PARCC testing has been underway in schools all over and lamentations have been loud and clear from the kids taking the tests, to those charged with administering the tests and maintaining the IT capabilities in the process. On March 6, a special assembly was held in the North Central Junior High School gymnasium in order for Principal Tim Rettig to congratulate the kids on a job well done through the tough time.
At least that is what the kids were led to believe.
As Mr. Rettig spoke to the kids, he announced that there was going to be a drawing for special prizes to be given as tokens of congratulations. Four names were drawn, including those of sisters. Jeorjia Lacey and Jayla Stannard. Little did these sisters know that they were being set up for what became a profoundly emotional experience…not just for them, but for practically everyone in the gymnasium.
Mr. Rettig said that he was prepared to present the awards at that time, but there was someone waiting out in the hall that wanted to do the presentation. With that, the west door of the gym opened, and in stepped Jeorjia and Jayla’s father, Sergeant Robert Lacey, along with their mother, Jessica Lacey. Unbeknownst to the girls, Sergeant Lacey had just returned from a tour of duty in Kuwait and Afghanistan that lasted over a year. A quiet, “Hi, Dad,” was heard, almost immediately followed by the girls tearfully rushing into the arms of their father.
Unaware that they were unknowing accomplices to the surprise, the other two students called down indeed received the prizes that were promised. The greatest prize of all though, belonged to Jeorjia and Jayla. There have been viral video clips of service men and women returning to surprise family members. Everybody has seen at least one…including Jeorjia and Jayla.
On this day however, in a small gymnasium, in a small school in a small town, the biggest possible event in the life of a child with a parent in the military came to pass, just like in the videos.
Dad’s home, and once again all is right in the world.
May it be so for the rest of the kids who are patiently awaiting as Jeorjia and Jayla did.
Timothy Kays may be reached at