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Westport students get surprise visit during assembly

WESTPORT - They were expecting someone from the Air Force to come around the corner, just not the person that appeared.

For Kaleigh, DJ and Jayden Rodriguez, the assembly at Westport Central School Friday, Dec. 10 was to practice for the annual hallway caroling and to announce that the cards that the students had made for their father, Air Force Technical Sgt. Steve Rodriguez, were on their way to South Korea.

However, the trio of students were informed that the cards had not made it into the mail on time, and that a special representative from the Air Force was coming to deliver them personally.

That representative turned out to be Technical Sgt. Steve Rodriguez - the children's father.

"I was surprised," said Jayden, a third-grader.

"I didn't expect my dad to come around the corner," said Kaleigh, a sixth-grader. "It took a second for it to sink in that it was him."

"It was awesome," said DJ, a fifth-grader. "Now he will be home to go to my basketball games and help coach me."

Sgt. Rodriguez said that when he learned he would be coming back to his family, who had moved to Westport just a couple of weeks before he was deployed to South Korea about five months previous, he thought he would try something that he had seen done on YouTube.

"I saw a collection of homecomings like this on YouTube," Rodriguez said. "I told my wife, Melissa, about this idea and she went to the principal with it and they just ran with it."

Michelle Friedman, principal at Westport Central School, said they were excited when Melissa approached them.

"If we have a chance that we can work it out, I told them that we would absolutely go for it," said Friedman, who gave the credit for the event to fifth-grade teacher Kathy Bedore.

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