In the provincial school somewhere between Kaluga and Serpukhov comes a new student Lena Bessoltseva. She settles in the house of her grandfather, Nikolai Nikolayevich, a former military man who collects paintings for the purpose of arranging a picture gallery in his house. In town his grandfather is disliked for his closed way of life.
When Lena comes to her new 6th grade, her classmates even smile at her face, but her behavior makes it clear that they despise her. Students in the class are the most stereotypical: Mironova, nicknamed “The Iron Button” (a girl, in fact, a class leader, with iron convictions, always steadily moving towards her goal), “Shaggy” (a class strongman who believes that the most important thing in a person Shmakova (the first beauty in the class, who never does what is unprofitable for her), Popov (henpecked Shmakova looking into her mouth), Valka (a boy from a poor family, and therefore convinced that happiness is a lot of money), Marina (dreaming to escape from the care of her mother and go to her father in Mo CVU) Vassiliev (the quietest boy in the class and the only one who did not fawn before Lena) and Somov (boy from a wealthy family, enjoying great prestige in the classroom). The reason for the hostility to Lena lies in the fact that everyone considers her as eccentric as her grandfather, who in the town is called “Zaplatochnik”, since he is so keen on collecting paintings that he has been walking for a long time in the same coat that has gone from old age rags. Wanting at least somehow to win the respect of the guys, Lena tries to smile at all their taunts towards her and grandfather agrees with them in everything, but achieves the opposite effect. Class her behavior seems completely stupid, and therefore she is given the nickname “Scarecrow”, to which Lena tries not to take offense. And only Dima Somov, the boy, in whom almost all the girls of the class are in love, renders new support. Their friendship, growing into love, soon gives a break because of Dima’s next cowardly act.
The guys decided to skip the lesson and go to the movies. When everyone secretly goes out into the street, it is found that Dima left in the classroom a piggy bank, in which money was saved for a trip to Moscow (in fact, preparing for this trip, the guys worked so hard that they decided to skip the lesson). Lena is called to bring her, but stumbles, and Dima, calling her a slobber
– “Well, you really are some kind of idiot!”. rushes forward. Lena follows him and at the door of the class he hears how their class teacher, Margarita Ivanovna, tries to find out from Dima where they all escaped. At some point, she calls him a coward, and Dima, unable to stand it, gives a secret. Lena heard all this, hiding behind the door, but neither she nor Dima knew that at that moment Shmakova and Popov were hiding in the classroom under the desk.
As punishment for absenteeism, the guys cancel the trip to Moscow during the autumn holidays, to which everything was prepared for a very long time. The guys decide to find and punish the culprit, and Lena, seeing Dima’s indecision, takes the blame on herself, as a result of which she becomes an outcast. All students declare a boycott to her, mock her at every opportunity and even severely beaten several times.
Lena for a long time hopes that Dima is about to confess his fault, but he does not dare. In part, because he is afraid of losing credibility, in part – believes that classmates will decide that he defends Lena, and will not believe him. The truth is known by two more: Shmakov and Popov, who hid under the desk during a conversation between Dima and the teacher, but they prefer not to interfere, but to see how Somov will suffer.
Hope, faith and Lena’s love for Dima crumble when he joins his classmates to protect himself, and participates in the burning of a scarecrow symbolizing Lena.
Seeing that the matter had gone too far, Dima was being given out by Popov.
However, Lena is forced to leave the city, because she does not want to study in this school anymore.
Grandpa Lena leaves her collection of paintings as a gift to the city and leaves with her on the boat. They are escorted by the Suvorov military band, the game of which accompanies the events during the whole film.
At parting grandfather Lena gives the school a picture of her grandmother, which is very similar to his granddaughter. In the final scene, the children write over the left portrait on the school board: “Scarecrow, forgive us!”.