BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A school assembly turned into an emotional reunion for one teacher in Baldwin.
Teacher Regina Benzing was emceeing a “Student of the Month” assembly program at the Lenox School Wednesday – or at least, she thought she was.
Turns out it was a surprise reunion with her son Eric, who had been deployed overseas since September 2017 with the U.S. Air Force.
The assembly began normally enough, with Regina greeting the students, and reading the name of the first two student of the month winners.
Then she saw the name on the third certificate.
“Eric Benzing?” she said, and her son walked into the assembly.
The crowd burst into applause and cheers as the two emotionally embraced. Students pulled out American flags and started waving them as the two hugged and cried.
Regina said she was “absolutely” surprised.
“I was like ‘What? They made a mistake.’ I can’t believe this,” she said, before hugging and kissing her son again. “This is unbelievable.”
Students pulled out signs reading “Welcome home Eric” and “Thank you for your service.”
“My knees are shaking,” Regina Benzing said. “Ecstatic. Absolutely ecstatic. It’s good to hold my boy. I’ve been waiting for a long time to put my arms around him. It’s a great, great feeling. Nothing better.”
Eric Benzing had been deployed in Germany since September. He thanked the students for the signs and the warm welcome and gave them a few words of wisdom.
“I just want to let you guys know that school’s really important. Make sure you’re making good decisions. Just make really good decisions with your life, and make sure you guys are listening to all your parents, because they’re really important,” Eric said. “They really care for you guys. Just make sure you’re doing good in school as well.
“I want to thank everyone for this great surprise. It just got me right in the heart. And I’m just so glad to share this homecoming with my Lenox family,” Regina said.
Eric said he’s looking forward to spending time with his family and friends during his 20-day stay.