Assistant Principal Jon Wilson, left, and Principal Carol Messura greet students Friday during a celebration of Wolcott Street School's designation as a 2015 National School of Character.
Call it a show of good character, featuring a cast of “good characters.”
About 700 of them, to be exact.
The Wolcott Street School community gathered along Trigon Park on Friday afternoon to celebrate — cheerfully and loudly — its designation as a 2015 National School of Character.
Principal Carol Messura and Assistant Principal Jon Wilson arrived aboard a Le Roy Fire Department ladder truck, which carried a National School of Character banner and was escorted by the fire department along Main Street to the school.
They exchanged high-fives with students, before heading indoors for an assembly in Memorial Auditorium.
The elementary school was named a National School of Character in May by Character.org (formerly the Character Education Partnership), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for character education. School administrators traveled to Atlanta last month to accept the honor.
Messura said it’s something to share.
“This award represents every single student, every staff member, every worker here, every parent, every administrator past and present, board members, families and our fabulous community at large,” she told students.
“This award lives in all of you.”
National Schools of Character are schools and districts where character education has had a positive impact on academics, student behavior and school climate, according to Character.org. Designated schools have the right to use the National School of Character name and logo for five years.
Messura said 276 schools from across the United States applied for the honor this year. Wolcott Street School was one of only 64 schools and three districts that were awarded.
For Wolcott Street School, the story actually began about 15 years ago, when a Character Education Committee was created under the direction of then-principal Jim Thompson.
After his retirement, the character education program continued under his successor, Casey Kosiorek. The school earned a “Promising Practices” award in 2010, the same year it adopted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
Wolcott Street School was named a New York State School of Character in 2012.
Thompson and Kosiorek were among local dignitaries on stage for Friday’s celebration.
“You know what we’re all here for? To make a difference with kids,” said Thompson, who now directs the Instructional Coaching Service for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.
The Character Education Committee was formed in light of changing times, Thompson said. It had become clear that developing good character, was a responsibility schools had to share.
“It needed to be taught and it needed to be celebrated,” Thompson said. “And not in a heavy-handed way, but in a good way.”
Highlights from the assembly:
— John Panepento and Riley Wood each spoke on behalf of the sixth grade, which was asked to describe what character education has meant to them.
— Sixth-graders also sang “Hakuna Matata,” from Disney’s “The Lion King Kids.” The class presented the musical — to rave reviews — on Thursday.
— Wilson announced that every student will receive a T-shirt to commemorate Friday’s celebration. Students chose shirts over wristbands in a school-wide vote.
Friday’s celebration capped “Character Day” at WSS. Students participated in class activities throughout the day.
“Building character in each and every classroom is really our goal,” Wilson said.
“There’s a lot going on in education right now,” he added. “But we can never lose sight of the fact that character education is the heartbeat of our school district.”
Wolcott Street School Principal Carol Messura and Assistant Principal Jon Wilson, center, are pictured Friday with former principals Jim Thompson, left, and Casey Kosiorek.