The staff and students at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School pride themselves on being a Leadership Academy.

On Friday, they had the chance to show some local business and community leaders what it means to own such a title.

More than 60 community members were invited to tour the school, listen to student speeches, and ask questions to a panel of Cerritos parents and staff.

Cerritos incorporates the ideas in Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Happy Kids" and a program called Character Counts that teaches things like respect, responsibility, fairness, and caring.

"A leader is someone who shows respect to others," student council president Jacob Liberta, 10, said. "This school has a lot of spirit."

Brandlee Reginald, who has three kids at Cerritos, sat on the parent panel and spoke about her experience with the school.

Parent involvement is a key component that the staff said is crucial for success, and because of that Reginald said her family has adopted problem-solving issues taught at the school into their home life.

"It's great to utilize the strategies when your own family is having a conflict," she added. "You learn right along with them. The way it is taught, they understand exactly what the characteristics of a leader are, and what they stand for."

The Seven Habits are: being proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and sharpen the saw-are posted all around the school. They are integrated into classroom instruction, Principal Darcy DiCosmo said.

"This is a belief and this is what we are doing for our kids," she said.

Parent involvement added another dynamic three years ago when the Dad's Club was formed. They meet on a regular basis throughout the school year to discuss parenting issues.

"The momentum going forward in this club is outstanding," DiCosmo said. "We have dads focusing on leadership and they are showing their kids what it is like to be a citizen in the community."

To find out more about Kyrene de los Cerritos, the Leadership Academy, or the Character Counts program, visit

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