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Character banners brighten Canal walkway
TUSD banners
Turlock Unified School District recently hung 10 new character strength banners along Canal Drive that recognize students who exemplify each trait (FRANKIE TOVAR/The Journal).

Whether they’re walking their dog or going for a jog, those escaping the confines of their homes along Canal Drive’s Joe Gallison Pathway can now do so with a little encouragement from Turlock Unified School District students who exemplify outstanding character.

Located on the walking path between Colorado Avenue and Berkeley Avenue, 10 brand-new character strength banners now adorn the lampposts in front of the District Office. From “Achiever” and “Includer” to “Resiliency” and “Empathy,” the traits are selected annually by TUSD to recognize the district’s Rotary Students of the Month and align with its strength-based development training.

When the previous character strength banners began to fade and age, the TUSD Executive Cabinet reached out to their Chief Communication Coordinator Marie Russell to come up with a concept for a new series of banners. This time around, they feature photographs of students who demonstrate each characteristic. The district’s maintenance and operations staff were able to hang up the display, created by Team Fitz Graphics, as part of their ongoing essential work at the campuses, and by Friday the 10 new banners were flying high.

“We hoped these banners might help bring some cheer to our Turlock community and remind all who see them of the strengths we have within to weather this difficult and challenging time,” Russell said.

Each month, TUSD campuses solicit recommendations from teachers on students who embody these character traits for Rotary Student of the Month recognitions. The district has also created posters of the character traits to hang in all of the classrooms, with examples of each provided by secondary principals. According to Russell, the traits align with TUSD’s strategic plan goal of helping students to develop and demonstrate positive character traits.

Students in the Turlock High School NJROTC program serve as a shining example of “Responsibility” on a banner, while athletes Kyle Tran (Pitman High School) and Jazmyn Tubbs (THS) show others how they can be an “Includer.” Some photos featured on the banners came from Russell’s stockpile of TUSD images she takes while documenting life on each campus, and others were acquired thanks to high school yearbook teachers Virginia Barr and Vicente Rosales.

Russell also utilized the talents of one THS photographer for a banner and set up photoshoots of her own with Tran, Tubbs and boxer Sandra Tovar of THS, who represents “Self-Assurance” on a banner.

“Being on the banner means so much to me knowing that I have made a difference in Turlock, and I hope it can inspire children that they can do anything they dream of,” Tovar said. “What self-assurance means to me is to fully believe in myself and to not doubt myself, as well as knowing that God will always be with me through anything.”