Stolen Milk From '58 Clears Conscience
Updated: Sunday, February 23 2014, 05:02 PM CST
An elementary school student admits to stealing a carton of milk... 56-years ago. The decades-old confession has been turned into a new lesson for current students.
When the principal shared this story with the kids, she told them an old German proverb-- "A good conscience makes a soft pillow." And, tonight, a former student can finally get a good night's rest.
"It's kind of hard living with something that you know that you did wrong," sympathizes Anderson Bell, a student at Clegern Elementary School in Edmond.
"Awhile back, I received a letter in the mail," says Principal Teri Cowden-Draper. As she read the letter to her students, a life lesson began to unfold. "I was in grade school at Clegern in 1958," the principal begins reading the letter. "In the afternoon, the teacher would pass around a tray with cartons of regular milk and cartons of chocolate milk," she reads. The letter-writer went on to say each student was allowed to take one carton of milk if they had the ten-cents to pay for it.
"He or she didn't have a dime to spare," says Bell. The letter-writer explains that he or she was the oldest of six children, so their family couldn't afford special treats like chocolate milk.
"Well, after weeks of that tray passing by me, I took a carton of milk," the letter-writer admits.
"He or she was saying sorry for something really bad that they've done," says Cooper Bortmess, a seven-year old student.
In addition to the apology was a little something to pay the school back. "Do you know what's inside of this envelope?...." asks the principal. "A one-hundred dollar bill!" she shows the students, who squeal.
"I'd like you to use the enclosed money for any child or children at your school who could use a treat, or their lunch paid, for anything you choose. Thank you, and God bless," the principal continues reading the letter, as she tears up. "One of the things I always tell the kids is that everybody makes mistakes. I mean, everybody makes them. I make them constantly.... but, the most important thing is to learn from your mistakes," says Principal Cowden-Draper.
"That's a really good thing. I mean, it's happened to me before," admits Bell. "I apologized and did the right thing," he explains.
Recently, Clegern students have been taught lessons on honesty, integrity and trustworthiness-- something they now get to see firsthand. "I'm glad they told the truth," says Bortmess.
"It's never too late to do the right thing," says Sadie Hollrah, a fifth grade student.
In the letter, Clegern students received two gifts-- the money, and a lesson they'll remember for a lifetime. The school doesn't have any children who need help to pay for their lunches, so it's up to the students. They'll decide what to do with the money by next week.