The students of a Nebraska high school have earned the good wishes of a local benefactor—in the form of $25,000—for their polite behavior during a field trip.
It is the small percentage of students who get into trouble that make the headlines, said Mike Marymee, the principal of Nebraska’s Hastings High School, whereas students “who do things right and behave don’t get any attention.”
However, the 25 students in Elaine Lamski’s French class who recently traveled to Omaha to see a play and sample the cuisine at the French Café in the city’s Old Market area did get attention from a restaurant patron.
In fact, he was so impressed that he stopped to talk with Ms. Lamski and made note of the fact that “the students acted like grown-ups,” Ms. Lamski said in an interview.
As the patron expressed his delight with the students’ etiquette and politeness, he discovered that they were footing the bill themselves for the $7.50 theater tickets and the formal dining experience.
That’s when the patron told Ms. Lamski that he wanted to make a donation to the school to help with the cost of field trips. And thus the restaurant patron became the anonymous school benefactor.
“I don’t think he gave money just for their good behavior. He also agreed with the philosophy of exposing kids to experiences outside of the classroom,” said Ms. Lamski, who says the field trip is an annual event for her French class so they can apply their reading and speaking skills in a real-world situation.
Mr. Marymee told the Hastings board of education about the gift last week.
Although the school hasn’t yet dipped into the $25,000 donation, officials expect to use the money to defray the cost of field trips over the next five years.
“I think the students are as surprised and astonished as we are,” Ms. Lamski said. “You don’t expect to get something for behaving like you’re supposed to.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 2000 edition of Education Week