Emotional reunion: Naval Officer surprises twins at south St. Louis County school

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ST. LOUIS – Three hundred pre-K to eighth-grade students from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School anxiously awaited two of their classmates who were about to get the surprise of a lifetime. Their 4-year-old classmates’ dad who has been on two tours of duty and gone for 13 months was going to soon walk through the door.

When their dad walked in, twins Bo and Elly were so stunned they froze.

“Yup, he’s been gone since November and prior to that, he had done a deployment and the kids were here as well,” Pre-School Secretary Kelly Cox said. “They were stationed in California and he was called back early to go back out and so they stayed here, and the kids were enrolled in school.”

As the shock wore off, the extended family of students and staff begin the homecoming celebration.

“It’s very surreal to be back,” Naval Chief Petty Officer Dustin Brzezniak said. “It’s nice to be able to surprise the kids. I can’t thank everyone here enough. It’s pretty awesome. They went above and beyond which was pretty great, I was not expecting this. Which was cool. So, thank you very much to the school and my family and wife’s family for being the support back here while I’ve been gone which felt like forever.”

There is boisterous support for the Brezniac family from St. Francis of Assisi School.

“Back when he was first deployed, we did a prayer service praying him on his way,” Principal Beth Bartolotta said. “We had prayer blankets made for the kids. We knew it would be a long journey for this family. And then to see it come to fruition with Dad coming home it was really special.”

“Beautiful. I think one of the big things I took away from it is just family,” Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church & School Fr. Anthony Yates said. “You know you heard some of my staff say how much of a community we are and family. And that’s just such an important thing of a Catholic school, that we’re all one and the family element that comes together.”

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