Hundreds of students recognized at Celebration of Character ceremony

May 20—Hundreds of students were recognized for outstanding examples of personal character Saturday during the Celebration of Character program.

The event, hosted by the women's clubs of Aiken, featured a performance by the Bound to Sing Aiken Boys Choir led by director Brandon Ball.

"In the two decades we've been doing this, we've recognized over 5,000 students. These are the students that we can look to for our future as they become adults," said Betty Thomason, Aiken Woman's Club chairperson. "These are students who are making the right choices even when nobody is looking — they think."

Nearly 200 students were recognized from 40 elementary, middle and high schools, both public and private.

"What a relief it is to know that we have future leaders here today," said guest speaker Betty Ryberg. "These character traits are more than character traits for each one of you. They are your superpowers."

Each student received a certificate, along with a letter written about them by the person who nominated them for the award.

"This is one award that is as much for the parents as it is for the kids. Because you know what? You're the one that taught them this good character," said Thomason.

Former Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, who sparked Aiken's Character First initiative, was also remembered and honored at the event.

"Mayor Cavanaugh recently passed away, but his legacy will long live in our city for the things he initiated, for what he brought to us," said Mayor Rick Osbon. "He really wanted to identify our city as a city of character."