San Juan Ridge school vandal makes good 20 years later |

San Juan Ridge school vandal makes good 20 years later

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer

A man responsible for vandalizing school property on the San Juan Ridge nearly 20 years ago has taken action to make amends.

Grizzly Hill Elementary School Principal James Berardi found a letter explaining a 1996 break-in during which money and confiscated items were taken from the principal's office with an enclosed $300 to cover expenses.

The letter reads: "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 principal's desk and in doing this, broke the latches and/or frames of a few windows. I am not exactly sure how much the damages 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."

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The man, who wants to remain unidentified, left his name and contact information with the school.

Berardi said he was surprised about the letter because Grizzly Hill had been broken into numerous times in the three years he had been there, adding that it was nice to see someone try to fix such a situation.

"I thought, 'Wow, there's some good people out there,'" Berardi said. "When people steal things from the school, it's coming directly out of the kids' (funds). I was surprised to get something to say, 'Hey, I took something years ago and I would like to be able to give back.' It was a very humble experience that there's not just negative people, there's positive people to make it better."

The money will go back to the students in the form of field trips or fun activities, Berardi said, adding how difficult it must have been for the man to admit wrongdoing.

"I just think it makes your heart feel good that there's good people out there and to realize people make mistakes," Berardi said. "It's OK to make mistakes as long as you try to fix them."

Regarding the letter and money, the man said it was "just something I needed to take care of."

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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