Hazel Crest student gets surprise visit from military dad
By Terrance Peacock Correspondent February 18, 2014 4:16PM
Madison Jones, a fourth-grader at Mae Jemison School in Hazel Crest hugs her father, Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Jones as he returns from duty with the United States Navy. | Terrance Peacock~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2014 2:21AM
While eating lunch in the cafeteria with her classmates, 9-year-old Madison Jones and her peers eagerly awaited the special surprise promised by her principal.
Madison didn’t know that not only was the surprise for her, but that the surprise was a visit from someone she hadn’t seen in quite some time: her father.
Madison, a fourth-grade student at Mae Jemison School in Hazel Crest, cried and hugged her father, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Jones, as he walked into the cafeteria to greet her for the first time since 2012.
Jones, who has been in the Navy for six years, said coming back home and surprising his daughter was a humbling experience.
“I’ve been gone for so long so it’s an overwhelming experience to come back and be welcomed by your kids who you love most,” Jones said.
Yasmin Roberts, Madison’s mother, said her daughter had never been away from her father for as long as she was, and she really missed him.
“She was taking the long distance well, but there were times when she wanted her dad just like any other kid,” Roberts said. “She would call him, text him, email him and everything.”
Madison said she missed her father so much and felt good when her father walked through the cafeteria doors to see her.
She said she was also happy that her classmates were there to witness her being reconnected with her father.
“I really think they appreciate that my dad is going overseas just to save our country,” Madison said. “I missed hugging him so much and I just love him and never want him to go.”
Kenneth Scott, the school’s principal, said Madison was supposed to be surprised in her classroom, but he decided to move it into the cafeteria so more of her peers could see.
“I thought it would be a better opportunity and more of a feeling of a homecoming if we caught her in the cafeteria where there are 225 other students,” Scott said. “That would allow her peer group to share in her excitement as well as herself.”
Scott said the school appreciates Jones’ commitment to the country, his service and his sacrifice.
With her father back home, Madison had a top priority for him.
“We’re going to watch ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ” Madison said.