Reunited after almost two years...

Student standing in front of student bodyWLEX News Story
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 Commonwealth Journal article:
 
BY CARLA SLAVEY

What started as Alyson Simpson’s demonstration to her classmates on what to do during a tornado ended with the girl being swept up and twirled around for a different reason.

When the Burnside Elementary fourth grader was called to the front during an Friday afternoon assembly, she didn’t know the real reason she was being singled out.

She was about to be reunited with an uncle she hadn’t seen for a long time.

Matthew Chaney of the United States Army has been stationed in Alaska, and has not been home in a year and eight months.

Despite the distance, Simpson is still emotionally close to her uncle. Still, the girl didn’t know that Chaney was going to be surprising her by showing up during an assembly in the school’s gym.

After principal April Mounce asked for a volunteer to show everyone the correct way to hide under a table during a storm, Mounce chose Simpson to come to the front. While Simpson was distracted, Chaney was brought into the gym.

The girl said it took about one second to recognize her uncle before she ran to give him a hug.

Chaney, for his part, was surprised by the show of support from the school. After the reunion, Mounce asked the students what they did when they met someone in the military. The entire audience responded by saying, “Thank you.”

“They pulled the wool over my eyes,” Chaney said. When he was asked to go to the school, he said he had expected to reunite with his niece in the principal’s office, not be asked to walk out in front of all the students.


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Burnside Elementary is a public elementary school serving Preschool thru 5th grade. Our school's mission is to inspire students to achieve excellence in academics, citizenship and character. At Burnside, our motto is, Whatever it takes, our kids are worth it!

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Our Vision We value children and believe that every child has the potential to be a successful student at Burnside Elementary. We believe in collaboration between staff, parents, and students to achieve academic excellence. Collectively, we provide a safe supportive environment, fostering learning, not limited to the four walls of a classroom. Our students will extend their learning to their homes and communities, and in the process, developing a life-long passion for learning.
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