Father returns from Iraq, surprises his daughters at school –
By Patricia Beech –
“They know I’m back in America, but they don’t know I’m in Ohio,” Lt. Colonel Billy Shaw says as he wiggles into a Green Devil mascot costume,“This should be so much fun.”
He’s talking about his daughters, Angelina and Natalie, who were waiting for an all-school assembly to begin in the North Adams Elementary gymnasium on Friday, Oct. 28. They hadn’t seen their Dad since he left for Iraq six months ago. They have no idea he is in the school.
“We planned to have him dress up as the mascot and take him to his daughter’s third grade classroom, but the idea snow-balled into an all-school assembly,” said NAES Principal Deirdre Mills. “We decided to hold a secret Spirit contest and, of course, Natalie’s third grade class would win so we could get her onto the gym floor with the mascot.”
Mills and her fellow teachers used a pretext to bring Angelina Shaw from the high school to the elementary. She thought she was there to help with the assembly.
“Just hold the mascot’s arm,” Mills told the NAHS freshman, “He can’t see where he’s going in that costume.”
It went off without a hitch. Moments before the 16-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force was unmasked, his oldest daughter led him to the center of the gym.
The sisters, standing on either side of him, cheered along with the student body as the Green Devil pulled off his mask. Angelina did a double take and cried out in surprise the second before her dad encircled her and Natalie in his arms.
They huddled there in the center of the gym laughing and crying and sharing a long-awaited hug while the assembly cheered on.
“I think this is wonderful,” said ACOVSD Superintendent Richard Seas, “I certainly appreciate his service to our country, and for him to come back and participate in this activity, I think it’s about more than just surprising his children, he reminds all of us of the freedoms we enjoy because people like him are out there protecting them.”