Former University of Pittsburgh head football coach Mike Gottfried sent a clear message to the parents of the youth who were honored at the Celebration of Character on Sunday evening [co-sponsored by the Center for Character Development at Anderson University]. “You should be proud,” Gottfried said. The now 17-year veteran of cable TV sports network ESPN’s football analysis staff gave the keynote address at Character Counts of Madison County’s annual banquet at Reardon Auditorium.
Parents and educators watched with pride and applauded as their children received honors.
The event recognized athletes and scholars, from five area high schools and Anderson University, who exemplified the program’s character traits.
Those traits, the program’s “pillars of character,” are trustworthiness, caring, citizenship, fairness, responsibility and respect.
Don Peslis, director of the Center for Character Development at AU, emceed the program with his trademark excitement and enthusiasm.
Gottfried acknowledged that leadership trait in Peslis, and offered his praise for what seems like an unprecedented character-building program, where high school and university staff cooperate to build and then recognize students who follow the pillars of character.
Mikella Lowe, superintendent of Anderson Community School Corp., also spoke, emphasizing how important it is that schools and parents work together to nurture students into adulthood.
“I tell you, if all kids followed these pillars of character, we’d have a heck of a lot more time to teach reading, writing and arithmetic,” Lowe said.
Along with the 36 athletes of character that appear on the program’s annual posters, which are displayed around the county to promote the students’ character-building efforts, Peslis and company recognized 20 students who received National Character Counts Awards.
They also acknowledged this year’s scholars of character, a group of about 80 students from area schools who committed themselves to doing community service.
Dan Sager, head of the YMCA of Madison County and Character Counts, as well as first-year Character Counts adult leader Toby Buck, were honored for their support of the program, as were numerous teachers and community leaders.
“If there’s any one bow that ties this all together it’s a big ‘thank you,’ to all the people involved in character education,” Peslis said.
--Lee Noble is a reporter with The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Story reprinted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.