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Three Students Receive Character Education Award

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MAY 21, 2019 – At a recent meeting of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, three students were honored with a 2018-19 Character Education Award. They were chosen from more than 100 nominations.

Hugh Fitzgerald is a fourth-grader at Whitaker Elementary School. Hugh was nominated by Bob Snyder, who teaches fourth grade.

Isael Olmedo-Mayo is an eighth-grader at Flat Rock Middle School.  Isael was nominated by Deb Fidali, who is the media coordinator.

Destiny Griffin is a senior at West Forsyth High School.  Destiny was nominated by Brittany Cox, who teaches physical education.

Hugh 2 In making her presentation, Sara Harmon, the school system’s Program Manager for Health & Physical Education, said, “This year’s recipients each embody the district’s seven pillars of character, which are: courage, caring, perseverance, self-discipline, respect, responsibility, and integrity.”

The person nominating the student wrote about the student.

Here is what Bob Snyder had to say about Hugh Fitzgerald:

“Hugh is a very well-rounded young man. He’s an excellent student academically, is an athlete, and is a good citizen. He is caring and decided - of his own accord - to become a vegan due to his concern for animals and their welfare.” 

“He shows empathy toward others and doesn't think only of himself…  When he received a Starbucks gift card for Christmas, he chose to give it to the school crossing guard because she was cold, he figured that she could get something to warm up, and he couldn’t bring her hot coffee since he bikes to school. He bikes approximately ten minutes to and from school most days, which indicates his parents know he is responsible – and explains how he knew the crossing guard must be cold on those winter mornings.” 

Hugh 3 “The school’s guidance counselor also knows he is responsible and chose him to tutor a second-grader two days a week in the morning and despite this extra duty, he still gets all of his work done. Hugh is respectful of both teachers and other students. He displays good manners and is willing to work with other classmates, not just his friends.  He maintains good relationships with all of his classmates, regardless of their differences.” 

“Hugh displays integrity and will always tell the truth, even if the consequences might be detrimental to him. He has a strong moral compass and seems to innately distinguish right from wrong.”

“Hugh’s second-grade teacher, Ms. Susan Stephens, said ‘Hugh is one of the most selfless students I've ever taught. He is funny, witty, and has a personality that makes all the other students want to be around him. He is a great role model and is just one of those students that teachers love to have in their class!!’”

“Ms. Jessica Hurst said, “As Hugh's third-grade teacher, I have wonderful memories of our year together. Hugh has an appreciation for life.  He approaches everything with a sense of vigor.  He also has a kind heart.  He is sensitive to the feelings of those around him. After the loss of my dog, I was brokenhearted.  Hugh made a card for me that I still have hanging up at home. He always has a cheerful disposition and certainly kept me smiling last year. Hugh still stops by my room every morning to say hello (and visit our pet fish.)  It means so much to me that he takes the time to say hello  Hugh's character qualities run deep. He is truly deserving of this award.’”

“Ms. Jennifer Lockert, who has known Hugh for many years, said ‘Hugh Fitzgerald is beyond the masses; he is kind, responsible, helpful, calm, and other-centered. Hugh has a sense for other people's needs and uses his self-sufficiency to be a leader.’”

Isael 13 Here is what Deb Fidali wrote about Isael Olmedo-Mayo:

“Isael is the epitome of responsibility. He is an avid reader and leads the school in reading. His goal has been to read all of the books in the media center. At the rate of 680 to 750 a year, he is making a dent in it! This dedication to reading is not the norm for his peers, yet he perseveres daily. He is an English as a Second Language (ESL) student, but yet he reads much more than those whose primary language is English.”

“This is Isael’s second year as a Media Helper. He is the most regular and conscientious worker that we’ve had in our library. His goal is to leave the library with all tasks completed every day. He always suggests books to others and has convinced a few of his non-reader friends to begin reading for pleasure. At times, we have to explain the integrity required in being a media helper and respecting other’s privacy. This has never been an issue for Isael, as he is great about assisting without prying.”

“Isael is also active in school sports and clubs. He has competed on our school's soccer team for the last two years, is in the Fellowship of Christian Students club, and this year, Isael also participated on the Battle of the Books competition team. On the BOB team, he showed maturity and confidence as he jumped in and supported his school. He was a wonderful example of caring and respectfulness for the sixth grade students on the team. He is friendly and kind, but knows when to follow directions. I have observed his self-discipline in both BOB competition, while working in the Media Center, and in his regular interactions with his peers. We will truly miss this wonderful young man next year.”

“One of his study skills teachers, Ms. Tonia Walker states, ‘Isael is a polite and dedicated student. He comes to class prepared and gives his best effort every day.’”

Isael 5 “Mr. Kent Hobson, another of his teachers, said: ‘I am so very proud of him for winning this award. The popular definition of character is doing the right thing even if no one is watching. He is that definition.  I've had the pleasure of having Isael in my class for 2 years. He is an outstanding - and upstanding - young man.  I wish there were more students like him around school.  I wish him good luck and hope he enjoys high school and continues to grow in academics, social settings, and dealing with his peers.’"

Here is what Brittany Cox wrote about Destiny Griffin:

“Destiny has unwavering perseverance, self-discipline, and responsibility. She is a great student, unbelievable athlete, and the oldest of ten children. Since her freshman year, her responsibilities have included much more than working to maintain a 3.2 GPA and participating in extracurricular activities such as sports and the Black Achievers Club. She has worked extremely hard in the classroom and competed at the highest level in athletics, all while balancing a part time job on the weekends and helping her family in any way that she can. Only the people who know her best know all of the things she has taken on to help her family, peers, teachers, and coaches.”

“This winter, she competed in two sports, track and field and basketball, during the winter season. She won a state championship in indoor shot put while breaking school records in the process. She also won a state championship in basketball, scored over 1,000 career points, and was named the team's Most Outstanding Player - among several other accolades. But those achievements pale in comparison to the legacy she's left at our school because of her character.” 

“All of Destiny’s teachers speak highly of her because regardless of everything she’s had on her plate, she refused to make excuses and entered the classroom with a smile every day. This school year, she was named West Forsyth’s Student of the Month because of her hard work and self-discipline. You expect students in high school to make mistakes because that's part of growing up; however, Destiny shows wisdom beyond her years because she knows that she has 9 siblings who look up to her.”

Destiny 1 “She has patience like no one I've ever met and puts others before herself every chance she gets. Our basketball team unanimously voted for her as a captain because of the caring nature and the selflessness she shows on a daily basis. Our younger players followed her every move because of her great leadership. In the pre-season, we were going through an intense drill and one of her younger teammates got frustrated and scolded someone in her group. Instead of yelling, Destiny pulled her teammate aside, put her arm around her, and calmly explained that teammates don't yell at one another but instead, lift each other up. She explained that we have to act the way we would want to be treated, especially when we’re faced with adversity.”

 “When Destiny was younger, someone told her that she would never be able to play at the Division 1 level in sports. For some kids, that would hold them back from achieving their dream. For Destiny, it did the opposite. She’s had people tell her that she ‘can't’ several times in her life but she continued to focus on the things she could control, stay positive, and never give up. When Destiny has faced adversities in her life, she’s gracefully turned them into triumphs. As a result, she is going to East Carolina University next year on a scholarship for track and field.”

“Everyone at our school knows Destiny because she has achieved so much success and received so many accolades in athletics during her time at West - but everyone truly loves her because they know how rare it is to meet someone her age with such a positive and inspiring perspective. I can't put into words just how much Destiny has meant to our school community but I know my life has forever been changed because of her. Without a doubt, anyone who has been blessed to get to know her, has certainly become better as a result.

Destiny 2 “Anne Atkins, a Chemistry Teacher at West said, ‘Destiny is the epitome of a student athlete; she is dedicated to success both on and off the court. She does not see problems, she sees challenges, and she gives her best effort in everything she does, whether it is doing a lab in chemistry, working on classwork problems, practicing basketball, or participating in a track event. Destiny values learning and understands that struggling is part of growth. She is respectful, mature, responsible, and most importantly, she is kind to everyone. Destiny has embraced her challenges and used her experiences to develop into an outstanding young woman and an integral part of the West Forsyth Titan family.’”

“Ms. Boger, a West Forsyth math teacher, said, ‘Destiny is a dedicated young woman with an awesome heart. She not only juggles school and sports but also helps with her siblings while maintaining a positive attitude and good grades! She was an awesome student, and I cherished m time getting to know her.’”