Surprise! Retiring Boynton teacher gives senior his Honda as grad gift


This year’s senior assembly at Boynton Beach Community High was no different than previous years’ until a retiring teacher announced he was giving his car to a graduating senior.

“I’m sure it’s going to make a pretty good difference in his life,” Michael Cavanaugh, who teaches American government and economics, said this week after the announcement while sitting in his classroom.

Cavanaugh, 62, is giving his 2007 Honda Civic to Jacquez Champion, 19.

BOYNTON READERS: Sign up for the weekly Boynton Beach newsletter here

After the Friday assembly Cavanaugh took Champion to his car in the parking lot to introduce him to his new ride. Cavanaugh is still driving the car while the school year wraps up. He has a plan for the day he’ll turn the keys over: Cavanaugh will pick up Champion on June 1, they’ll drive to the clerk’s office to sign the title and then Cavanaugh will drive Champion home and say goodbye to his Honda. Cavanaugh’s wife will pick him up.

Cavanaugh had this surprise in the works for years. He knew he wanted to do something special when he retired but didn’t know with which student. By October, Cavanaugh had his mind set on Champion, who plans to study at Palm Beach State College.

“He is everything that teachers say epitomizes a good student: hard working, rarely missed school, kind,” Cavanaugh said. “There was just something about him. I just saw this kid. He did everything right. By October, he was the guy.”

Boynton High theater students shining despite program finances

Through the year Champion was saving money to buy a car. When he reached about $6,000, Cavanaugh told him to get to $10,000.

“I didn’t want him to buy it,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh is recommending Champion open an IRA with that money.

“So when he’s my age hopefully he’s sitting on a nice nest egg for himself,” Cavanaugh said.

Boynton police take John I. Leonard special-needs students to prom

As for Cavanaugh, he plans to stay active in his retirement, travel with his wife, take care of their grandchildren and hopes to find work in helping seniors who don’t have loved ones around.

Cavanaugh taught at Boynton High for 13 years and spent 35 years teaching in Palm Beach County.

Since news of Cavanaugh’s surprise has spread, he said the number of past students who have reached out to him is “amazing.”

The lesson in all this?

“There’s so many kids like him that are great kids. If somebody gives them a chance,” Cavanaugh said. “I just think it’d be nice if other people helped kids out.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: Officers from two city police departments at Riviera Beach home 
NEW: Officers from two city police departments at Riviera Beach home 

Police officers from two agencies have closed off parts of a Riviera Beach neighborhood Thursday evening.  Police cars for Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach officers put up police tape near a home on west 14th Street and Avenue R, just south of Blue Heron Boulevard and east of North Congress Avenue.  West Palm Beach police said...
Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers
Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets. >> Read more trending news  Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Two blocks around the corner...
A year later: What’s going on with Jupiter’s proposed no-wake zone?
A year later: What’s going on with Jupiter’s proposed no-wake zone?

A female leatherback turtle had to be euthanized on May 8 after suffering five propeller cuts, each 24 inches long, that became infected with meningitis. One slice was so deep that it severed the turtle’s spinal cord causing her to become paralyzed, according to the preliminary necropsy. The turtle, that was “loaded with eggs,” was...
Honda Classic charity gets a new president
Honda Classic charity gets a new president

John Domenico has been tapped as president of the Children’s Healthcare Charity, the charitable arm of the Honda Classic.  Domenico has served on the board for eight years and succeeds Joe Steranka, who finished his four-year term. Domenico is a managing director and private client advisor for U.S. Trust, a private bank that serves high...
Veterans ceremony: We’ll always honor their memory, ‘it’s just in a different realm’
Veterans ceremony: We’ll always honor their memory, ‘it’s just in a different realm’

Through teary eyes and cracked voices, family members of fallen veterans walked to the front of the room, placed a white flower in a vase and spoke the name of their loved one. They gathered Thursday at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center for the Last Roll Call Ceremony of Remembrance, to honor and celebrate veterans who have died over the last year...
More Stories