Ridgefield Military Family United, Dad Surprises 4 Year Old at Saint Mary School

Jolanie embracing her father

After nearly a year serving our country, Ridgefield dad surprises his 4-year-old daughter at St. Mary School today 

There was not a dry eye in the Nancy Bossidy Gym at Saint Mary School today when students and school staff watched as four-year-old Jolanie Ochoa spotted her father entering the building and ran full speed ahead into his arms. She prayed daily for his safe return and today, her prayers were answered.

It is not unusual for our preschool friends to bring a special toy from home, particularly at the start of the school year.  "I noticed right away that Jolanie had a very special doll," said PK-4 teacher Nancy Szilagyi.  "Her mom explained that dad had recently deployed.  They were new to town, new to the school, and the doll had dad's face on it and was a great comfort to Jolanie."

Throughout the school year, Mrs. Szilagyi's class prayed for Staff Sgt. Ochoa's safe return.  They sent cards and candy to his entire platoon and enjoyed receiving notes and video messages from overseas.

Principal Anna O'Rourke was honored and touched when the family asked if Saint Mary School would like to be a part of a surprise homecoming.  "I was so honored to be a part of something so special.  I cannot speak highly enough about the love that went into planning the event from our faculty and students.  Every grade participated, from the three-year-olds presenting the family with paper poppies to the rest of the students singing patriotic songs, it was a day I will never forget."

SSG Ochoa has been in the military for 14 years, and this was his fourth deployment.  He spent the last 10 months in Africa with the 2/133 Infantry of the NJ National Guard.  He previously served one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.  He and his wife Stephanie live in Ridgefield with their three children.

To schedule a tour of Saint Mary School, call 203-438-7288. To learn more about the admission process, click here.

Saint Mary School is located at 183 High Ridge Ave in the heart of Ridgefield.