Character Counts
Col. Gregory D. Gadson, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander, is greeted by Emily Klien and Lailya Abdullah Muhammad, Student Council Association Ambassadors of the Fort Belvoir Elementary School. Gadson was at the school Jan. 10 to talk to students about Responsibility as part of the Character Counts program.

Fort Belvoir Elementary school students shouted answers like "clean your room," "do your homework," and "be nice to your classmates and siblings" during the third installment of the Character Counts program, Jan. 10.
Those are the answers they gave Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson, Garrison
Command Sgt. Maj. Chester D. Grelock, and members of Headquarters Battalion, while discussing the meaning of Responsibility, the third pillar in the Character Counts program that Headquarters Battalion initiated at the school.
Gadson and Grelock were this month's special guests since they are perfect examples of responsibility, according to Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, Headquarters Battalion, Fort Belvoir, commander.
"We thought 'responsibility' would be good for them (to highlight) since they are responsible for the entire post," Zarchin said.
Gadson took the opportunity to talk to the students because he said character is an attribute people develop; it's not something they are born with.
"Children are capable of deep thought," said Gadson. "So, if you can plant ideas and have them evaluate themselves in regards to those ideas that can be very beneficial for them."
Grelock took the opportunity to speak to the children as a way to give back to the installation.
"It is our school and we just wanted to be good stewards and talk to the children about character and anything else they wanted to talk about," said Grelock. "I thought it was very important."
Becoming Garrison Commander, co-starring in the summer blockbuster Battleship, and his affiliation with the New York Giants of the National Football League are examples Gadson used for what being responsible can allow you to accomplish. He wanted to use examples from his own life to show the children what being responsible can allow a person to accomplish.
"If they took anything away from my discussion with them, I hope it's to always do your best," said Gadson. "If you always do your best then you will build that responsible character."
Upon arriving in the two fourth-grade classes they spoke with, Gadson immediately asked the children for their definition of responsibility. He received answers that ranged from listening to your parents and teachers, and always being honest.
Gadson wanted the children to ask questions instead of him giving them his opinion of what responsibility means.
"With such a young crowd, I figured it would be best to take their questions and let them lead the discussion," said Gadson. "I just thought that would be more beneficial."
Hannah Taylor, a student in teacher Kathy McKay's fourth-grade class, discussed the responsibilities she has at home with Gadson, Grelock and her classmates.
"I clean my room and do my homework," Taylor said. "I read and help my sisters and mom do stuff around the house."
Zarchin and Headquarters Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Carolyn Reynolds were impressed with the answers they got from the children for examples of responsibility.
"Some of the children said one of their responsibilities is walking their dog," said Reynolds. "They can identify the meaning of the word when they respond that way."
The previous two pillars reviewed with the children were trustworthiness and respect.
Reynolds said she and Zarchin can tell the children are paying attention to the lessons because they remember the previous pillars discussed when asked about the battalion's previous visits.
"They know us now when we walk in and they're looking forward to us coming into their classrooms and talking," Reynolds said. "That shows they are listening and that's the key."
Zarchin agreed, adding a person has to be responsible for themselves before accomplishing anything else.
"If you are responsible for yourself," said Zarchin. "You earn the respect and trust of others."

Page last updated Thu January 17th, 2013 at 00:00