Gaithersburg celebrates 15 years of involvement with the CHARACTER COUNTS! ethics program by encouraging local students to express their thoughts in words and pictures. In the past few weeks hundreds of students have been creating posters and essays around specific themes related to good character, which will be judged by members of the City’s Educational Enrichment Committee. A reception celebrating winners, honorable mentions, adult heroes, families, principals, and teachers will be held on Thursday, October 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Casey Community Center, 810 South Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg. Reservations are requested by Thursday, October 13. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-258-6395 x3. This year’s poster contest, “CHARACTER COUNTS! How Will You Serve?” is open to students in Gaithersburg area elementary and middle schools with CHARACTER COUNTS! programs. The contest is sponsored by the City of Gaithersburg and the Gazette Newspapers. Poster contest participants will also be eligible for the Ruth Minette Helz award, sponsored by Maryland 20878®. This award recognizes the one poster that best represents the concept of caring. Ms. Helz (August 14, 1903 - October 23, 1983) was a woman of the highest character whose most notable trait was love – love of family, friends, neighbors, of community and homeland, of justice, honor, and integrity – but above all, love of children. Elementary and middle school students are also participating in an “Adult Heroes in Our Community” essay contest. Participants write about someone who has had a positive, personal influence on their lives related to one or more of the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. This contest is sponsored by the City of Gaithersburg and the Gaithersburg Rotary Club. High school students participate in the Foundations for Life essay contest, in which students select a meaningful quote, reflect on its meaning, and commit to life strategies incorporating the spirit of the quote. This contest, administered by the National CHARACTER COUNTS! organization, is sponsored locally by the City of Gaithersburg and the Montgomery Village Rotary Club. Posters and winning essays will be on display at Lakeforest Shopping Center October 11 – 28. The posters will also be featured at various City facilities throughout the school year. For more information on Gaithersburg’s CHARACTER COUNTS! programs please contact the Community Services Division at 301-258-6395 or visit the City’s website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov.