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Tot rescue

An elementary school principal learned a lesson in manners earlier this month that almost cost him his life.

While monitoring the cafeteria at the 625-student Northridge Elementary School, part of the Putnam school district in northwest Oklahoma City, Ron Christy choked on a Tater Tot while talking to 3rd graders.

He was rescued by 8-year-old Austin Payne, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on him. According to David Klassen, the communications director for the 19,500-student district, Austin said the group had just told Mr. Christy not to talk with his mouth full, when they realized he could not speak. Austin knew just what to do, and out popped the potato nugget.

Austin had himself recently choked while in a restaurant with his parents, and his father performed the Heimlich maneuver on him.

"He just knew his principal was in trouble, and he knew how to help him," Mr. Klassen said.

Austin has been royally rewarded for his heroic efforts. Since the Oct. 6 incident, he's been interviewed on CNN, "Late Night With David Letterman," "The Today Show," and "Good Morning America." And the attention hasn't stopped there.

"People have been wanting to donate to a college scholarship fund for Austin," Mr. Klassen said. "His parents can't believe people would be that kind."

Closer look

An investigation by the Nueces County, Texas, district attorney could get more embarrassing for the Corpus Christi Independent School District.

Local newspapers have reported that a former assistant superintendent racked up $2,000 in charges on a school district credit card at a local men's club. A former superintendent also used a school credit card to buy two school board members tickets to a Tony Bennett concert.

The money was paid back, according to Mary Kelley, a spokeswoman for the Corpus Christi school, but the matter has prompted the school board to look more closely at the supervision of district expenditures.

--Michelle Galley & Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 19, Issue 9, Page 3

Published in Print: October 27, 1999, as Take Note

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