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

Thanks to your participation, nearly 6,000 young people from 143 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  2019 Kids of Character nominees

On Saturday, October 26, the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register published a two-page ad highlighting the school representatives (one from each of the 143 schools submitted) chosen during the 2019 Kids of Character Week, October 21-26. View the two-page ad. View the descriptions written by the nominators for each of the 143 students.

2019 Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees

Of the nearly 6,000 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 80 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Celebration held on October 30. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students.


Top Honoree:

Landon GamezMario JimenezAndrew VillegasAndrew Villegas
Mario Jimenez
Landon Gamez
Woodlake Valley Middle School, Woodlake
nominated by Megan Rinaldi

Three Woodlake Valley Middle School boys were on a mission. Sure, it was a little scary. Would someone follow them? What would happen if the person who was the object of their mission turned out to be old and grumpy and yelled at them? Even worse, what if he was some kind of weirdo? After all, they had all just seen the horror movie It, and they knew the fate of overly-curious kids. But eighth-graders Landon Gamez, Mario Jimenez, and Andrew Villegas didn't let those fears discourage them from tracking down the owner of the wallet they had just found in a Woodlake park while walking home from school. The wallet was stuffed with about $200, credit cards, and a driver's license! That last bit of information led the boys to a clue: a name and address of the owner of the wallet. So one of the boys took out his phone and entered the address into Google maps. Turns out, the address was just a few blocks away. So, the boys nervously decided to return the wallet. When they got to the house, Mario and Andrew hung back a bit and let Landon – the smallest and, presumably, the fastest of the trio, knock on the door – in case they needed a quick getaway. "My heart was beating so fast," Andrew said. "I really didn't know what to expect." The person who answered the door immediately put the boys to ease: he was a two- or three-year-old. The toddler then called for his father, who turned out not to be old, grumpy, or a homicidal supernatural clown. "He was so happy we found his wallet and couldn't believe we brought it back to him," Mario said. The man gave each of the boys $20 and a hearty thank you.


Christopher GonzalezChristopher Gonzalez
Accelerated Charter High School, Tulare
nominated by Christopher Covert

Christopher is currently my teacher’s assistant for two of my physical education classes. As a teacher assistant, Chris comes to class every day asking what needs to be taken care of and I know any task I give to him will be accomplished in a no-nonsense fashion. Having a trustworthy student like Chris, and knowing you can give a task and not worry at all about its completion, is such a blessing. He is definitely a student that deserves this award.

Josue GutierrezJosue Gutierrez
Jefferson Elementary School, Lindsay
nominated by Viviane Rosales

This year we have allowed students to nominate fellow students and Josue was our top nominee school-wide. Staff and peers see Josue as a person who is always on time, he comes in ready to go, and if you need someone to trust he is there for you and if you feel down he will be there for you. His friends say Josue is a dependable person who you can rely on no matter what. He is the definition of a true friend and an exemplar student. He is more than deserving of this nomination.

Adrian LunaAdrian Luna
Highland Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Lyndsay Gentert

Adrian is always helping others to do the right thing even when adults are not around or looking. Adrian tells the truth even when he knows he has made a mistake. He strives to be a leader in class and his peers can trust him when he makes promises. Adrian is often encouraging others to choose the right path and show their PAWS when he observes them being less than honest or living up to their potential. He holds himself accountable and is fair to every person he interacts with on campus.

Jacqueline VazquezJacqueline Vazquez
Buena Vista School, Tulare
nominated by Jordan Perry

Jacqueline joined Buena Vista last year as a fifth-grade student. Sometimes it can be hard switching schools and feeling like you fit in. With this transition, Jacqueline needed something to give a spark and track and field did that for her. Last year she won multiple races and helped her relay team to a first-place finish. Jacqueline wore her ribbons on her backpack with pride and soon began greeting staff members with a smile. Jacqueline is off to a great start this school year and has set new goals. She wants to make honor roll, and improve her math, which has always been a struggle for her. On her first progress report she received B's and A's in all subjects. Her benchmarks in math and reading are climbing on a steep slope. She spreads her joy with her classmates, always looking for opportunities to help others in the classroom and on the playground. Her 180 transition is extremely rare, but I am confident it happened when she found something in school that brought her success. That caring mindset has now spread in all facets of her life. It is my honor to recognize this awesome individual!



Top Honoree:

Alberto Aguilar, Isacc Flores, Joahn Ardila-Zabala, Yoel Esteban LopezAlberto Aguilar
Isacc Flores
Joahn Ardila-Zabala
Yoel Esteban Lopez

Dinuba High School, Dinuba
nominated by Martha Macias

This year, I had a transfer student temporarily placed in my class about two weeks into the semester. This student came into my class with a bag full of adverse situations. I had him join a group of boys that were well into their class project. These three boys welcomed him into their group with a smile and a “get ready to work” attitude. As the week progressed, they all seemed to work really well together. One day while they were waiting, they began to talk about life, schools, and grades. The transfer student talked about how his grades have suffered due to poor choices. Without any judgement or knowing of his situation, the boys began to stress to him why it was so important that he try to get good grades and why he should try to make good decisions in his life. Soon they began to create a plan of action for their new friend. They offered sound advice and one student even volunteered to tutor him during his lunch hour. I was so moved and so glad to hear such positive interaction. Since this event, the transfer student has made a commitment to return and help his group complete this after school project. Although this is his last week in my class, I was moved to hear that he is doing all he can to honor his commitment to his group. I realize that we are to submit just one nominee, but in this case, I strongly believe that... It takes a village.


Sandy Bustamante PenaSandy Bustamante Pena
Freedom Elementary School, Farmersville
nominated by Sebastian Santillan

Sandy is an exemplary student who models what it is like to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Sandy has worked hard to become an exemplary student in Freedom Elementary School. She has experienced firsthand how it feels to be treated unfairly. Sandy has never made fun of a student or treated them unfairly. Sandy is now proficient English speaker and helps other students who are struggling. Instead of holding a grudge towards students who can be mean, Sandy is committed to helping others.

Joselyn DiazJoselyn Diaz
Earlimart Middle School, Earlimart
nominated by Jose Viramontes

Joselyn exhibits an awesome attitude inside and outside of the classroom. She is respectful towards everyone no matter who they are. This quality makes her an outstanding student who not only shows respect, but all of the pillars of character. She has a stellar reputation for being trustworthy, caring, responsible, fair, and most of all respectful. Joselyn’s friends and teachers have recognized this behavior as part of her daily life –she is one of our best at Earlimart Middle School!

Josue Hernandez NavaJosue Hernandez Nava
Cherry Avenue Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Sherie Altermatt

Josue serves as a student council member on our Cherry School Site Council. Recently he was involved in a situation where other students were throwing items at him. When the students asked him to give the items back, he did. He told me, ‘I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt as that is what I would want others to do to me.’ The situation went further and instead of taking matters into his own hands, he told the teacher and then asked to speak with someone in the office who could help him with the situation. I was that person. Josue explained to me what had happened and asked for help in the matter. I am so proud of Josue’s maturity and the way he handled the situation.

Naija TajNaija Taj
Sierra Vista High School, Dinuba
nominated by Linda Danner

Naija is respectful to all of her fellow classmates as well as her teachers. She speaks politely when asking for clarification of directions. She also encourages her classmates to be respectful in class as well as out of class. Naija is part of a group of students who have been working with the DUSD Director of Food Services to improve the quality of cafeteria food here at SVHS. With Naija's respectful tone during academic discussions, progress has been made towards improvements in the quality of the food, which has resulted in a new menu for our campus. Students and staff are extremely grateful for the hard work Naija and her team have devoted to this project. She has been a great addition to our school, and we are so glad she is here. We are better because she is part of our campus.


Top Honoree:

Michael FalconMichael Falcon
Golden West High School, Visalia
nominated by Jose Fregoso

Michael is a tenth-grade student at Golden West High School. Michael is a student-athlete and a member of the First Responder Academy career tech pathway. During lunch, Michael observed a student choking and sprang into action using first aid techniques learned in the First Responder Academy and his health class, which included the Heimlich Maneuver, to dislodge the student's airway blockage. Michael went above and beyond to support a fellow Golden West Trailblazer and represents all that is good in the youth of America. The Golden West High School staff and students are proud to have such an excellent young person as a member of the student body.


Caleb CejaCaleb Ceja
Blue Oak Academy, Visalia
nominated by Dona Johnson

Innovators are created with hard work and dedication. They believe in themselves and rise above their challenges and become role models to their peers. Caleb Ceja is an innovator who has chosen to believe in himself. He has grasped that by becoming a role model, applying himself, and becoming a team player for his peers supports his leadership capabilities. Caleb says that, ‘This is the Year’ and he is committed to making a difference in his personal life choices as well as his academic ranges. Believing in himself opened doors for his confidence that will ultimately support his success.

Nuviah EstradaNuviah Estrada
Palm Elementary School, Orosi
nominated by Jayboy Camaquin

As part of our Leadership Academy Team you will see and hear Nuviah on our intercom system reciting morning announcements. She has also joined our Peer Student Counselor program to ensure students are supported with their school work and behavior. You will also see Nuviah busy during our assemblies greeting others, collecting parent signatures, and cleaning up afterwards. Aside from being on our Leadership Academy Team, Nuviah is also an excellent student scholar. These are the reasons I nominate Nuviah Estrada for Kids of Character for Responsibility.

George GarciaGeorge Garcia
Monache High School, Porterville
nominated by Miki Smith

When a fight broke out between two boys, George immediately got between them and pushed one of the students out of the way, successfully breaking up the fight. He did not cheer or encourage the other students on, he did not just sit and watch – he took action. George then went to the office and explained everything that happened. He stood up and did what was right when the opportunity presented itself. He acted without anyone asking him to act and in doing so, stopped anyone from getting hurt.

Shyanne GonzalezShyanne Gonzalez
Los Tules Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Rhonda Sousa

Shyanne is not only responsible in completing classwork and homework assignments, she takes responsibility for others as well. She comes to school prepared and ready to learn. She brings back notes and required paperwork in a timely manner. I have chosen her as our student council representative because I know she will take detailed notes and report on everything she has learned. She is the ideal model of doing what you are supposed to do in regards to being organized, completing assignments, treating others kindly, being respectful to teachers and peers, being trustworthy and following rules. I feel very lucky to be her teacher this year!

Macy McCoyMacy McCoy
Pioneer Middle School, Porterville
nominated by Danny Velazquez

Our campus has a program called Breakfast in the Classroom. Students receive a healthy and nutritious breakfast every morning. However, someone needs to pass out the breakfast and make sure every student receives all the delicious items. That is where Macy comes in. She ensures everyone receives breakfast and does it in an organized non-distracting way. My mornings would not be as smooth if it wasn’t for Macy’s determination to do this task correctly. Macy is also an amazing student. She is relentless and strives to develop her Spanish speaking, reading and writing skills. At the end of this year, Macy will receive a Bi-literacy Seal and a Bi-literacy Sash commemorating her completion of the Dual Language Program in our district.

Martin NunezMartin Nunez
Porterville High School, Porterville
nominated by Robert Aguilar

Martin is a perfectionist. He is always on top of all his work and strives for excellence with every assignment. As his art teacher, I witnessed Martin redo his work many times in order to turn in his best artwork. He loves to draw and is very good at it. Of all the senior students in my program this year, I truly believe that Martin is an outstanding student and well-deserving of this award.


Top Honoree:

Jonathan San RomanJonathan San Roman
Garden Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Maria Cerda

Beginning last year, Jonathan has made it a point to include students from the TCOE AcCEL program. During recess, Jonathan will invite students to play basketball with him and his friends. On occasion, where one of our students is alone on a basketball court, Jonathan will go over and play with him. He has also spent time teaching our students how to shoot a basketball as well as throw a football. This school year, he made it a point to get to know our new students. He has invited them to hang out with him and his friends during recess. Some of our students are non-verbal or have limited communication skills. This, however, does not stop Jonathan from interacting with them. He makes it a point to try to understand the signs, gestures, and vocalizations in order to communicate with his new friends. Jonathan is an outstanding student and such a wonderful peer. He exemplifies the meaning of treating others the way you would like to be treated.


James BenevedesJames Benevedes
Oak Valley Union School, Tulare
nominated by Crystal Alves

In a classroom full of twenty four-year olds is fairness even possible? What does fairness even look like and sound like? At this age, fairness is a rather big word and we are all just trying to figure it out. Yet, James has it figured out. He plays by the rules, shares with others and will easily give up a turn without complaining. Being a role model is a difficult task at such a young age, but James does it with such confidence and grace. I often call him "Mr. James" because he does what I do all day long. He teaches others how to be fair and be a peacemaker.

Samantha CarabaySamantha Carabay
Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore
nominated by Nicholas Walters

Samantha is a phenomenal violin player and leader. She inspires her peers as concertmaster and brings the best out of her section. However, Sam is not just a ‘slave driver’, she would never ask anyone to do something that she herself is not willing to do herself. Samantha plays by the rules to the extreme. She know the rules and expectations, follows them and then always finds a way to surpass the expectations. If two hours of practice is required, she will not only practice four, she will work with others while their practicing. Samantha resets the rules and shows how order and discipline make the world better.

Lizbeth JimenezLizbeth Jimenez
Farmersville High School, Farmersville
nominated by Michelle Duarte

Lizbeth tends to score high on assessments and she inspires others to do well also by sharing her strategies and good work habits. She wants everyone to enjoy the benefits of taking advantage of their education. As a three-sport athlete, Lizbeth proves that student-athletes can show diligent work habits as she is currently ranked #1 in her class. She is the diamond in so many of her classes!

Reanna MunozReanna Munoz
Woodlake High School, Woodlake
nominated by Florencio Guerra

Reanna is a wonderful young lady and a member of our Woodlake High School Varsity Volleyball team. Reanna helps her teammates by leading them not only during games, but also at practices. What makes Reanna so special is her willingness to talk to all the students at her high school. For example, when Reanna was nominated for homecoming queen I asked a freshman player why Reanna would be a great choice. They went on to explain that Reanna is known as the kindest upperclassman and makes an effort to welcome freshmen and say hello to all every day. By being a caring teammate and classmate, Reanna set the standard for all our student-athletes for many years to come.


Top Honoree:

Keshay JamesKeshay James
Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Ivan Arce, Kelli Medeiros, Chandalin Champlin

Keshay is the heart and soul of Tulare Union. She never asks for anything from anyone, yet gives her all. Keshay is part of Project Z and helped found the TU Cares Closet where students in need could get clothes and toiletry items. As a leader of Project Z, Keshay encourages the group members to meet one new student at lunch, especially the students that might be alone. Keshay herself greets everyone in the morning. Every student that walks by she says "good morning" and "have a great day" – I literally mean everyone! When asked why she does that, she replied, “I just want to spread some positive vibes.” Keshay is always looking for new ways to help others. She has shared with me she has a thought journal. I asked her what she used it for and she said it was where she writes her thoughts and ideas of how we can make the school a better place. As you have heard, Keshay goes above and beyond to help our community. She continues to be a leader by her wonderful communication skills and positive attitude toward making our community a better place.


Uriel CisnerosUriel Cisneros
Pixley Elementary School, Pixley
nominated by Tanya Sunderland

At the young age of five Uriel has already learned and displayed the qualities of caring. Recently we had a new student join our class. She didn't speak English so Uriel took it upon himself to direct and guide her as to where to go and what to do in her native language of Spanish. In addition, he has played with her in the playground. Not only has he watched out for her, but he also enjoys helping others in the class. He is a great example of the Pillar of Caring at such a young age.

Aubrianna Dowler-CasarezAubrianna Dowler-Casarez
Kings River Union School, Kingburg
nominated by Jeremy Boriack

Aubrianna shines in so many ways. Most notably, is her caring and compassionate attitude towards her peers, especially those who struggle. By a happy accident, I created a seating chart at the beginning of the year which placed her right next to a student who has suffered a traumatic injury. This student is a delight to have in class, but can easily be sidetracked or confused. I have observed Aubrianna's interactions and noticed that she is gentle, sensitive, and often helps redirect this student back to the activities we are doing in class. Aubrianna is patient and genuinely kind. It is something that when you witness it, your heart is happy.

Audrey HarrisAudrey Harris
La Sierra Military Academy, Visalia
nominated by Chief Joe Andrade

Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Audrey Harris has faced an extraordinary set of unwanted life circumstances, yet she has embraced the goodwill of others and has lived by a daily rule of giving this attribute of caring back to the world. She starts her morning with daily vlogs of upbeat postings and encouraging words to her followers. She participates in many school-related activities and has achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant within the Support Division at La Sierra. As an S-5 Officer of Public Relations, she is in charge of broadcasting school information via the Eagle Eye News every Monday. Her upbeat and caring attitude is always on display and I have received several compliments from the public about her caring attitude. Audrey is a beam of light that spreads good on others.

Anthony MendozaAnthony Mendoza
Juan Soria
Golden Valley Elementary School, Orosi
nominated by Norma Lupa

One day Juan and Anthony walked into a boys' restroom at Golden Valley Elementary and heard crying coming from one of the stalls. They immediately jumped into action. Juan went out to call for help while Anthony went under the stall to help a kindergarten boy who was not able to unlock the stall door. Anthony quickly unlocked the door for the boy. By the time the kindergarten boy walked out of the stall, Juan was back and he comforted the boy. When help arrived, Juan Soria and Anthony Mendoza had solved the problem and the kindergarten boy was headed back to class. Anthony and Juan perfectly demonstrated the Pillar of Caring when they helped our little kindergarten student.

Megan Robbins Megan Robbins 
Exeter Union High School, Exeter
nominated by Nora Allstedt

Megan is caring and helpful by nature and has aspirations of one day becoming a special education teacher. As a member of the Exeter FFA, Megan is not just kind with animals, but fellow students and younger children that want to see her animals. Her family does a large Christmas light display in December and on weekends Megan dresses up as an elf or the Grinch and hands out candy canes. On Saturday's, Santa makes an appearance and families will often stop and have pictures taken of their children with Santa. Watching how Megan interacts with children waiting in line for a picture or calming crying children shows her caring heart. Megan is a shining example of a young lady that cares for all those around her.

Daniel ZamoraDaniel Zamora
Alpine Vista School, Tulare
nominated by Amy Mendes

Have you ever met a student that makes you want to be a better person and thankful for what you have? I have, his name is Daniel Zamora. He makes that world a better place with his attitude and smile. He has been through more than most kids should have too and yet makes the choice to be grateful, kind, hardworking, a good friend, and good brother. He goes above and beyond in and outside of the classroom to be kind to everyone. He has a humble and quiet spirit, yet makes people smile with his kind words and attitude. I know his caring heart and attitude will make a mark on the world!


Top Honoree:

Pleasant View's S.Q.U.A.D.The SQUAD
Victor Alcantar, Janet Aldaco, Katya Aviles, Karly Ayon, Alexis Calabitin, Romel Calabitin, Kassandra Casas, Jaslyn Ceja, Jose Cortez, Savannah Curtis, Aylin Diaz, Allison Guerrero, Yadira Hernandez, Valeria Herrera, Samuel Hoehn, Antonio Lopez, Gabriela Lopez, Haidi Lopez, Yadira Lua, David Martinez, Leylani Martinez, Angelica Mays, Aries Mays, Chelia Mejia, Isabella Mendez, Daniel Meza, Vannesa Miguel, Mercedes Montes, Erelin Moreno, Jacqueline Mosqueda, Cash Ortiz, Isabella Racca, Allison Reyes, Arturo Reyes, Brithani Reyes, Miguel Reyes, Cristian Rodriguez, Mia Rojas, Alexis Sanchez, Alina Toledo
Pleasant View Elementary School, Poplar
nominated by Tashima Irving

Pleasant View Elementary School District is small in size, but big in heart and citizenship. Although there are many great programs at the school, one is very dear to me. This group is S.Q.U.A.D. (Students who are Qualified, Unique, Awesome, and Disciplined). This after school club consists of several resilient 4th-8th graders who come from many different backgrounds and cultures. Some have experienced great loss, abandonment, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and struggle. But they have committed to not allowing their circumstances to dictate their future. Each member comes together as one team on one mission and that is to serve and uplift each other through community and relationship building. We start out with a reflective activity every time we meet. The activity allows students to reflect on experiences they have had and share how they feel. It is great to see them discuss funny, sometimes tough and at other times sensitive, issues with each other. They eagerly step out into their community and school to serve. Two ways they serve in the community are during the monthly Farmer's Market and at one of the local churches. They help bag and box canned goods, fruits, and vegetables for those in the community who are less fortunate. I have witnessed these young learners carrying bags of food for the elderly to their cars. I stand back and watch as they smile and greet everyone who comes through the line. It stirs up great emotion and tears in my eyes because I see the greatness in them already. We are continually painting or decorating to beautify the school. They have taken old trash bins, painted them and transformed them into pots for plants. The students will plant flowers and other plants and take care of them. It is a true pleasure working alongside these kiddos. As I see them through the day, they greet me with huge smiles, high fives, and hugs. Before many leave my sight they ask, "So, Ms. Irving, what are we doing next time we meet?" They feel SQUAD is a place “where they belong and are welcomed.”


Topanga JacksonTopanga Jackson
El Diamante High School, Visalia
nominated by Milee Vang

Topanga moved from Texas to Visalia last spring and transitioned quickly into becoming an El Diamante High School Miner. We quickly noticed that Topanga had a helping spirit. She is very caring and is always so supportive to her teachers and her peers. She is calm and collected and advocates for herself and her peers. Topanga currently serves as our student services office aide. She observes the traffic flow, observes what is happening and without hesitation, she willingly provides support to staff by stapling packets, putting forms together, sending out passes, offering to provide school tours to sub teachers and new students. She is an asset to El Diamante and is of great help in supporting the student services office. Students can rely on her for accurate and resourceful information.

Joseph MatthewsJoseph Matthews
Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Mike Hazelwood

Joseph has amazing talent as a musician, whether singing, guitar, piano, trombone or percussion. But even more amazing is how he is so willing to share his musical gifts with his community. He gives guitar lessons to children and even as a part of our after-school program. He is leading the composition and recording of a clean-up song to be played throughout campus at the end of lunch. Joseph proudly represents all the Mission Oak music ensembles he performs with and gives extra effort to help his teammates succeed. Last year, MOHS organized a "senior prom" for elderly folks living in a retirement home; he truly entertained them by singing and playing guitar with Elvis and other rock n' roll classics. And with all that talent, he is somehow the most humble, kind, respectful and overall fun young man you'll ever meet.

Ethan PalominoEthan Palomino
West Putnam Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Janae Rodriguez

Ethan helps around the classroom with anything I need and anything his classmates need. He is willing to help whenever anyone is struggling. He always works hard and tries his best. He goes above and beyond what is expected of him. He is nice and kind to everyone. He is not only kind to the students in his class, but to all of the students on campus as well. He enjoys helping and volunteering regardless of the task. Ethan is a great student and it is a pleasure to have him in my class this year.

Ethan ScheerEthan Scheer
Saucelito School, Terra Bella
nominated by Starlena Holland

We are a small country school where we have the honor and pleasure of watching our students grow. I was Ethan’s first- and second-grade teacher and have watched him grow from a kindergartener into a seventh-grade student. Through all of those years, Ethan has always been an outstanding young man. He has always been a very kind and caring student to everyone. He is wonderful with the younger kids, his peers, and the adults at the school. He is honest and trustworthy to everyone around him. At our small school, we are not just teachers and students we are a family. Ethan is a wonderful member of our school family who deserves to be honored for his great character.

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 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.