Having just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, the soldier came to the school to surprise his nephew, first grader Bryson Ellison. Serving in the war zone for the past year, Bryson has not seen his uncle in more than a year.
Chad Fox, assistant principal, began the introduction without revealing Paris’s identity, but not without a subtle hint. Fox mentioned that one of the students had not seen the surprise guest in over a year.
Bryce’s curiosity was peaked but the secret remained safe.
“We had Bryson on the front row and some of Mr. Fox’s comments had Bryce wondering,” said Twyla Thomas, principal. “Bryson was overjoyed when his favorite uncle walked out from behind the stage curtain to surprise him.”
Bryson bolted from his seat to embrace his uncle.
As the veteran lead the teachers and students in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge, emotions ran high among students and teachers alike.
Fox taught and coached Paris when he attended Refugio ISD. A 2010 graduate of Refugio High School, Paris was a student of many of the misty-eyed elementary teachers who sat among the students.
“Brock was a very good kid who had many friends in school,” Fox said. “He was always making students and teachers laugh and he always had a smile on his face.”
While Paris was in school, Fox was unaware of his intention to join the service.
“When I found out, it did not surprise me; Brock was always a team player and was always willing to help fellow students and teachers,” Fox said.
Paris excelled in track during his years at RHS.
“As a freshman, he ran a 51.80 quarter which is outstanding for a 15-year-old and he ran on the varsity mile relay team that advanced to the regional meet,” Fox said.
After leading the pledges, Paris was a quiet participant in the assembly.
In every situation in life, teachers find a lesson that can be taught. Fox, who is also an Army veteran, and Thomas explained how important are patriotism, citizenship, and service to their country.
The children also learned the value of people who protect their freedom and, in exchange, how they should be honored for that service — a lesson more easily taught with a soldier of the ongoing war in Afghanistan sitting in the room.