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Heartwarming Gesture Toward Elementary School Shows It's Never Too Late to Make Amends

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"I’ve enclosed this money in restitution of what I’ve done..."

After break-ins at Grizzly Hill Elementary, stolen items never find their way back to the tiny school outside Nevada City, Calif.

“We’re out in the country," Principal James Berardi told KMAX-TV in Sacramento, "and things disappear out here sometimes because there’s not a lot of people here."

Image source: KMAX

So imagine Berardi's surprise when he found a blue envelope stuffed into the school's office door after the weekend containing $300 cash and a note. A student had caused some minor damage during a break-in and stole money slated for an end-of-the-year field trip and wanted to make amends.

Image source: KMAX

Most surprising of all? The incident happened 17 years ago.

Here's how his apology note reads:

"In 1996 I broke into the school just before the end of the school year. I stole some money of a few classrooms (they had been saving it for a “end of year trip or party”), some confiscated items from the principals desk, and in doing this broke the latches and/or frames off a few windows. I am not exactly sure how much the damage cost to repair or how much money I stole. My best guess is about $300. I’ve enclosed this money in restitution of what I’ve done in an attempt to make this matter right, amends for my wrong.

"If there is anyone still working at the school who remembers this event and feels $300 does not cover the theft for the damage please contact me.

The man, who was 12 at the time of the theft, left his phone number at the end of the letter. The principal did contact the man and told him the amount was fine, KMAX reported, adding that the money will go to students' needs.

“I hope that it gives him what he wanted, was seeking,” Berardi said, adding that he was pleased with the former student's actions. “I don’t know if that was to lift a burden off himself, or a guilt.”

Willow DeFranco said the man's gesture to make amends has become a valuable teaching moment for her students. "It touched my heart," she told KMAX.

Here's a report from KMAX:

Featured image via KMAX.

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