A homecoming pep rally at South High School on Friday turned into a surprise sendoff for David Young, a teacher and Kansas Army National Guardsman who soon will deploy to the Middle East.
“We thank you, and we love you,” said Ashok Surender, assistant principal at South. “Godspeed.”
Young, who teaches carpentry and woodworking at South High, is preparing to deploy for a year. He said he’s scheduled to begin the deployment in Kuwait around Feb. 16.
Members of Young’s 161st Field Artillery Regiment, as well as his wife, Jennifer, and two grown children, surprised the teacher during the pep assembly, walking onto the gymnasium floor as the band played “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”
Surender, the assistant principal, thanked him for his service and presented him with a Wichita flag emblazoned with “South High School.”
“He had no idea this was happening,” said Jennifer Young, David’s wife. Their daughter, Amanda, flew in from Cleveland for the occasion.
“Do you know how hard that is to keep a secret?” she said.
Command Sgt. Major Rick Haney, who heads recruitment and retention for the Kansas Army National Guard, attended the event and said shows of support are important for soldiers, their families and the community.
“It’s really great for our youth to see this and to see one of their teachers and what they do for their state and their country,” Haney said.
“Deployments are never easy, but to see this awesome school and how they support him, I know it means a lot for him and for his family.”
Young, who has served in the National Guard for 18 years, said this will be his first long-term deployment.
“This was a surprise,” he said, smiling. “I definitely appreciate everything Wichita Public Schools system has done, and also the United States Army.”