Carsen Centanni takes the Golden Rule to heart.
The shy 10-year-old has a ready smile when two strangers from the Sun Herald show up at her door Friday morning. The house is decked out for Christmas. Carsen is wearing a bow in her long curly hair and a shirt with sequins on front.
Carsen’s teachers say she is an all-around Terrific Kid, a solid student who can always be relied on to befriend others and help them when she can.
The Gulfport Kiwanis Club recognizes about 1,800 elementary students a year as Terrific Kids, a way of reinforcing good behavior and recognizing children who are Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive and Capable.
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That would be Carsen, who is in fifth grade. She has been named a Terrific Kid most every year in elementary school.
It’s very important to me for them to be polite. It seems to be a lost art.
Rick Centanni, Carsen’s dad
“She’s kind of quiet in class,” said her homeroom and math teacher, Nicole Estes, “but once you get to know her, she’s fun, has a good sense of humor and seems to get along with everyone in the class.
“She’s just an all-around good student.”
Estes tells substitute teachers, if they need anything, Carsen would be a good one to ask.
Her father, Rick Centanni, said that he and his wife, Kristie, drill Southern manners into Carsen and her identical twin sisters, 8-year-olds Parker and Sofie.
“It’s very important to me for them to be polite,” he said. “It seems to be a lost art.”
They also are big believers in the Golden Rule.
“I tell Carsen all the time, ‘You are nice to everyone,’ ” Kristie Centanni said. “You treat people the way you want to be treated . . . Thank God, it clicked.”
Plus, Carsen was born with a sweet nature. She and her fellow students love the Terrific Kid celebration each month. They all gather in the gym for pizza and Kiwanis Club member Stephen Gainey announces the award. The winner gets a certificate, pencil, Terrific Kid bumper sticker and stickers.
Carsen said Mr. Gainey likes to put stickers all over the winner, and that’s always funny.
She said one of the perks of being nice to others is that it makes them happy. And there’s a second one, too, she said: “It makes me happy.”
Gulfport Kiwanis Pancake Day
The Gulfport Kiwanis Club’s 60th annual Pancake Day is coming up.
When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Dec. 7. If you want to catch Santa, he will visit from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 2301 15th Street, Gulfport.
What: Donate $5 for a meal that includes pancakes, sausage, coffee and milk.
Why: The Kiwanis Club hopes to raise more than $12,000 this year for programs that include Terrific Kids awards at all Gulfport elementary schools, Builders Clubs at Gulfport middle schools, Key Clubs and Athlete of the Month at Gulfport and Long Beach high schools, college scholarships, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children and the Eliminate Project to end neonatal tetanus worldwide.