Nearly 70 Corona del Mar Intermediate School students were honored for their "good character" in a special ceremony Monday morning in the gymnasium.
And it didn't take long for Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry to quote the late John Wooden — in the heart of USC territory, no less — to the hundreds who showed up for the special event.
"Character is important, and coach John Wooden knew that," Curry told the seventh- and eighth-graders and their parents. "He knew that the character of his players were more important than the talent."
Wooden, who died last week at age 99, was a renowned college basketball coach for UCLA, winning 10 national championships as the "Wizard of Westwood."
The event was put on by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.
While Corona del Mar Intermediate's students haven't exactly reached the great coach's plateau, they're well on their way, as Principal Guy Olguin expounded on the students' great personalities and character in the classroom.
Jerry Weichman, a clinical psychologist, was invited to say a few words to all of the students.
Weichman offered these 10 pieces of advice:
Learn from your mistakes
Stay positive and focused
It's not what we say, it's what we do; act
Don't preoccupy yourself with the success of others
Life is one big boomerang; choose what comes back to you
Leave this world the way you found it
He finally concluded his speech with a famous quotation — sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill but not with certainty — he picked up along the way: "You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give."
Each grade had three special honorees: The seventh-graders were Reilly Barry, Hoyt Crance and Kira Woods. The eighth graders were Jake Huggins, Micaela Larsen and Elizabeth Russell.
Each of the seventh-graders to receive honorable recognition for their outstanding character were: Matilda Bress, Steerling Brown, Hugh Crance, Sally Debbas, Henry Fenmore, Lauren Hanna, Matt Hollander, Austin Huang, Brandon Huang, Ben Humphreys, Noah Lawson, Brittany Murphy, James Neiger, Strom Ossenmacher, Ezra Pali, James Pflughaupt, Stefan Reid, Lindsey Rempalski, Luke Santa Maria, Lexi Simmons, Chance Sneary, Garrett Spruth, Erin Stefano, Tess St. Geme, Katie Toda, Alex Wendland, Brianna Westrup, Elin Wolker, Andie Wright and Kristin Yin.
The seventh graders were: Rafah Ali, Lara Alptekin, Vikram Baid, Bailey Beauchamp, Natalya Buchwald, Robin Caston, Eliza Clark, Trevor Cohen, Taylor Daoust, Emily Glenn, Ellie Graham, Sarah Graham, Bobbi Hoose, Karley Johnston, Kacie Kline Andrew Larsen, Travis Martin, Victoria Martinez, Daniel McCabe, Ashley Meyers, Kirsten Morehouse, Lauren Nakamura, Anthony Neiber, Ben Pace, Tayler Peterson, Alina Schwenk-Mueller, Bo St. Geme, Sachi Uyemura, Briton Valdez and Hang Yang.