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April 2014 Winners


Kendall Carson is a 6th grader at Southwest Middle School and was nominated by Officer Dave Torres.

On Thursday, March 13th 2014, Officer Torres was in his office when Kendall Carson knocked on the door. Kendall is a good hearted child that, at times, seeks the help of Officer Torres with school and personal issues. On this day, Kendall said he needed to talk about something weighing heavy on his conscience. After he sat down, he said he knew of someone who had committed a burglary over the weekend. Officer Torres asked him how he knew of the incident and Kendall said a close friend told him he had done it.

Over the next fifteen minutes, Kendall described the store and its possible location. His friend said it was the store next to Sunny’s Gas Station. Using the internet, Officer Torres located the store believed to be the location but because it was out of LPD jurisdiction he would need to call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Before doing so, Kendall said his friend was caught at his school, Bill Duncan Opportunity Center, with the money he’d stolen from the burglary. After contacting the school resource deputy, Deputy Pete Serrano, he verified Kendall’s information about his friend and the money. At that time Officer Torres advised Deputy Serrano about the alleged burglary and a possible location.

Deputy Serrano called a few days later and confirmed there had been a burglary to a store adjacent to the gas station as described. The manner in which the store was broken into and the property stolen was consistent with Kendall’s information. He further stated detectives working the case were coming to the school to interview his student.

The student confessed to burglarizing the store and showed the deputies where he’d hidden the stolen property. All of the stolen items were recovered and the case was closed with the suspect’s arrest. Without Kendall’s assistance, the case could not have been solved and the owner of the store would have incurred a loss.

Kendall Carson could have been like so many other kids who wouldn’t have come forward with this information. In this day and age with many of our youth adhering to the street code of “not snitching on others,” Kendall’s courage in the face of possible repercussion is more than admirable; he truly epitomizes the Do the Right Thing philosophy and spirit we keep teaching our children.


Cooper Ellis is a 4th grader at Cleveland Court Elementary and was nominated by his principal, Daniel Lunn.

Mr. Lunn says that Cooper is and outstanding young man. His example of “Doing the Right Thing” should leave most people thinking; “ If he can do this much for others at age 9, imagine what could be done if we were all willing to give as much to help others less fortunate?” Inspired by an author who came to tour our after-school book club, Cooper decided to write his own book. He titled his book, “The Race of a Lifetime” and dedicated it to a family friend who had recently died after her battle with cancer. He said that he wanted to “write about helping with cancer research so other people don’t have to die of cancer”. Since that time, word about Cooper’s book has spread. He sold copies of his book to others and recently gave proceeds from the sale to the Inheritance of Hope Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to help children whose parents are facing life threatening illnesses. Cooper’s book uniquely binds together more than one theme and includes messages about hope and overcoming obstacles including “bullying”.

Cooper’s giving doesn’t stop there, Cooper has made approximately 6 trips to Haiti to help build a school there in the mountains for less fortunate village children who walk miles to attend. He has helped raise funds through yard sales and other fund-raisers. He has also collected clothing, shoes and books. Funds collected also help pay for children who attend the school because as in our country, “free” education is not possible in Haiti. Cooper has befriended the children of the village’s he has met during the numerous trips to Haiti and believes deeply in this mission of helping others. Cooper believes deeply in helping others less fortunate.


Ashlyn Kosmicki is a 3rd grader at Rochelle School of the Arts and was nominated by her teacher, Mrs. Shelly Luty. Mrs. Luty says that Ashlyn is a very special young lady.

One very cold day, Ashlyn noticed another student did not have a coat. Ashlyn took her coat off and gave it to the little girl to wear. Mrs. Luty told Ashlyn that she would be cold herself if she gave her jacket away. Ashlyn said, “I don’t mind, it’s only one day”. When the other kids saw what Ashlyn did, two other students gave the little girl a scarf and ear muffs to wear. Because of Ashlyn’s kindness, two others were inspired to be kind as well. As a result, my coldest student became my warmest. This is the kind of behavior I see all the time with Ashlyn. She is always looking out for others and treating them with kindness. I am very proud of her selfless behavior and always putting others needs before her own. She is a shining example of what it means to “Do the Right Thing”.




Kate Lambert and Payton Reynolds are 7th graders at Rochelle School of the Arts and were nominated by Officer Lori Edwards. 

The girls are being recognized for their actions on Wednesday, February 5, 2014.  On that date the girls came to school and reported to a school administrator that the previous night, a very good friend had posted on Instagram that she was going to kill herself. Upon seeing the post Kate and Payton started messaging their friend and telling her how important she was and how much she was loved. They continued to praise their friend and encourage her to stay strong and not to do anything rash. They let her know just how special she was and how many people would be hurt if she ended her life. Kate and Payton told their parents about what was happening and they came with the girls to the school to report the incident. Kate and Payton stayed up very late that night talking with their friend in hopes that she would listen to reason and not harm herself. To their relief, when they arrived at school the next morning they saw that their friend was also at school. The School Resource Officer spoke with their friend and learned that she had planned to overdose on pills the night before but because Kate and Payton had been persistent and reassuring she decided not to do it at that time. The friend is now receiving the help she needs to overcome her issues. It takes so much courage to stand up to others but a great deal more courage to stand up to your friends. Kate and Payton have shown that there are no issues that can’t be overcome as long as you chose to “Do the Right Thing”. And because they chose to do just that, a beautiful young lady is still with us today.


Giselle and Felicity Ruiz attend Southwest Middle School. Giselle is in the 6th grade and Felicity is in the 8th. The girls were nominated by their guidance counselor, Mr. Robert Vogel.

Mr. Vogel heard that Giselle and Felicity had a received a text from a friend stating that he had a knife and was going to kill himself. They took the text and showed it to their mother, Rebecca, who called 911 and gave the dispatcher the information needed for police to make a home visit. The police officers and the boy’s parents discovered the boy with a knife in the bathroom. He admitted to them that he was thinking about hurting himself. The young man was admitted to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he received the help he needed. His parents credit the girls’ actions for saving their son’s life. The girls took the boy’s text seriously and asked their mother to help them help their friend and she did. Their quick thinking and willingness to “Do the Right Thing” saved their friends life.




Katie Lyn Schaefer is a 5th grader at Oasis Christian Academy and was nominated by her aunt, Nona Dyess. She thinks her niece is extra special.

Nona says, I have three (3) certified therapy dogs and Katie volunteers with me at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Katie is such a wonderful girl with a big caring heart and she is such a joy to the patients, their families and the staff, not to mention how great she is at handling the dogs. While visiting patients she passes out small gifts and candy made by the women at our church. During one visit she sat with an older gentleman while his wife was dying. He told me what a sweet girl she was and how her visit meant so much to him. The gentleman also asked us to visit his family in the waiting room. Many of the patient’s, families and staff members love having a young caring child give of herself in such a caring way. Katie has such a good spirit and gives of herself freely, and this is evident as she visits with the patients on the pediatric wing. Everyone realizes just how lucky they are. This is proof positive that the concept of “Doing the Right Thing” is alive and well in our young people.


Nadevious Simmons is an 8th grader at Rochelle School of the Arts and was nominated by a teacher, Ms. Donna Tidwell.

Donna says, my contact with Nadevious is in the cafeteria at breakfast first thing each morning. While the cafeteria is not an academic setting, Nadevious stands out due to the respect he displays to the adults and his peers each morning. He is a role model for younger students and always has a kind word and a smile for those around him. If younger students are not following the procedures, Nadevious will remind them to make better choices. He demonstrates the characteristics of a leader. Nadevious sits in the same general area at breakfast each morning. I have noticed that different students choose to sit with him. That says a lot to me. He has friendships that overlap many circles within the middle school setting! Having a positive start to the school day is important for all students and Nadevious helps to create a positive atmosphere in the cafeteria each morning.

Ms. Tidwell went one step further and spoke with Nadevious’ academic teachers to find out if they saw the same characteristics as she did. His teachers were in agreement and stated that his respect and kindness towards others is apparent in their classrooms as well. Nadevious is a student who knows what it means to consistently “Do the Right Thing”.


Joseph Williams is a 6th grader at Lake Gibson Middle School and was nominated by his teacher, Ms. Patricia Horne.

Joseph is a great student, both academically and behaviorally. He is called “Honest Abe” by his peers and teacher because regardless of what his friends say or do he will “Do the Right Thing”- which shows that he has integrity. Ms. Home attributes these characteristics to the rearing by his very hardworking parents. Joseph does not come from a privileged background and has very few luxuries, and is not afforded the technology that other students take advantage of. Regardless, Joseph is grateful for everything he has and is given.

Although Joseph initially struggled with going to middle school and the adjustment period, he received lots of encouragement from his teachers and parents and coupled with his own growing desire to succeed, he has transformed into an outgoing young man that can be proud of his accomplishments. Joseph is the type of student who loves learning. He’s one of those rare students who works very hard and diligently, but does so with a smile on his face. He has a genuine caring for others. It should come as no surprise that Joseph is well-liked and admired by his peers.

Joseph combines his academic ability with a strong work ethic making him a very successful student. He is enthusiastic about new projects in class. He is also dedicated and acts unselfishly when it comes to working on projects. It does not matter to him who gets the credit; he just works hard for the benefit of all. Although he may seem shy at times, he has a wonderful personality which includes excellent manners, strong morals, a sense of humor, and a sense of responsibility. Joseph is kind, friendly, and helpful to those around him regardless of their popularity, he has an infectious smile, can be counted on to do his very best and is extremely helpful to others. He volunteers to do extra duties to help out classmates and is a responsible young man. His qualities of “fun”, responsibility and respectfulness seem to embody the whole idea of a well-rounded “Do the Right Thing” recipient.