“In 1996 I Broke into the School Just Before the End of the School Year”




 In October 2013, James Berardi, the principal of Grizzly Hill Elementary School in Nevada City, California, received this note:

“Dear Grizzly Hill School,

“In 1996 I broke into the school just before the end of the school year. I stole some money out of a few classrooms (they had been saving it for a ‘end of the year trip or party’), some confiscated items from the pricipals desk, and in doing this broke the latches and/or frames of 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 have enclosed this money in restitution of what I have 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 or the damage please contact me.

“My deepest apologies for what I have done and my commitment to never do this again.”

The envelope also contained $300 in $1 bills.

Principal Berardi said, “I hope that it gives him what he wanted, was seeking. I don’t know if that was to lift a burden off himself, or a guilt.”

Willow DeFranco, a teacher at Grizzly Hill Elementary School, said, “They did something wrong, and it was probably hurting their heart probably so bad and was making them feel so poor about what choices they made and they tried to make it right.”

The writer of the letter also left a phone number. Principal Berardi called him and told him that $300 was enough to cover what he had stolen and damaged.

For Further Information: Ian Schwartz, “17 Years Later, Man Repays Nevada City School $300 He Stole As A Student.” CBS (Sacrament, California). 23 October 2013


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