SEWICKLEY (KDKA) — Second graders in Kristina DiRenzo’s class are looking forward to the afternoon assembly.

Imogen Nowak, 7, and fellow students at Osborne Elementary sent care packages to Imogen’s father, an Army captain stationed in Qatar.

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“All of the students in the entire school packaged up candy to send over to him so that he could share with the soldiers in his unit,” her teacher says. “And that was really great.”

The assembly will be a thank you to the kids, or so they think.

Students file into the multipurpose room, not knowing that Capt. Erik Nowak has already returned from the Middle East.

Imogen addresses the assembly, unaware that her father is sneaking up behind her. She turns, and gives a cry of delight.


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There are tears of joy, as the audience bursts into ecstatic applause. Somehow, Mom and Dad kept the secret.

“I really wasn’t sure we pulled it off until right then,” Capt. Nowak says. “But listening to her speak, I realized she had no idea.”

“They have an incredible father-daughter bond, and they’ve had it since day one,” adds her mother, Krista Nowak.

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As for Imogen’s reaction?

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“I was very surprised!”