Friday marked a storybook ending for a local school and a long-lost library book and a former student is using the opportunity to give back even more. The book was missing from the Kaiser Elementary School library for 55 years and it finally found its way home.
It has been a long time since Brent Gooden was a Kaiser Kangaroo. He and his wife were moving out of their home recently when they made an unexpected discovery.
“We were going through the attic to clean it out,” says Gooden, who now runs a consultation and public relations firm, "and I came across this book." "Our New Friends" still had a Kaiser library check out card inside, last dated in the 1960s.
Gooden says, “I could hear my mother’s voice in my head saying, 'You’ve got to return this book.'”
He did return the book, along with a $1,000 "late fee" for good measure. $500 is going to the Foundation for OKCPS and the other $500 was used to purchase books and DVDs for the current students at Kaiser, bringing the story full circle.
Third grade student Daisie Hernandez says, “He’s trying to help us to make all our classmates get smarter and stuff and reading more books.”
The kids expressed their gratitude with stacks of thank you cards and administrators compiled memories, which included one of Gooden’s old class photos. Gooden says the foundation he built here at Kaiser helped him succeed in life, and the library was an important part of that.
“We would come to the library and we would check out a book a week,” he remembers.
Gooden was thrilled to see that teachers today are still emphasizing the importance of reading, and he hopes his donation helps that continue for decades to come.
“He’s gone on to have a successful career,” says Mary Melon, president and CEO of the Foundation for OKCPS. “He didn’t forget where he came from. He knows what a difference Oklahoma City Public Schools has made in his life.”