Child gets big surprise at preschool graduation

Child gets big surprise at preschool graduation

From left, Takeysha James, Jaxson James, Dominick James, Jace James and Gavin Simmons pose for a photo following Jaxson’s graduation from preschool. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News

A preschool graduation ceremony became more than just a rite of passage for one Kinston boy on Tuesday.

Dominick James comes out of hiding to present his son Jaxson, third from right, with a diploma. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News

Soon-to-be kindergartener Jaxson James donned a miniature cap-and-gown with the rest of his preschool classmates from Mrs. Lindsey’s Childcare expecting only to show off some of the things he learned during the year and receive a diploma celebrating his achievement. The ceremony, held at Olivia’s Catering in Kinston, was the last time they would all be together before heading to kindergarten in the fall.

As far as Jaxson knew, his father, Dominick James, would miss the ceremony because he was out of the country. A Marine veteran, Dominick spent the last six months in Afghanistan and Iraq due to his work as a military contractor for Northrop Grumman.

Jaxson’s mom, Takeysha James, said her son asked her before the ceremony, “Can you be sure to record it for Dad and take lots of pictures since he can’t be here?”

But Jaxson had no idea Dominick had worked hard to move up his return so he would not miss the ceremony. Dominick said he actually arrived home on Saturday, and he and his wife kept his presence a secret from their three children to be able to surprise Jaxson at his graduation.

When Lindsey Whitley, owner of Mrs. Lindsey’s Childcare, finished handing out diplomas to the rest of Jaxson’s classmates, she explained to Jaxson she couldn’t give one to him, because someone special had it and was waiting to give it to him.

Jaxson James smiles at his father, Dominick. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News

Then, Dominick came out with the diploma in his hand and gave it to a stunned Jaxson, who recovered from his surprise in time to give his father the biggest hug he could manage.

“I did not know he would surprise me like that,” Jaxson said later.

Jaxson said he was very happy and excited to get to see his dad, and happy that his dad was at his graduation.

Takeysha said she thought Jaxson was almost too surprised to react. Their father’s presence was also a surprise for her other two boys, aged 10 and 2. After Dominick finished presenting Jaxson with his diploma, he stepped over to give his other sons a hug as well.

Whitley said she has been hoping for a moment like this for a long time, but the timing of Dominick’s deployments and Jaxson’s events have never lined up until now.

For Jaxson, whose stated ambition when he grows up is “to be strong like my daddy,” his preschool graduation will certainly be a night to remember.

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