One Visalia student's simple act of giving a true testament to his incredible character

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Every morning, La Sierra Military Academy senior and Second Lieutenant Malachi Williams leads a company of junior high cadets in formation. (KFSN)

Every morning, La Sierra Military Academy senior and Second Lieutenant Malachi Williams leads a company of junior high cadets in formation.

"We're eighth graders, like we don't always listen, but most of the time we do. He has to have confidence in himself so he can give us orders so we can listen to him and to do the right thing," said Michaela Betbeder, La Sierra 8th grader.

"He's really good at doing his jobs and he knows how to cooperate with us and he's like a good teacher," said Feather Hurd, La Sierra 8th grader.

Williams commands with confidence, but it doesn't take much to catch a glimpse of his disarming smile.

"If you just on them all the time, constantly, it's like they're not going to want to be here, so you gotta try to make them get involved in some type of way."

Williams wasn't always involved himself, struggling in school, before enrolling at La Sierra his junior year. He said he wanted to improve his grades, and become a better person.

"I think Malachi has faced, like many of us, some hardships in his life. And he's had to become very strong and make some decisions for himself to lead him in the right direction," said Anjelica Zermeno, La Sierra Principal.

Through Tulare County Office of Education's Character Counts program, principal Zermeno said La Sierra has a commitment to building honorable cadets in and out of the classroom who are not just academically driven, but intent on being a good citizen, and giving back to their community.

In late March, Zermeno received an e-mail from a former school district employee about seeing Williams helping a woman in need outside Visalia's Rescued Treasure's store.

"I watched as he took the blanket he had purchased and covered a homeless woman standing outside of the store. He then reached into his pocket and gave her some cash as well," Zermeno read.

"If that was me on the floor, and I didn't have anything at all, I would want somebody to come help me, and I've been in her shoes before, and it doesn't feel good," said Williams.

A couple of months ago, Williams said his mother lost her job and they lost their house. They slept in the car once or twice, and spent many nights at a Motel 6 in Tulare.

Now Williams said they stay with his grandmother in Pixley.

But Williams hasn't let those hardships deter his future plans. La Sierra awarded him with a $500 scholarship, and he will soon start a carpenter apprenticeship.

Though Williams' time at La Sierra has come to an end, he has some sage advice for the school's young cadets.

"Just stay motivated, stay motivated. Treat others with respect, that's a big thing. If you treat others with respect, you'll receive respect."

Related Topics:
societyact of kindnessmilitaryhigh schooltulare countychildren firstVisalia
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