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Students Surprise Their Teacher with a Brand New Car

August 28, 2022 | by Sarah Pachter

And readers played a major role in making it happen.

They did it! With the help of readers, the YULA boys were able to surprise their teacher with a brand new car on the second day of school.

The real name of the teacher is Mr. Julio Castro, and he was overwhelmed with joy when the boys presented him with the car.

YULA High School called a school-wide assembly in the gym. The entire school prepared to surprise Mr. Castro, and the Head of School, Rabbi Arye Sufrin, was giving everyone the heads up.

Julio Castro on his way to a big surprise (Photo credit: Moshe Darvish)

Rabbi Sufrin explained how the surprise would work and what he needed from the boys to pull it off. They called it a kickstart to Teacher Appreciation Week, and they began to raffle off special gifts to random teachers. Mr. Castro was casually led into the gym, while various teachers were awarded small prizes, like gift cards. The final name was pulled from the box, and Mr. Castro was called to the center of the gym. His reward was simply “a movie.”

“Please sit, Mr. Castro, and watch this film in your honor.”

The video featured a montage of students thanking Mr. Castro for all of his hard work. At the end of the presentation, Mr. Castro remarked how happy and honored he felt to be part of the YULA family. He clearly showed his love for the students when he said, “This isn’t a job, this is my fun.”

At that point the principal instructed the boys to head back to class. Unbeknownst to Mr. Castro, the boys were actually lining up in a human tunnel. Mr. Castro was led outdoors, through the human tunnel, to the entrance of the school. Confetti was thrown, and hundreds of kids gathered around.

Photo credit: Moshe Darvish

Folks from Dude Be Nice were there filming the event, as were ABC News and the LA Times. Dude. Be Nice.’s Brent Camalich said, “We are so happy to have filmed this celebration so your family could see how much the students of this school appreciate you. But wouldn't it be better if they were here?”

“Yes, but they are in school,” Mr. Castro explained.

“Well, actually, we made some calls, and they are here.”

Julio turned around, and was blown away to see that his family had come to witness this Teacher Appreciation Day.

At that point, the school’s security guard hushed the crowd and angrily shouted, “Everyone! Whose vehicle is this? It is parked illegally.”

Josh Gerendash, a senior, responded, “Oh, it’s mine. I’ll move it, but I just have the gift for Mr. Castro inside.”

A piñata was pulled out of the car, and Mr. Castro and his family broke it open. A wrapped gift fell out, and Josh gave it to Mr. Castro.

“Here, open this,” he said.

Hundreds of boys were now encircled around Mr. Castro as he carefully opened up the gift. Inside the box was a key.

Mr. Castro looked up and asked, “A key?”

Julio Castro with his family next to their new car (Photo credit: Moshe Darvish)

The crowd parted to show the car behind them. Josh said, “Actually Mr. Castro, this car is yours.”

The boys broke out in a joyous song and dance, and Mr. Castro was shocked and overwhelmed. He wiped tears from his eyes. Everyone watching was visibly moved by the experience.

As a parent of a YULA student, this was one of the proudest moments of my life. For young boys to be able to see past themselves and have such empathy for the needs of others is exceptional. The Jewish community, led by these students, came together and answered the call to help another human. Thanks to , people from Mexico, Israel, New York and Canada had learned of this man and how dedicated he was to his students. No one even knew the name of the teacher, but people wanted to be a part of something great, and that is the power of giving.

The original article ended up raising a huge sum of money. The Change Reaction, a special organization, was willing to match up to $10,000 to help the students reach their goal.

Photo credit: Moshe Darvish

A handful of boys spent the summer organizing different fundraising events, including a three-on-three basketball tournament and a community movie night. Younger children made lemonade stands to help the cause. When the final numbers were counted, all together they were just shy of the money needed to purchase a car. The local car dealership, Galpin, learned how hard these boys had worked together, and generously gave another $5,000 to help them reach their goal. The boys bought the car, and with the extra help were even able to provide insurance and gas for a year.

A huge thanks goes to the community and readers of who donated the majority of the money. Because of your compassion, you changed a dedicated teacher’s life forever. This made such a beautiful kiddush Hashem, sanctification of God’s name, and you can see it for yourself in the video below.


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