The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Trip to principal’s office had a happy ending
By RUSTY DENNEN
There are lots of surprises in high school, but few like the one Gaille Powell got on Friday afternoon.
The 15-year-old Riverbend High School sophomore was called up to Principal Troy Wright’s office during her afternoon gym class.
When she arrived, her father, Ray Powell, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, was waiting.
Gaille didn’t expect her dad, who was deployed to Afghanistan for six months, to come home until later this month.
Upon seeing him, still dressed in his fatigues and boots, she yelled, “Daddy!” and jumped into his arms. “What are you doing here?”
Her mother, Richelyn, and Wright, both standing nearby and out of sight, were in on the surprise.
“I heard you like gym class so much you didn’t want to leave. Is that right?” Ray Powell said, holding his daughter close.
Powell said that, at first, he wanted to surprise his wife.
“But that was non-negotiable. I was not to surprise her. I probably couldn’t have done it anyway,” he said smiling.
“So, at least, I wanted to surprise Gaille.” Some “tactical deception,” was required “to convince Gaille that her mother went to a school conference last night.”
Richelyn, who used to teach at Riverbend, and now teaches at Salem Elementary School, had picked up her husband at Baltimore/Washington International Airport Thursday night after his long trip back from Afghanistan. Powell, 45, has been on two other deployments—to Iraq in 2004, and to various spots in the Middle East in 2006 and 2007.
Richelyn asked Gaille what she thought when she got a call to come to the principal’s office.
“That I didn’t pay something?”
Gaille said some of her classmates knew her dad was overseas with the military.
“I told whoever asked, whenever the subject came up and there was a reason to tell them.”
After the reunion, the family lingered for a few minutes to talk about the deployment and its impact on the family.
Gaille had both parents laughing with this observation: “With Dad gone, he’s basically like the fun parent. So, mom had to do her best to be both educational and the fun parent.”
Richelyn then noted: “What did we do? I took you to IHOP all the time and to your favorite restaurant.”
On a more serious note, Richelyn added she tackled chores such as driving 18-year-old son Brad to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he’s a freshman. Earlier, mom and son made the trip to check out Virginia Tech.
During Ray’s absence, Richelyn said, “I learned something—I can do things without him.”
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431