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Bogue Chitto Attendance Center promotes good character

The Bogue Chitto Attendance Center is teaching more than just math, science and reading. Since the beginning of the current academic year, the school has sponsored a values-based program aimed at bolstering selflessness in its students.

The initiative, called “Character Counts,” is designed to show children the importance of leading a principled life. Librarian Kim Nelson spearheads the project, and she has devoted a great deal of time and energy to spreading social awareness among the school’s kindergarten-sixth graders.

“We’ve pulled several things from different character programs and created something that works well for us,” she said.

Every month, Nelson builds a lesson around a specific quality and leads corresponding discussions during “library time.” Her lectures follow the acronym TRRFCC — which stands for trustworthiness, respectfulness, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

“As part of our lessons, we read a story that ties in with that month’s character trait,” she said.

After each reading, she hosts a question and answer period. Nelson believes the informal conversations allow students to fully process what they’ve learned.

“It lets them think about the lesson on a deeper level. That’s especially true with the younger students,” she said.

She lays her lessons out as practically as possible, helping the children consider the broader impact their actions have on those around them. She also encourages her pupils to ask questions and interact with their peers.

“It’s like we’re sitting in the living room, just having a talk,” she said.

The program also offers incentives to students who demonstrate good character. Each homeroom teacher selects one well-behaved child per month for school-wide recognition.

Chosen students have their pictures posted on a prominent bulletin board, and they also receive public acknowledgment at halftime during school ballgames.

“The parents are really proud to see their children get recognized,” she said.

“Trustworthiness” was September’s characteristic of the month, and the students who best demonstrated dependability were: Layla Burt, Ky Waldrop, Ja’Cedric Gaines, Elijah Edwards, Hailey Beth Hodges, Kinley Wisinger, Hannah Barr, Stone Wallace, Alex Horn, Destini Harron, Camden Donaho, Colby Terrell, Jenna Miller, Anna Sawyer, Oreva Smith, Abby Catalano, Gracie Chisholm Gabby Kirkland and Maddox Bigner.

“Respectfulness” was emphasized in November, and the students who best typified respect were: Amarion Flintroy, Aric McFall, Jayden Sides, Crews Carpenter, Christian Gable, Leigha Gates, Kaylee Sawyer, Jayden Cannon, Haley Sides, Harleigh Benefield, Bella McKee, Carter Harveston, Cadence Wool, Mikel Ann Montgomery, James Sides, Jeremy Whittington, Victor Williams, Gavin Nevels and Riley Ray.

“Responsibility” was January’s trait of the month, and the students who were the most responsible were: Logan Gerald, Molly Williamson, Lillie Waydick, Anna Keaton, and Maggie Rose Ray, Jurnee Richardson, Chloe Blackwell, Haley Hodges, Layla Burt, Grant Boyd, Taylor Jackson, Ethan Bales, Abigail Holder, Tarvas Collins, Nathan Evans, Tyuna Washington, Cassidy Donaho and Caroline Jordan.

The Bogue Chitto area has shown tremendous support for “Character Counts.” For example, TJ’s café on Monticello Street recently gave each of the program’s exemplary students a coupon for free french fries, and Southern One Stop donated gift certificates for free 16-ounce drinks.

Nelson believes there is a direct correlation between the overall health of a community and the social consciousness of that community’s children. So, long-term, she hopes to create a similar character-building program for Bogue Chitto’s older students.

“We’re dedicated to creating citizens. We’re forming and shaping our children into good people,” she said.