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DIONNE GLEATON/T&D Edisto High School freshman Santana Elizabeth Kinsey is the Orangeburg County Community of Character honoree for the month of February. Kinsey was recognized for her commitment to honesty after she turned in $140 she found at the school.

Santana Elizabeth Kinsey is a quiet young lady, but her actions speak volumes.

Clothes, food and shoes are among the items the 14-year-old Edisto High School freshman could have bought with the $140 she found at school one day, but she had other plans.

She looked around her and saw two male students and a teacher before figuring that such a large amount of money must have belonged to the teacher. She followed and turned the money over to the teacher. The teacher said the money was not hers and took it to the office, where it was eventually claimed.

Because Kinsey didn’t think twice about returning the money, but valued the principles of uprightness and fairness that she said her parents instilled in her, she has been designated the exemplification of honesty for February 2007 as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.

“I didn’t ever think of keeping it. My parents taught me to take responsibility for your actions, tell the truth, watch out for others and treat others as you would like to be treated,” said Kinsey, a humble, soft-spoken teen who values honesty and the other character principles taught at Edisto High School.

“Honesty and all the character traits are very good to have in life. Honesty shows that you’re trustworthy. It means people can trust you with responsibility and give you more responsibility,” Kinsey said. “If people don’t take character seriously, then they’re not really being very mature. They can’t be trusted sometimes.”

Gloria Kirkland, EHS behavioral specialist, said Kinsey is a shining example of the successes of character education.

“Character is doing what is right when no one is looking, and Santana did just that. I was very proud of Santana, especially with her being a high school student with so much peer pressure to do the opposite. This happened just a few days before we dismissed for the Christmas break, and Santana probably could have kept the money to purchase gifts; however, she chose to do the right thing and turn the money in,” Kirkland said.

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“She said that she felt that someone may have needed that money, and she didn’t like the thought of someone needing money and not having it. The seed of honesty had to planted there at an early age,” she said.

Indeed Kinsey said it was her parents, Randy and Patricia, that helped her to become the trustworthy young lady she is.

“Well, my parents are good people at heart. Everyone has flaws, including teachers, but flaws make a person a person. Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes mistakes can actually teach you things,” she said.

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