Operatives with the CIA -- Characters in Action Theatre Troupe -- are gearing up to infiltrate Worthington elementary schools.

Operatives with the CIA -- Characters in Action Theatre Troupe -- are gearing up to infiltrate Worthington elementary schools.

The troupe features students from Thomas Worthington High School's theater program.

Sponsored by Worthington's Partners for Community and Character, the group's direction comes from Pat Kelso, who said students would begin performing skits about character traits this month.

The group numbers about 10-12 each year and performs seven short skits in elementary classrooms, Kelso said.

"The skits might be about new students, or students who feel left out, or about being respectful to others and how to handle bullies," she said. "The performers then ask the students in the audience for their thoughts on the best way to handle situations presented in the skits."

Student performer Max Calderon said he loves working with the kids.

"I remember being in their shoes, at Worthington Park, and hearing about character traits but never really being able to put an image to them," he said. "I love being able to show them that kindness truly matters and I enjoy showing them that through the fun skits."

He said his favorite skit is "Telephone."

"We all stand in a line on our phones, and a compliment starts on one end, but it becomes a hurtful rumor on the other," Calderon said. "It helps to show the dangers of social media and the importance of having positive digital interactions.

"It relates to the kids a lot, because it shows how quickly a rumor can spread on social media," he said.

Kelso said the CIA program is valuable on many levels.

"It is another reminder to always be kind to everyone," she said. "We can never hear that message enough."

She said the student actors make the skits short and humorous and they're always about everyday situations elementary students face, whether in the lunchroom, on the playground or in the classroom.

"This is a powerful program where high school students learn leadership and know they are making a difference," Kelso said.

On the other end of the age spectrum, PCC sponsors the Circle of Grandparents program, where senior citizens volunteer to "adopt" Worthington elementary classes. The volunteers discuss character qualities with their assigned classes through monthly school visits and through letters, cards and email messages, coordinator Holly Richard said.

She wrote on the PCC website, communityandcharacter.org, that, "As a grandparent, you have a vast knowledge to share with our youngest generation, and your insight will be greatly appreciated by the teachers and the children."

Volunteers work two flexible hours per month, divided into 90 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes of class time, Richards said.

People interested in the program should contact Richard at hrichard1006@wowway.com.

PCC board member Jennifer Wene, who is chief academic officer for Worthington City Schools, said PCC is hoping to recruit new members for its board.

"We also want to raise awareness for the organization and its mission," she said.

"We have a new initiative this year, the Character and Leadership Award, in which we will recognize a graduating senior with a $1,000 award for their contribution to building a community of character."

She said PCC is needed now more than ever.

"Worthington is a unique community to have such an organization," she said.

pwillis@thisweeknews.com

@PamelaThisWeek