CMS launches CHARACTER COUNTS! program

Lisa Jager Journal Staff Reporter
With the launch of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, signs listing the program's six pillars of character hang throughout Central Middle School classrooms.

In a time when stories about bullying and bad behavior among youth seem far too common, the timing is right for Devils Lake's Central Middle School (CMS) to launch a CHARACTER COUNTS! program.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a character building framework based on the six pillars of character that help schools and youth programs to create a culture of respect and kindness among students, staff, and parents. The six pillars are trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, caring and citizenship.

According to Jared Schlenker, CMS assistant principal, the program is new to Devils Lake Public Schools. Schlenker said a recent speaker at a school event really “struck a nerve” with him about what type of long term impact the CHARACTER COUNTS! program could have on students.

He said a principal from Minot, whose school had been using the program for some time, shared that it had really “improved the culture and the climate at the school.” The principal said that older kids who had gone through the program would tell younger kids “that's not how we act here” when they see instances of inappropriate behavior.

Schlenker said they are hoping to instill CHARACTER COUNTS! pillars during the important “formative years” and to reach “kids who are coming from homes where these pillars may not be taught.”

He said CMS is beginning the CHARACTER COUNTS! program with the first pillar of citizenship. He said the school will tie the program into its annual service learning day and also into a mock election day.

Throughout the school year, Schlenker said the school will spend approximately one month on each pillar. CMS will next focus on the pillar of caring to tie in with the holidays.

Schlenker said its important that the program is supported and embraced by parents, families and the community.

To follow the progress of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program at CMS, you can follw Schlenker on Twitter at For information about CHARACTER COUNTS!, visit