During its April 16 meeting, the Oregon Board of Education recognized seven students who, throughout the school year, individually turned in money they found in a bus, hallways, playground and cafeteria at Jerusalem Elementary School.
Principal Dean Ensey explained that the students, Jayden Auger, Madison Campbell, Katie Clark, Gage Glass, Emma Hansen, Orlo Horsley and Madison Maix, selflessly turned in money they had found.
“A couple of them found $22 on the bottom floor of the school. One found $20, two found $5, one found $1 on the playground and another found $10 in the hallway,” said Ensey.
The school looked for the rightful owners of the money, said Ensey, but it remained unclaimed. So the money was returned to the students who turned it in. The school also gave each student a certificate for ice cream from the cafeteria. The school board gave the students certificates celebrating their honesty.
“In school we teach lots of things,” Ensey said. ‘We teach about academics, reading, math, and science, but honesty and integrity comes from home. We are honoring the students and the parents.”
Ensey, who has spent 21 years as a principal at three different schools in the Oregon system, said students have, over the years, found money and turned it in. In this case, having seven students do the right thing in the same year was something he found extraordinary.
“We talk about honesty and citizenship throughout the year,” Ensey said. “I thought that this was such an awesome thing, that seven of them had the integrity to turn that money in, that we had to do something for them. I thought we should make a point to other students in school that honesty and integrity is something we value. This really is a credit to the job their parents have done, raising kids who are honest like that.”
Oregon school board President P.J. Kapfhammer said after the meeting that some adults may not have been able to do the right thing.
“It is good to see kids who are honest,” Kapfhammer said. “A lot of the time, we forget how good kids really are.”
Superintendent Dr. Michael Zalar said the students showed what good character really is about.
“I am so proud of the honesty these children demonstrated,” Zalar said. “It would have been very easy to just put the money in their pockets and keep it. Nobody would have ever known the difference. Instead, they chose to do the right thing and turn it into the office. That is what character is all about - doing the right thing when no one is looking.”
Jeff Ziviski, board member, said the students’ actions were a true testament that parents are still actively engaging their children at home and teaching them the tools they need to succeed in life.
“Kudos to all of the children and their parents for doing the right thing,” Ziviski said. “We have a tremendous amount of success stories happening everyday in our schools, and this is just one of them. The fact that Mr. Ensey took the time to recognize and honor these students and to bring them to our monthly board meeting so that the board could see the type of upstanding children that are coming through our schools says a lot about the type of leader he is at the school and the environment he creates. I am really proud of these children. They are the future of our world and I think we are in good hands."
Jamie Campbell, mother of Madison Campbell, 10, said she and her husband Kevin could not be more proud of their daughter.
“We were also surprised. I did not know it happened until the school gave me the money she found to give to her. We try to raise kids with good morals. You just never know if they get it, if they heard what you told them until something like this happens,” said Campbell.
For her part, Madison said her only thought when she found the money two months ago was to take it to the school office.
“It did not belong to me so I just gave it to the office,” Madison said. “My friends are proud of me. They congratulated me and told me ‘Good job.’ I think other kids who find money should not keep it and turn the money in and tell someone you found it.”
Amy Hansen said she and her husband Ron were also very proud of their daughter Emma Hansen, 11.
“Emma found the money at the Santa Shop at Christmastime,” said Hansen. “A teacher told me Emma had found $5 on the floor and she was concerned someone would not be able to make a purchase. I was very pleased to find out she turned it in and was concerned for someone else.”
Emma said she never thought about keeping the money.
“I did not know whose it was and I asked a teacher to ask people if it was theirs,” Emma said. “I did not think I should keep it because I had enough money. I think kids who find money should turn it in and do the right thing and not be selfish.”