Sometimes being honest can lead to a lot of pedaling.
Jonathan McLaughlin, a junior at Oak Harbor High School, discovered that after trying to return a woman’s purse last month.
It meant biking all over North Whidbey to locate her.
McLaughlin’s remarkable — and strenuous — act of honesty earned him the first-ever Caught in the Act Award from the Oak Harbor Youth Commission. He was honored during recent meetings of the Oak Harbor School Board and Oak Harbor City Council.
OHHS Principal Dwight Lundstrom praised McLaughlin’s good deed during the council meeting Tuesday night.
McLaughlin found a purse containing $800 and located a pay stub inside belonging to Jessica Muzzall. He later learned Muzzall had her paycheck and tip money from a restaurant job in the purse, which she dropped in a parking lot.
McLaughlin rode his bike from Oak Harbor to the 3 Sisters Farm, owned by the Muzzall family, hoping to find Jessica.
Nobody was home
McLaughlin rode his bicycle back to the Oak Harbor Police Department. It was a Sunday, however, and again, nobody was home.
The young man rode his bicycle back to the farm and, this time, Ron Muzzall answered the door. McLaughlin handed the purse to him and Muzzall was so appreciative he gave McLaughlin a ride home.
Muzzall also offered McLaughlin a reward, but the young man simply asked him to “pay it forward.”
Lundstrom said Shelly Muzzall, whom he knows well, came to his office soon afterward and told him the story.
He wanted to do something to recognize McLaughlin and remembered the Oak Harbor Youth Commission had started the Caught in the Act Award.
“Jonathan is certainly a shining example of what is good about our community, an example of and for our youth, and an outstanding individual,” Lundstrom said.
Lundstrom explained that McLaughlin is active in the school’s Career and Technical Education program and is very polite and well thought of by his teachers.
Lundstrom also noted that McLaughlin is looking for a summer job.
“I tell you what, this would be a kid I’d be looking for,” he said.
Oak Harbor Councilwoman Tara Hizon, a member of the Youth Commission, explained the rationale behind the award.
“Youth and teenagers in particular are constantly being told what they are doing wrong,” she said, “And so we thought that when we see someone doing something right that they should get ‘caught in the act’ for that as well.”
McLaughlin spoke briefly before the meeting was recessed so that city officials could get their photos taken with him.
“I’m very glad to be part of the honest people in society and I really have my dad to thank for that,” he said.