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      Ottumwa becomes first district in the state recognized as a District of Character

      Ottumwa School District is the first district in Iowa to be named a District of Character by the national organization Character Counts.

      The designation is usually reserved for individual schools. However, after OHS received an honorable mention last year, Ottumwa wanted to try and nominate the entire district. Receiving this award means every school in Ottumwa demonstrates the six pillars selected by Character Counts.

      Those are: caring, fairness, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility and good citizenship.

      Improving the culture and attitude at Ottumwa schools has been a focus for the district for the last few years. Successful events like the Halloween and Christmas parties, Veteran's Day ceremony and recognition like Evans Middle School's students of the week and the high school's pursuing victory with honor award are all ways the district shows its character.

      "We've done both very public, big things and very daily, individual things to demonstrate that character matters," said Shannon Vesely, School Improvement Leader for Grades 7-12, "It's the foundation upon which all student achievement, all personal success lies."

      Next, community members, school board personnel, staff and students will attend the awards banquet in Des Moines on August 1.

      From there, Vesely said the district will continue to build upon the successes its seen so far.