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Public Statements

National Character Counts Week

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL CHARACTER COUNTS WEEK -- (Senate - September 27, 2008)



Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I rise in support of a resolution designating the week of October 19 through 25 as the 2008 ``National Character Counts Week.'' I would also like to recognize and thank my colleague and good friend, Senator CHRIS DODD, for his support of Character Counts and his partnership on numerous legislative issues throughout the years.

Our character is the foundation of who we are as people and how we are perceived by the world. Every day our character and ethics are tested through the decisions we make and the behavior we exhibit. The National Character Counts program focuses on ``Six Pillars of Character,'' which are promoted through school- and community-based character education programs across the country. The six pillars are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

I have supported Character Counts throughout the years because I believe this program reaches out to all youth and adults, as the Character Counts Coalition states, no matter the individual's race, creed, politics, gender, or wealth. In my home State of New Mexico, we have run many successful Character Counts programs throughout the years. While many schools initiate Character Counts programs there are also many other organizations that develop character-based programming. As I prepare to leave the Senate, I would like to reflect upon some of the tremendous accomplishments of this program and how it continues to affect New Mexicans in a positive way.

This year, the New Mexico Character Education Program, funded by the Partnership in Character Education Federal Grant, included 14 school districts and five charter schools statewide, with 50,726 students participating in 106 schools statewide. Through this program, the ``Six Pillars of Character'' have become a common thread of communication for students, teachers and parents across the State. In addition, 3,640 coaches, athletic directors and youth sports officials worked, in conjunction with the New Mexico Activities Association, to incorporate the goal of teaching the ``Pursuing Victory with Honor'' theme to students participating in sports. I am thrilled that schools and communities in New Mexico saw a marked increase in leadership role participation and a change in the school climate: Eugene Field Elementary School in Albuquerque, NM, has seen a decrease in discipline referrals from five per day to five in the school year. All of the organizations and schools who have been involved, including those not mentioned here, are to be commended for their hard work in developing these programs and spreading the message that character truly does count.

In addition to these numbers, which show the remarkable affect Character Counts is having on my home State of New Mexico, there are many individual stories about how New Mexicans are affecting each other's lives on a day to day basis as a result of this program. One particularly touching story is that of 9-year-old Jacob Thomson, who lives in Clovis, NM. Jacob has cystic fibrosis, and when he missed the big basketball game to go to the hospital for treatment, the Clovis High School basketball team went and visited him in the hospital, bringing him a basketball, a shirt, and a smile. These athletes had been involved with the Character Counts program and displayed what a powerful impact this program has had and continues to have.

During the week of October 19, I hope everyone takes the time to participate in a Character Counts event in their local area. I know in New Mexico we will be having some special celebrations. On October 17, a Character Counts Proclamation will be made at the Chaves County Court House in Roswell, NM. On October 20, Hagerman Elementary School in Hagerman, NM will be dedicating a Character Counts Mural. On October 21, a zoo tour and pillar presentation will be held at Spring River Park for grades 3-5 in Roswell, NM.

I believe this program is making a difference in my home State and across the country. I want to encourage more people to become involved with the Character Counts program, but most of all I hope individuals will take the time to reflect on what the ``Six Pillars of Character'' mean to them.

I hope all of my colleagues will support this effort.

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