Julien Elementary School sixth grader Sierra Yandell knows that it is just as important to respect oneself as it is to respect others.
“Respect is something that isn’t just a character trait, but also a character quality that we at Julien learn,” said Yandell. “It means believing in yourself and not putting yourself down.”
With this in mind, it makes perfect sense why Yandell was bestowed with Turlock Unified School District’s Character Counts award for the character trait of “respect” and why she was formally invited to provide inspiration to the TUSD Board of Trustees and the District last week.
“I was very honored,” said Yandell. “I felt like it was a very important speech to be giving because a lot of people should know what was respect is and what it is about.”
When the sixth grader is not behind the podium inspiring Board members, she keeps herself busy in the pool, on stage and outdoors.
Since she was six, Yandell has been a part of the Turlock Seadogs swim team. Even though she originally decided to join the swim team only because older brother was doing it, Yandell’s experience with Seadogs has evolved into more than just bonding time with her sibling.
“The coaches are really great and fun,” said Yandell. “I’ve had great experiences with them and they’ve taught me a lot.”
Yandell reports that she enjoys the competitive aspect that accompanies the swim meets she participates in the most, noting that her competitors only want to make her do better.
“My favorite swim strokes are breast stroke and freestyle,” said Yandell. “I’ve gotten better at backstroke, but it’s still not my forte.”
“My goal with swimming is to get to the Junior Olympics or at least qualify,” she added.
On dry land, Yandell is drawn to the spotlight, having found her place on stage alongside other singers in both Julien Elementary's choir and the choir at First United Methodist Church.
“I got into choir because it just seemed really fun and I enjoy singing,” said Yandell. “Our teacher at Julien, Mr. Adams, is really fun, too.”
Yandell has been on the choir at Julien Elementary since last year and reports that she sings with her church when the opportunity arises.
When asked about what she likes to do in her free time, Yandell did not hesitate with her answer.
“Horseback riding,” Yandell responded. “I love horseback riding so much.”
With an interest that originally sparked when her Girl Scout troop visited a horseback riding facility, Yandell has now participated in horseback riding lessons for the past five years at Rascal Slough Ranch and MJ Misailidis.
Together with her best friend, Sarah, Yandell cannot wait for summer when her horseback riding lessons can commence again.