Sam Hilton, 12, is in fifth grade at Pineville Elementary and has been selected one of three students to win Charlotte-Mecklenburg School's Character All-Star award for January.
Each month, students from CMS schools are nominated by a teacher for the award. The student must exemplify that month's character trait as part of the CMS Character Education program.
In January, Sam was nominated by his teacher, Cathy Surridge, for the citizenship character trait.
Lorraine Zelenz, Pineville Elementary's counselor, helped choose a student and submitted the application on Sam's behalf. She said no matter what hard times he is experiencing, Sam always helps others with their problems before working on his own.
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"He's such a good role model for everyone around him," said Zelenz. "Most kids his age are only thinking about themselves, but he is thinking of everyone else in his community.
"He really is extraordinary."
Sam said he likes helping his friends and his school community. "I help them with math, their problems, and I help with the composting and recycling," he said. "It makes me feel good."
"Plus, I really don't like to see others suffer."
Sam and his friend and classmate Juan Eichelberger are the leaders of the composting and recycling team at Pineville Elementary. Sam said his stepfather, Robert Ott, has been the inspiration behind his involvement with the team.
"He's always in his garden and taught me how to recycle," said Sam. "We watch the History Channel together and learn about why (recycling) is good for the Earth."
Ott said he is excited for Sam to win the award.
"You never hear about students winning in elementary schools," he said. "It's usually the high school students who get it. I'm really proud of him."
Sam will be honored at Pineville Elementary's Character Tea on Feb. 24 and also will be featured on the school's morning announcement show.
Sam said he is nervous about appearing at the tea. The youngest of five, Sam is shy and has learned to be humble.
"I hope I don't have to give a speech," he said.