“I respect now.”


From El Nuevo Dia in Puerto Rico (translated by Olga Ortiz Collazo, with help from Google Translate):

His tears were more eloquent than words. Alexis Gonzalez, a fourth-grade student from the José D Zayas Elementary School in  Las Piedras, just wanted to tell Governor Luis Fortuño about the impact Tus Valores Cuentan (CHARACTER COUNTS!) has had on him, but seeing tear after tear stream down his sweet face, the Chief Executive understood.

“I respect now. I used to fight a lot, and now I’ve changed  because I don’t fight, I don’t look for fights,” Alexis told the Governor, still unable to hide his emotion. The Governor praised his determination and courage, as did Jesenia Medina, his mother, who testified to the positive changes.

“Everyone knows he was a really tough kid to deal with on the playground, but Tus Valores has helped me at home, too. He doesn’t fight anymore. If we hadn’t started [teaching] values, over time he might have become a bully,” Alexis’ mother said. “The Six Pillars … for me have been really big,” she said.

Several children expressed their appreciation to the Governor, Secretary of Education Jesus Rivera Sanchez, Las Piedras Mayor Miguel “Micky” Lopez, and the rest of the visitors who participated in this school’s news conference highlighting the impact of the program. The students explained that the program helped them improve their discipline, respect, and responsibility. It also motivated them to undertake special projects in their classrooms and throughout the school, where they painted and developed gardens.

“When a community works together, the result is excellent students,” Principal Marta R. Davila testified. She also thanked the Volunteer Parents Committee for their involvement. One of the members is  Alexis’ mother.

“Without the involvement of everyone, the entire community, the program would not go as far as we want it to,” agreed Governor Fortuño. He said that currently 205 schools are implementing Tus Valores Cuentan, as well as programs from the Department of Recreation and Athletics. The program will increase its reach next year, but he couldn’t say how many more schools will adopt it.

During the event, the Governor also recognized the academic excellence of nine sixth-grade students graduating with the highest grade-point averages. He awarded each of them a laptop.