Keeping a secret from Mr. Rogers

Friday, November 18, 2005
Gordonville Elementary School principal Andrew Rogers chatted with Aaron Grubbs, 6, during Thanksgiving dinner held in the school's cafeteria. Rogers is currently on military leave from Iraq. (Don Frazier)

Nearly 40 first- through third-graders at Gordonville Elementary kept a big secret from their principal Thursday.

Andrew Rogers has been in Iraq since June 1 but is home on leave until Nov. 29. In addition to being a school principal and Guardsman with the engineering brigade of the 35th infantry division in Cape Girardeau, Rogers is also a new father.

So after the school's Thanksgiving feast Thursday the students and staff surprised Rogers with a baby shower.

The shower was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but the school was closed because of flooding. Rogers, who also is the principal at Millersville Elementary and the Primary Annex, said he was wondering what was going on as the students filed back into the cafeteria after recess Thursday.

"I had no idea. School never ceases to amaze me," he said. "The teachers just outdo themselves."

After the students were done congratulating Rogers, the teachers handed out cupcakes and Rogers walked around the cafeteria personally thanking each student and shaking their hands.

"I've got real mixed feelings about coming back and being around the staff and the kids, but it's a great place," Rogers said. "I really do miss school."

The students seem to miss Rogers as much as he misses them.

Kaileigh Huckabee, a third-grader, said she cried a little when Rogers left at the end of the last school year.

"It makes me sad because I haven't seen him in a while," she said.

She said Rogers always used to give her a high five, and it felt good to have him back.

Rogers has been Kaileigh's principal since kindergarten.

Second-grader John Herdina missed Rogers so much he insisted on sitting next to him during the Thanksgiving feast. They talked about kickball and football.

He's a nice, caring principal, said third-grader Wyatt Blattel, who added that he's proud of his principal for fighting in Iraq.

"I just feel really confident in him. He's fighting for everybody in America," Wyatt said.

All 36 students write him letters.

The students also made a book in which each one wrote him a note. The book included a photo of each student so Rogers could put a face with a name. He wrote a note to each student and sent the book back to the school.

"They loved that," teacher Geri Beussink said.

Rogers will be back at Gordonville to visit with the students and have lunch with the teachers before he leaves on Nov. 29. He will return home for good sometime before June 1 next year.

ameyer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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