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

Thanks to your participation, more than 4,600 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 2020 Kids of Character nominees

On Saturday, October 24, 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 2020 Kids of Character Week, October 19-24. View the two-page ad. View the descriptions written by the nominators for each of the 143 students.

2020 Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees

Of the more than 4,600 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 30 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards. On November 17, a Drive-Through Celebration was held to present certificates, scholarships, and other awards to these special honorees. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students.

In lieu of the awards ceremony which is normally held each year to honor these exemplary students, a video was created to highlight and honor these special young people.

View the video (approximately 30 minutes).


Top Honoree:

Sutter LautenschlagerSutter Lautenschlager
Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore
nominated by Nathan Keith, Teresa Carranza

Sutter is a very motivated student ready to learn. He is not afraid to ask questions. He displays a great respect towards his peers and teacher. He is always ready to help if anyone needs it. Sutter brought to my attention a discrepancy in my policy about copying, but also brought to my attention copyright law infringement when asked to copy the definitions of the vocabulary words in our curriculum. When originally assigned the first vocabulary lesson, I told students to write the definitions in their own words because they would be using sources outside the provided curriculum. In the second vocabulary assignment, I allowed students to use the online curriculum for defining their vocabulary words and I said it was okay to copy those definitions. Sutter brought to my attention the copyright law, because he did not want to copy anything he does not have the right to copy. Sutter was the only student out of 95 students to raise this concern which made his honesty and trustworthiness really stand out to me. That and many other distance learning experiences with Sutter have shown me he is an honest, trustworthy student – the kind that would not cheat even if he had a golden opportunity to do so without ever being caught. It is evident that this honesty comes from being honest with himself, and for these reasons, I nominate Sutter Lautenschlager for Character Counts recognition.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Sutter.


Mario CalderonMario Calderon
Farmersville High School, Farmersville
nominated by Audrey Westbrook

Mario is actively involved in Farmersville FFA and the Agriculture Department. His motivation, enthusiasm, and drive to get involved in everything he can in the chapter and beyond is contagious. He also assists in many projects at the school farm, from greenhouse production to small animal care. He works hard and shows respect to his peers, fellow officers, advisors, and community members. He has always been respectful of people, animals, and school property. We are extremely proud of the man Mario has grown to be.

Isaac GarciaIsaac Garcia
Stone Corral School, Visalia
nominated by Christopher Kemper

Polite, conscientious, hardworking, friend to all, are just a few ways we can describe Isaac Garcia. We can always depend on him to be on task, follow directions, and be eager to learn, even in virtual classes! Socially, Isaac is a friend to everyone. He greets classmates and his teacher with a "good morning" each day and leaves us with a "have a great evening". "Please" and "thank you" are common parts of his daily conversations.

Rebecca KassabRebecca Kassab
Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore
nominated by Vicky Edwards

Rebecca stood out from the first day of school as being distinctively trustworthy. When I ask if anyone has any questions and no one responds, she will. When I ask for a student to share work via screen share, Rebecca offers. In putting herself forward, she then inspires others to do the same. But she never overrides another student, she is willing to let others go first, and she responds with positive feedback.

Harper MendonsaHarper Mendonsa
Palo Verde Union School, Tulare
nominated by Stacy Gimbarti

Harper is a student who models and displays trustworthiness in this Distance Learning model. She listens and cares about what others have to say, which shows that she values and cares about the thoughts and experiences of the other students in class. She does what is right, even when someone isn't looking. She does her work with diligence and effort. If she has questions or needs additional help, she seeks out that help because she truly cares about doing her best!


Top Honoree:

Danica SchaubDanica Schaub
Kings River Union School, Kingsburg
nominated by Jenny Burrow

I am nominating Danica Schaub for a variety of reasons, the main reason is for respect and caring. I could have checked more on this list, but it would only allow one check mark, so I had to decide. Danica has been a wonderful student when I have had her for the last five years in GATE class. Danica comes to class prepared and makes the best use of her time while there. Of course, we are working under entirely unique circumstances this year and our GATE classes begin this week. I recently have been uprooted by the Creek Fire and was in evacuation from my home for nine days. This delayed GATE classes beginning by two weeks. I received an email from Danica where she stated she hoped everything was alright and that we would be back in our home soon. Of course I didn't get the email until after I returned home this week. I answered her and she sent an email back saying she was happy everything was alright and she is looking forward to beginning her classes with GATE this week. This is just an example of the kind-hearted gestures this student does on a regular basis. She is sensitive to other's feelings and is always there to help with supportive words or deeds when needed. This to me is the epitome of respect for an 8th grader to be concerned in this way for the teacher, something she regularly does. Danica is in 8th grade this year and I will miss her terribly when she moves on to high school. Her character of caring for other people shines through with the good teachings she receives from home. Despite carrying her own health worries every day, Danica’s heart is always there to help someone else. I am nominating her with a personal connection here because it just solidifies what I have always known from this young lady. Thank you for considering her for a Character Counts award.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Danica.


David CastellanosDavid Castellanos
Royal Oaks Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Arlene Cota

David is taking on a new school, new faces and a new way of learning. He has jumped in with both feet and is always ready to learn. David is willing to participate, he has his materials organized nicely within arm’s reach, and instantly applies what is being taught. I enjoy seeing his learning wall set up right behind him with all the sight words and other clippings of the week's focus.

Gerardo EspinozaGerardo Espinoza
Pleasant View Elementary School, Poplar
nominated by Tashima Irving

Gerardo is always focused and ready to work, raises his hand when he needs assistance or wants to participate. I never have to worry about him interrupting other students. He understands the importance of waiting his turn. Gerardo is respectful to other students and he will help them answer questions when they are stuck during lessons. He is organized, respectful, and keeps his mother informed on what assignments are due.

Bryce NagelBryce Nagel
Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Daniel Dutto, Clemente Fagundes, Tina Setser

Bryce had the opportunity to interact with other FFA students from across the nation. During that interaction, Bryce was always respectful to others and showed true interest in them. He built multiple relationships with students and was an excellent representative of Tulare and the state of California. Bryce consistently shows respect to the advisors and teachers in the program. He has earned the respect of his peers by leading by example and is always willing to help others.

Omar SarmientoOmar Sarmiento
Cutler Elementary School, Cutler
nominated by Raquel Barragan

Omar embodies respect throughout the learning day. He has been a role model for his fellow classmates, showing others how to engage via distance learning, with respect. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the way Omar waits patiently, with his hand up when he has a connection to make. He waits patiently, does not talk out of turn, and enjoys hearing his classmates share as well.


Top Honoree:

Santiago VazquezSantiago Vazquez
Wilson Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Melissa Graham

Santiago is self-disciplined and sets an excellent example for his classmates. He has an amazingly positive attitude and is diligent in all tasks and assignments. I can always count on Santiago to do what he is supposed to do. He has managed to overcome difficult challenges this trimester and finds a way to get online and participate every day. One day, Santiago rode around in the car with his caregiver when the home internet was down just to make sure he didn't miss class! It is with great pleasure that I nominate Santiago Vazquez as an Outstanding Kid of Character.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Santiago.


Giselle Blanco-HernandezGiselle Blanco-Hernandez
Dinuba High School, Dinuba
nominated by Brittany Sumpter

Giselle displays all the qualities of the CHARACTER COUNTS! traits, but responsibility is the one characteristic that stands out. She was diagnosed with a medical condition, which impacted her academics negatively. She shared how she spent the quarantine working on bettering herself (both mentally and physically). Giselle has taken responsibility to work on herself. The work and assignments that she has been submitting has been PHENOMENAL!

Diana ReynagaDiana Reynaga
Hope School, Porterville
nominated by Justin Bailey

When Diana first arrived in class, she was a shy young girl who did not speak much in front of peers. During distance learning, Diana has taken charge and is a very hard worker who is conscientious of always giving 100% and willing to go the extra mile. Diana is very dedicated, completes her work on time, and is very attentive to detail, which is necessary in her core subjects.

David RomeroDavid Romero
Monache High School, Porterville
nominated by Christie Bennett

The Monache Ag Department presented David an unpaid job on the farm – to plant pumpkins for the fall season. David jumped at this opportunity! He said, "I just want to be outside and have a project, and something to do!" David continues to take care of his pumpkin plants and they are still flourishing to this day. It is comforting to know that I can step away from the farm and trust that David could handle the tasks needed to keep the farm in check. He truly is a Pillar of Responsibility.

Gamela Saleh Gubran SaadGamela Saleh Gubran Saad
Dinuba High School, Dinuba
nominated by Tamyra Tomlinson, Monica Arreola

Gamela was really struggling at the beginning of this school year with distracting conditions at home and challenging internet connections. She completed all of her missed work in spite of all of the challenges. Gamela is very kind and respectful, a self-starter, and a hard worker. If Gamela does not know the answer, she will utilize her resources and find the answer or the person that can help her.


Top Honoree:

Adair Panzo OlveraAdair Panzo Olvera
Highland Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Maricel Loya

Adair is a very fair young man. He knows and understands the importance of staying focused and sharing our time in small group instruction. He doesn't take time away from others in our breakout times or in our whole group. He is always working hard to help others that need help with reading in our small group reading time. He is kind and encourages others by saying "Good Job! You almost got that right". Adair also goes on to say, "He deserves Dojo points for working so hard Mrs. Loya". When it was time to give homework points to the class, he had finished his Math and not his Reading because his parents work late and couldn't pick up his reading bag from school on time. However, he did a different reading. He said, "I don't deserve those points Mrs. Loya." His honesty and fairness just amaze me. I said, "You do deserve those points because even though you didn't do the group reading, you still did a different reading and you didn't even complain. You just did it!" I'm very proud to have Adair in my class.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Adair.


Damian ChaconDamian Chacon
Lincoln Elementary School, Exeter
nominated by Betsy Bentley

I have been so impressed by Damian's leadership skills in our breakout room sessions. He skillfully leads conversations and is able to provide guidance in his group. He gently leads his classmates to read passages and answer questions. Damian impresses me with his maturity and sense of responsibility. I am honored to be his teacher and have the opportunity to nominate him for this award.

Noah Rodriguez Noah Rodriguez
Roosevelt Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Selena Rhodes

Noah is always showing his classmates how to participate and play fairly. He takes turns speaking in Zoom class and listens to his peers share their thoughts. He keeps an open mind about his peers likes and dislikes. He is mindful of his participation, always wanting his classmates to chime in as well. Noah is a wonderful example of fairness in our classroom.

Kaylee ValenzuelaKaylee Valenzuela
Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Monica Cisneros, Brenden Sanchez, Natalie Ruiz, Maria Lupercio

Kaylee has demonstrated responsibility by being on time and participating in every activity. She has really been an example to her peers on what responsibility looks like in our program. Kaylee is willing to continue with the after-school program and makes sure she is participating in every aspect. Kaylee is a kind, respectful and trustworthy student who is very well-rounded. Her family and teachers are very proud of the young adult she is becoming.

Christopher VasquezChristopher Vasquez
Liberty School, Tulare
nominated by Paiton Lackey

Chris is always willing to share in class, formulates his answers to questions in a way that helps other students understand better, and truly cares for his teacher and classmates. He will often ask things like, "How was your weekend?" or "How did everyone sleep last night?" because he wants to make sure everyone is doing okay. He holds himself to a very high standard, and makes sure he stays on top of his work.


Top Honoree:

Abigail MunyonAbigail Munyon
University Preparatory High School, Visalia
nominated by Kenny Munyon

We want to nominate my daughter, Abigail Munyon, for the 2020 Character Counts. While we think Abigail exemplifies all Character Counts traits, she is truly one of the most caring individuals we have ever met. Her caring nature was evident ten-fold in March of 2020 when students were thrust into distance learning. With two parents working full time, Abigail and her siblings faced distance learning on their own. This was made even more difficult for Abigail's younger sibling who is on an IEP. Without Abby, we do not know how we would have kept the house running. In addition to her own set of classwork and Zooms, Abigail made meals for her siblings, kept them entertained, and even helped her sister take her medication every day. Her calming nature and quiet demeanor brought a sense of peace to a difficult and scary time. Abigail’s caring nature shined brightest around her younger sister. Abigail took the lead on teaching her school work with patience and kindness, even when frustration was high. Throughout this, Abigail maintained her status on the Principal’s Honor Roll and her above 4.0 GPA, while also taking college classes at COS. As we moved into the Fall, Abigail has continued to care for her sister throughout the new school year. This includes helping her little sister navigate through the nine separate Zoom links she needs to attend each week. Abigail has her own loaded schedule with 10 classes, including another college course, and has once again maintained her high GPA. We could not be more proud of how nurturing and kind Abigail is to her siblings time and time again. While most people in her situation would be frustrated or angry, Abigail is far from it. When we come home from work every day, laughing and giggles can be heard coming from inside the house. The girls are usually dancing and singing together. During a time when many students are feeling anxious and upset, Abigail and her sister continue to smile. Abigail does not do all of the above because we have asked her to or because she was forced to. Abigail does it because that is just who she is. Her innate caring nature has been evident since she was a young child. While the circumstances are not ideal, we are truly grateful for the tremendous bond these two sisters have formed over the course of this unique situation.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Abigail.


Matix AguinagaMatix Aguinaga
Rocky Hill Elementary School, Exeter
nominated by Katie Tomcak

Going through distance learning thus far has shown Matix’s true colors. He is an outstanding student and classmate that our class is extremely lucky to have. Matix noticed there was trash on campus and took the initiative to start a club to pick up trash during recess. He has a huge heart and a passion for helping others before taking care of himself. It is his selflessness and his drive that has made this nomination an easy one to make.

John-Paul BarbaJohn-Paul Barba
Palo Verde Union School, Tulare
nominated by Stacy Gimbarti

John-Paul always greets everyone with a smile and hello. He cares very much that students get a chance to speak and share when they are willing and ready to volunteer. He unmutes his microphone and reminds me that someone has the hand gesture up or an actual hand up. John-Paul helps keep an eye on students who lost their internet connectivity and may have missed what was happening during Zoom. This helps with follow-up after class.

Sofia BrisenoSofia Briseno
Pinkham Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Frank Ghiglia

Sofia quickly addressed that using a digital platform was incredibly difficult for most students in her class. Sofia asked if she could create a digital "how-to" presentation for her peers to keep up with the assignments from their teacher. The students in her class were very appreciative that she took the time to help them. Sometimes having a fellow student explain how to do something is just enough of an extra push to help with understanding.

Janessa CervantesJanessa Cervantes
Accelerated Charter High School, Tulare
nominated by Christopher Covert, Wendi Powell, Roxanne Bernard

Janessa is responsible for her current senior-level courses, and she is also taking care of five kids below age 10, daily, while family members are at work. Janessa is someone that staff can count on at school even during Distance Learning. She is always willing to help her teachers and others. Janessa is the first student logged into Zoom class, and she is always one of the first students to complete her work while maintaining high grades in all of her classes.


Top Honoree:

Yahir Rivera ChavezYahir Rivera Chavez
El Diamante High School, Visalia
nominated by Zachary Brown

Yahir is an exceptional student that has been an active member of our Agricultural program and FFA Chapter here at El Diamante since July 2018. He is not exceptional because of his wonderful smile and most appreciative attitude, but rather his dedication to his family and education. Yahir is a 3rd year Agricultural Mechanics student and FFA member at El Diamante HS. He has been very active in our FFA chapter by participating in various meetings, conferences, industry tours, career development events and fundraisers. Last year, he helped our FFA Cotton judging team place 5th high team in the California FFA State Cotton Judging Contest hosted by Fresno State, November 2019. Yahir maintains a high GPA at El Diamante by taking AP classes, foreign language, Math 3 and many other academically challenging courses. Last semester he earned a 3.5 GPA. He is currently an English learner and is at an EL-3 level. To me this exemplifies his willingness to overcome challenges and not giving up. What makes him truly merit this recognition is that Yahir does all that he can to provide for his family and future success by the work he does with his family's main source of income as an agricultural field laborer. He has worked over 600 hours as a field laborer in the United States and Mexico since July 2018. Many of the hours have come since schools went to virtual learning in March 2020. His main crops include harvesting melons, olives and citrus. He is currently submitting a Tulare/Kings Sectional FFA Proficiency Application for his hours and income he has contributed to his family in the area of Pomology Production Placement. This is my 18th year in Agricultural education and it is not often I have a student like Yahir. He never complains, always has a positive and caring attitude. His citizenship is outstanding and I learn from his dedication and hard work he does for his family and future career success.
Read the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register article about Yahir.


Brett HulseBrett Hulse
Sunnyside Union School, Strathmore
nominated by Gloria Ramos

Brett started the year with his great-grandmother helping him get on Zoom. He relied on her doing it all. As frustrations arose for "Grandma Kathy", Brett stepped up and learned how to take his education into his own hands. He did this as a responsible student and caring great-grandson, knowing how important it was to not only do this for himself, but for Grandma Kathy as well. I am proud of him for doing things on his own and relieving Grandma Kathy of so much she never imagined she would ever do in her lifetime!

Addison NunezAddison Nunez
Pixley Middle School, Pixley
nominated by Nicholas Teddleton, Deborah McCaskill

Addison has continued to support the community of Pixley through many community service projects, lifting up her peers both emotionally and academically, and demanding a sense of accountability and standards for all those around her. This is a young lady who impacts others with her great spirit. With her drive and determination, Addison is a great role model to our youth, as a leader, a dedicated scholar and a vibrant member of her community

Joshua RodriguezJoshua Rodriguez
Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Mark Hatton, Darren Bennett

Josh is a credit to our community. He has spent countless hours cleaning up the roadsides in the Tulare area. In class and on campus, Josh is always there to help the younger students with anything they need. Josh is humble, kind, and caring. Josh always makes the younger students feel welcome and safe. Josh has been a starting linebacker on Tulare Union's Varsity football team. His willingness to take the younger athletes under his wing and mentor them is a joy to watch.

Samuel VargasSamuel Vargas
Porterville Military Academy, Porterville
nominated by David Archer

During distant learning, Samuel still goes out of his way to help new and veteran cadets. He can spot when cadets are having bad days and doesn’t hesitate to see if he can either brighten their days or find a way to help the cadets resolve problems. He volunteers for many events in the community and activities that deal directly with Porterville Military Academy. He continues to work at his parent’s restaurant and he still maintains a 4.0 GPA.

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.