By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The Mystery Reader program is regularly held through-out the school year at the Walter J. Paton Elementary School. Many times the guest readers are relatives of the students.
On May 14, two of the schools’ students, third grader Ethan Fogg, and his sister, Ella, a first grade student, were very excited when they found out who the guest reader was for their respective classes that day – their older brother Brandon Owens.
Owens, who is 22, is in his fourth year in the U.S. Marine Corps., and holds the rank of sergeant. After finishing a recent stint in Japan, he surprised his family by coming home May 12. He then decided to give his little siblings another surprise by appearing as their respective classrooms’ Mystery Reader. The kids’ teachers’ Daniel Campbell (Ethan) and Jenna Violette (Ella) also helped to keep the secret as well.
Accompanied by his new fiancée, Brooke, Owens first went to Ella’s classroom, where he was met with much excitement and a big hug from the little girl.
Mystery Readers are asked to bring in a book of their choosing. Owens’ book was naturally about the Marine Corps. The book, “A Salute to Our Heroes the U.S. Marines,” by Brandon W. Barnett, features “Chesty the bulldog,” the mascot of the U.S. Marines, who explains the importance of what the Marine Corps. do.
Ella then accompanied her brother to Ethan’s classroom. The little siblings flanked their brother as he read to the class and then answered questions.
He explained that he had not been in any wars, fortunately, but instead had been stationed in various places since joining the Marines.
“I’ve been to the mainland of Japan, Okinawa, Thailand, Bali, Sri Lanka and Bahrain,” he told the kids.
One student asked why Owens had chosen to be a Marine.
“Originally I wanted to join the military to honor one of my buddies who wanted to join but didn’t get the chance to,” he replied. ”
Kelly Delaney, Paton School Child Specific Aide noted that the Mystery Reader program allows “the kids to see their family members in a different kind of environment.”
“It’s really special especially in cases like this where they haven’t seen their brother in a while,” she added.