds ways to help her school and community. As an active member of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Explorer Program, she works hard at whatever assignment she is given, whether it's directing parking at the Tulare County Fair or explaining the role of the Explorer program at a school presentation. On campus, Liberty is ready to lend a helping hand for special events, reach out to students who need a supportive friend and take a lead role during career events. Whenever she is asked to help, Liberty always has a winning smile and resounding, “Yes, I will help!”

Andrew Ventura Andrew Ventura
Lindsay High School, Lindsay
nominated by Katryn Gonzales

As our ASB President, Andrew constantly looks for ideas to improve our school culture. He successfully implemented "Make a Wish Week" last year in which ASB leaders on campus "adopted" a younger student or a student with special needs to help make their wish come true. Some wishes included eating pizza with senior leaders or playing basketball after school with varsity players. This year, Andrew has taken this idea one step further by starting a buddy system in which ASB leaders "adopt" a little sister or little brother on campus to spend time with them. Andrew is leading the way at Lindsay toward building a more inclusive and positive vibe on campus for all students!

Shelby Whinery Shelby Whinery
Porterville High School, Porterville
nominated by Pamela Avila

Shelby is an effective role model for all students! She inspires responsibility and never sees a roadblock she cannot conquer. Shelby is currently the president for our campus Junior Medical Reserve Corp. Through Shelby’s leadership, our club volunteers at local events with first-aid stations. Plans to assist in community vaccinations and emergency preparedness drills are next on Shelby’s agenda. Shelby proudly represents our club at every event with enthusiasm and keeps everyone going, including her advisor. Shelby is a compassionate, well-rounded young woman who possesses all the attributes required of a responsible citizen.

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.