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8:57 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Traveling assembly teaches kids character

PRESCOTT VALLEY – During a recent Choices Count Assembly, Coyote Springs and Lake Valley Elementary schools' gyms echoed with the chant: "if it is to be, it is up to me."

The assembly featured an interactive educational format that focuses on the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. These six pillars are a counterbalance to the many negative influences – such as bullying, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gang violence and dropping out of school – which youths encounter regularly.

Thanks to money from the Arizona Behavioral Initiative Committee, students across the state have an opportunity to be a part of the program. Primary Focus, a non-profit group that consists of five teams of eight college-aged people, conducts the energetic and entertaining assembly. After months of intense auditioning, the youngsters volunteer their services for one year. During that time, they reach out and impact the lives of more than 1.25 million children across the country.

According to Coyote Springs Principal Marcia Gatti-Smith, behavior is a critical element to learning.

"You can't work on learning if you don't improve behavior," she said. "The more ways we can find to share the same message with kids, the more opportunities they'll have to get it."

Friday's interactive entertainment, dramatic choreography, fun and energetic music all focused on the fact that children, from a very young age, are in charge of making their own decisions. Those decisions relate to the six pillars of character.

"If you make good choices, good things happen," said Shanna Harvey, a Primary Focus performer. "If you make bad choices, bad things happen. Smoking cigarettes or getting into drugs are bad choices."

The performers also explained to the students what pillars are all about.

About 2,000 years ago, pillars supported major structures in Rome, one said while showing a picture of an ancient structure. They also displayed pictures of the United States' most important buildings that have pillars, such as the Capitol and the White House.

Then, the actors focused on each pillar of character.

"It is okay to be different," one of the actors said after performing a skit on respect. "A person who is respectful, treats others with respect. A real good way to show your respect is to obey your parents."

A story about a girl who used drugs before driving a car and killing a mother and her baby was an example of making a bad choice. She went to prison for 20 years.

"She wasn't a bad person," said one of the actors. "She just made a bad choice. Each of us is responsible for the choices we make. Do what you're supposed to do."

The writer used information from the web site:http://www.primaryfocus.org/whois.html

Contact Mirsada Buric-Adam at mburicadam@prescottaz.com