Kids earn the right to ride Montgomery’s train | Rudi and Connor Alcott

Eugene Montgomery helps Olympic View Elementary students board an Amtrak train to Portland on May 19.

If there is a better non-profit for kids in the Federal Way area, I am not sure what it is.

Five times a school year, Eugene Montgomery, his wife, Myla, and a number of volunteer teachers take 28 kids on a train ride.

Make no mistake. The kids earned the right to be on this train. They are required to read a book a month, stay out of trouble in school, make good grades and prove this to the teachers and administrators of their individual schools that they earned it. This is a tough ticket to earn. I could tell you all about this, but I thought it would be more important to hear from one of the riders.

I used this opportunity to take along my oldest son, Connor. Middle school can be tough at times. Teenagers think that the world stops at their doorstep. He quite possibly went on that train ready to teach those kids a lesson — and he is the one that learned a lesson.

We could all learn from kids. To see the world through their eyes, to hear the world through their ears and to experience the innocence of a one-day train ride that turns into a life experience. These are his words:

We just left the Tacoma train station heading to Portland, Oregon. I am seeing all kind of things like beautiful trees, the sweet smell of food, and laughing and joy of all of my new friends that I just met from Olympic View Elementary. I am sitting here with 28. Here I am on my first train ride ever! New kids and I can’t remember one of their names! Now I am watching my dad on the computer. Then I look back through the aisle and see feet hanging off the seats. All of the sudden the train comes to a grinding halt because the track is broken. I am talking to my friend Eugene Montgomery. He was the one that put the whole thing together. He is the leader of KOSS (Keeping Our Schools Safe).

As I said, this is my first time on a train and I get to eat on it. Yes! Did you know that trains have half dollars that they give as change in the dining car? Well I did not, and I took one from my dad.

In Portland, there was going to be a picnic in the park, but the rain ruined it. All 28 kids just ate in Union Station, and that was fun. We are on the way back to Tacoma and everyone wanted to play with my PSP. There is just one problem. There are 28 of them and one PSP. Instead, we played 5 card poker, UNO, and war with cards. When I got bored on the train with my new friend Axar, we were playing war and he bet three pieces of candy and I won. Then around 3 p.m. we had to pack up as we arrived in Tacoma. All 28 kids said ‘bye’ at once.

In the end, the whole KOSS foundation put the train ride together and this has really changed me as a person. I should not take things for granted in life and be thankful for what I have. And that sometimes you have to stop and think the whole world does not revolve around you.

This was by Connor, Cedar River Middle School, Maple Valley, WA

Save the program

Parents, encourage your kids to be a part of this. This program is open to all elementary school students in public, private or home-schooling. It requires funding of $4,000 per year, and as community members of the Federal Way area we should help Eugene and Myla Montgomery raise this capital. Contact: The Montgomery KOSS Award, Eugene Montgomery, (253) 815-8633 for additional details.

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