Jackson Academy parent, Lieutenant Justin Schade, wanted to surprise his family. He succeeded, and he received a nice surprise in return.
The Army lieutenant with the 1st-185th Aviation Unit had been granted leave to return a few days early from Kosovo. He surprised his wife by showing up at home one night while the children were asleep. Melanie Schade quickly joined in on the surprise for their children and helped her husband stay hidden until the children were dropped off at school the next morning. The original plan was to check the children, Molly, second grade, and Amelia, K-3, out early and surprise them at home.
But when JA teacher Amanda Cross found out about the early check out, she and fellow faculty members suggested another, and larger, plan. They arranged a gathering of the entire Preschool and second grade in the Preschool Gym to officially welcome Lieutenant Justin Schade home.
As music teacher Holly Collums announced a special guest, both girls showed shock and surprise as their dad entered. After lengthy hugs and tears, and a few moments to reconnect, the Schade family was serenaded by 250 children and adults singing “God Bless America” in Lieutenant Schade’s honor.
Lieutenant Schade had been gone since May 11, with one visit home at Christmas. This was his first deployment, although not his first extended trip away from family. Previous training had required travel and separation from the family when Molly was 4 years old (photo right).
The Schades planned a fun afternoon of lunch and play, which Amelia quickly seconded. Molly, though, had other ideas. She wanted to come back after lunch for STEM class.