STAMFORD, Conn. — An Army brigade stationed in Afghanistan got a big surprise from the students at Rippowam Middle School in Stamford on Monday.
The entire student body gathered to offer thanks and song over Skype video conferencing to the 10th Mountain Second Brigade Polar Bears division of the U.S. Army.
Rippowam art teacher and Stratford resident Chris Dubuque, whose brother SPC Patrick Dubuque is a medic in that brigade, helped to arrange the memorable day for soldiers and students alike.
“It was amazing,” Chris Dubuque said from behind the curtain. He originally planned to hold a classroom video chat with his technology students.
But only days before Monday’s event, he decided to surprise the soldiers with an all-school assembly instead and worked quickly to organize the event. The idea, he said, “went from 0 to 60 in 10 days.”
The soldiers abroad were told that they would be video chatting with only a few student representatives from the middle school. They had no idea that they would be chatting with the entire student body in the middle school’s auditorium.
They also probably didn’t imagine that students from Mooers Elementary School, located in upstate New York near the Canadian border, would also be in on the Skype chat. Chris Dubuque’s sister, Amanda Frostick, is a teacher at the school and also wanted to do something special for their brother serving in the military.
Students from both schools performed short holiday concerts for the troops. Following the performances, students from Rippowam held a question-and-answer session with the soldiers.
What do you do with your downtime?
FaceTime with family or write thank you letters to people like the students of Rippowam, who send thoughtful donations, a soldier said.
What is the first thing you plan to do when you get home?
Go to Disneyland in California, said another solider.
A student then read an essay thanking the troops for their service. The student body ended the ceremony by cheering “USA, USA, USA.”
In addition to the video chat, Dubuque collected goodies — from Slim Jims to Skittles — to send to the soldiers. He estimated that they sent 300 pounds of goods — stuffed in 25 flat-rate postal service boxes.
“I had no idea we’d get 300 pounds of candy,” Dubuque said. “I was expecting a few handfuls of things.”
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