Online tool to help develop character, good choices launches at Pilgrim Academy 

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Student also wins two Super Bowl tickets from United Way through essay contest 

A new online course designed to help students develop character and engage in healthy relationships debuted Friday, Feb. 3, at Pilgrim Academy with much fanfare. The NFL, the Houston Texans, the United Way of Houston, United Way Worldwide, and Verizon came together to launch Character Playbook, which was developed by education technology innovator Everfi, Inc.

Character Playbook is designed for middle-school students and teaches character education and how to communicate effectively, understand and manage emotions, and resolve conflicts. Prior to an assembly, there was an opportunity to talk with students working the program in a computer classroom.

“What I learned in the program is that having good communication skills will allow you to read other people’s faces and actions so you can help them if they are struggling with something in their life,” said eighth-grader Charlene.

HISD Trustee Anne Sung mingled with students in the classroom before moving to the auditorium, where she was joined by Houston Texans Jeff Allen and Kurtis Drummond, former Green Bay Packer and Milby High School alum Donald Driver, and Texans cheerleader Ashley S. They all spoke to students about making good choices, while Texans mascot Toro encouraged the crowd.

“If you’re stressed out about the people and things happening in your life, that makes it really hard to focus on school, right?” Sung asked the students gathered to celebrate the occasion. “And that’s why if you’re in happy, healthy relationships, if you have good communications skills, and if you know how to make good choices, you’re likely to do better in school and better in life.”

Other speakers included Houston Texans TV host Drew Dougherty, Pilgrim Academy Principal Diana Castillo, United Way of Houston Vice President Lynne Cook, Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes, and Verizon Vice President of Retail Sales Michelle Miller.

Cook shared with students that Lady Gaga’s foundation, Born This Way, has donated 1,130 Mattel toys to the school, one for every students.

The program ended with a big surprise. Cook announced that Ariel Deleon had won a student essay contest on character. Her prize included two tickets to the Super Bowl, as well as other items donated by the NFL. Deleon’s mother was there to add to the surprise.

Cook concluded the event by reading a sentence from Deleon’s essay: “There will come a time in life when you have to take a stand and knowing who you are will say whether you stand or sit and watch.”

Character Playbook will serve thousands of middle-school students in the Houston area, effective immediately.