Major Tamiko Wright held her breath standing behind a curtain on the stage at Sonntag Elementary this week as she waited for her cue to walk across the stage.
On the other side of the curtain seated amongst all of the fourth graders was her daughter Lorrie who had not seen her in about a year. Little did she know her mom was returning from her tour of duty three months early and could hardly wait to wrap her arms around her fourth grader.
Before Major Wright left for her tour in the fall of 2018, she reached out to her daughter’s third grade teachers at Sonntag Elementary for support.
While she emphasized that she did not want her daughter to have special treatment, she also knew that she could depend on Sonntag to help provide the extra support her daughter needed in her absence.
“At Sonntag, we are family and we have established a culture where all students are respectful, responsible and safe,” said Shannon Acosta, Sonntag principal. “We knew immediately that we would do everything we could to support Major Wright and her daughter Lorrie in her absence.”
It was also a learning opportunity for all of the students in Lorrie’s grade. Major Wright addressed the entire third grade before leaving to help students understand what it means to be in the military.
Over the course of the 2018-19 school year, Major Wright would send videos to the students and give them updates discussing everything from world geography to animals she had encountered. The students also sent her videos about the happenings around campus.
The campus also wanted to support Major Wright and her unit from a distance. In February, they sent valentines to Major Wright’s unit and in the spring, they also held a care kit supply drive. Over the summer, Lorrie’s teachers Jordan Carlisle and Lindsay Sligar checked in on Lorrie and her family. Daily, neighbors made sure Lorrie had a friend available to walk to school with her.
At Sonntag, everyone is family and nobody got much sleep the evening before the big surprise.
Lorrie was surrounded by her support system of previous teachers, current teachers, the counselor and principals as the fourth grade sat to watch Major Wright’s final video to the class.
Major Wright stood behind the curtain nervous and excited.
“I’m just so excited to see my girls,” Major Wright said. Lorrie has a sister named Amari who attends Heritage High School.
As Lorrie stood in front of the class to prepare to record a video to send to her mom, her classmates encouraged her to turn around where Major Wright was waiting to give her a warm embrace.
There was not a dry eye in the cafeteria when Lorrie finally had the opportunity to hug her mom.
Major Wright thanked the fourth grade students for being great friends to Lorrie and expressed thanks to the staff for the support of her family.
In celebration, the fourth grade students performed a memorable chant called a roll call. It was clear that the students and staff embrace their motto, Sonntag STRONG.