TULARE, Calif. - Every week, in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education, we tell stories about South Valley students with character.
It's not the size of a building that determines how much character a school has, but the people inside that matter.
At Waukena Elementary School in Tulare, character comes naturally to one of those students inside named Katelin Cortez.
An 8th grader who is known for being kind and always being there for her friends.
"Whenever Katelin comes into the room, she is always super happy and makes the atmospher better," Haley Nolta, Katelin's friend said.
Katelin is a leader in her classroom, and is known around campus for just saying no to bullying.
"She does not let people get away with getting bullied or hurting other people," her friend, Mia Marin said.
Katelin lives by the motto, "See something, Say something", and is never afraid to tell teachers if a bullying situation is going on.
Her 8th grade teacher Melinda Mills adds:
"She knows the difference between right and wrong. Her parents have taught her that there are time that she needs to say something and there is a level of maturity that you don't normally see in an 8th grader."
A young woman who stands up for others, when so many others choose to sit down.
"She cares about her friends," Mrs. Mills said. "She cares about her classmates. She cares about her school. She cares about making good decisions and she works really, really hard."
Learning early, that life is what you make it. And character is a choice.
"Character counts because it molds you," 8th grader, Katelin Cortez said. "It's the person who you are. It is the person when you walk up to someone. It is what they recognize about you.
"You can always make it better if you don't think you have nice character. You can always work on it."
Katelin Cortez of Waukena Elementary School shows us why Your Character Matters.