The principal of Lincoln Elementary School, Elaine Rohleder, was hoping to get new playground equipment for the kids.

Given the high cost of the items and relatively modest resources available, Rohleder had been looking in the less expensive sections of the equipment catalog. After Tuesday’s surprise announcement at the school, she can set her sights on something a little bigger.

With the president of Reading for Education, Elijah Collard, on hand during an all-school assembly, Rohleder was presented with a $100,000 check with which the playground can be outfitted. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., company that Lincoln partners with for fund-raising projects had selected the Hays elementary school as this year’s recipient.

We admit a little parochial bias, but we can’t think of a more deserving school to have been selected.

Rohleder said she would work with Olathe-based Cunningham Recreation on the new playground, “adding to what we have, and we’re going to have the best playground in town.”

In addition to the $100,000 playground check, Reading for Education’s Collard had two other monetary awards. The school actually won because one of its students had been randomly chosen as the winner of a $10,000 prize.

The odds of Lincoln fifth-grader Timothy Huls winning were astronomical. Some 8.5 million entries had been submitted from 1.7 million homerooms in 8,557 schools across the nation.

Luck was on Timothy’s side.

“The money will go to good use,” said his mother, Lori Huls. “I can’t believe it. He’s needed things for school. It’ll help so much for school.”

Timothy’s teacher, Monica Dreiling, also received a share of the Reading for Education bounty announced on the last day of school. The fifth-grade instructor gets to figure out how a $5,000 check will benefit her classroom.

“If the student wins, the classroom teacher wins, and the school wins,” Collard said.

“It’s such a great way to end the school year, and to see the school, the teacher and especially Timothy, get the check,” said USD 489 Superintendent Dean Katt. “It’s just awesome that they participate in those things not really knowing if they have a chance.”

That participation paid off handsomely for the district’s school with the smallest enrollment. As Lincoln Elementary has never let that size get in the way of big accomplishments, we look forward to seeing its super playground later this summer or in the early fall.


Editorial by Patrick Lowry