Excitement always runs high for students and staff on the last day of school.

And Lincoln Elementary School was no exception Tuesday morning when they gathered in the gym.

“Boys and girls I don’t know if today can get any better, but we’re going to try,” said Lincoln Principal Elaine Rohleder.

To make that happen, Rohleder introduced Elijah Collard, president of Reading for Education, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The school participated in a Reading for Education fundraising program earlier this year that includes a random drawing. Each student participant could enter, Collard said.

“If the student wins, the classroom teacher wins, and the school wins. So I’m here to announce that Lincoln Elementary in Hays Kansas, has won a $100,000 playground.”

There were 1.7 million homerooms in 8,557 schools entered in the drawing.

The winning classroom teacher was Monica Dreiling, who won $5,000 to spend on classroom materials.

“That means one of you out of my class won,” Dreiling said.

There were 8,459,928 (student) entries, and Timothy Huls won,” Collard said.

The Huls family prize was $10,000.

“This sure is a lot of fun. Congratulations, Timothy,” Collard said as Timothy made his way to the front of the gym.

Lori Huls, Timothy’s mom, was as surprised as anyone.

“All I knew is he got an award,” she said of the invitation to come to the school assembly. “He’s never ever won anything, and for this to happen to him. I started bawling. I’m so proud of him.”

Joey Huls, Timothy’s dad, planned to attend, but got stuck and arrived after the announcement.

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

“As great as the $100,000 (playground) is, I would say the $10,000 thing is really really special,” Collard said.

The Reading for Education program was created to help students raise money. Information is sent home to parents who turn it in the next day.

Postcards are sent to the family and friends the students have listed, and they can order magazines and a few household items directly if they wish. The school and students are credited with the sale.

“That way the kids aren’t handling money or product,” Collard said.

The drawing is random, done by a third party who supplies a winning number that is then matched to a student.

“We don’t know the teacher until we call school. It’s a great program, and a lot of fun,” 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.”

“Playgrounds are a wonderful opportunity to build healthy bodies, healthy minds and to provide opportunities to meet your friends and to make new friends,” said Rodney Born, representative of Cunningham Recreation, which sells playground equipment.

Playgrounds provide an opportunity to promote family values “enriching childhood through play,” he said.

Rohleder said she would work with the company on the new playground “adding to what we have, and we’re going to have the best playground in town. I always say Lincoln Elementary is the best kept secret in town, well I think that’s about to end.”