School arranges surprise reunion for military family
Special to Leader-Press
Staff Sgt. Duane Temple could not be sure exactly when he would make it back home from his overseas deployment to his family. But, he knew he wanted it to be memorable. Unable to plan very far ahead due to the uncertainty of his arrival, Temple headed straight to his daughter’s school when his plane landed.
Temple spoke with staff at his daughter’s school, Fairview-Miss Jewell Elementary, and the school put together a plan so he could surprise both his daughter and his wife who volunteers in the school almost every afternoon.
First grader Holly Temple was called down to the office where her father secretly waited. Her eyes widened with excitement upon seeing him as he greeted and surprised her with flowers and a long-awaited hug.
“Wow. I didn’t know you were coming. I can’t believe it. You are here,” the English-second-language student said.
Holly’s mother, Karla Valencia, was called by school staff with the ruse that Holly had fallen ill and needed to be picked up from school immediately. Holly and her father hid in the school principal’s office, eagerly awaiting her arrival.
As they waited in the office, staff posed as “lookouts” for Valencia and briefed Temple upon her arrival. Once in the building, Valencia and her 3-year old son, Iveen Temple, were directed to the nurse’s office in the neighboring room. Valencia gasped for breath, both stunned and surprised, as her husband, who she was not expecting for another few days, entered the room.
“Oh, my gosh. I thought you were going to call me first. I was wondering why you hadn’t called. I was not expecting you yet,” Valencia said as tears welled up in her eyes.
The Fairview/Miss Jewell staff was also experiencing tears of joy as they witnessed the reunion. Parent liaison Karen Folger documented the event with photos.
“We knew the task at hand may be a little delicate in trying to get mom here with her working, taking care of two kids at two different campuses, and more. But, we were up for the challenge,” Folger said. “We are thankful to Sergeant Temple for allowing us to share this moment with his family and are grateful for his service and sacrifice to our country.”