Two Marion Oaks Elementary students surprised by military parents

Smiles and tears flooded the halls of Marion Oaks Elementary Thursday


OCALA, Fla. – Smiles and happy tears flooded the halls of Marion Oaks Elementary School in Ocala on Thursday.

Kindergarten student Jayden Ammirato and fifth grade student Jacob Kivitt both received a surprise today that they will never forget.

Thursday morning Jacob and his class were reading Dr. Suess books with a kindergarten class at the school. Jacob's teacher announced there would be a special guest coming to read to them, and asked if anyone in the class had any guesses about the guest's identity. The teacher called on Jacob, who didn't know, and asked him to open the door for the guest. Standing there was his mother.

Jacob's mother, Tonya Kivitt, has been on her third tour with the U.S. Coast Guard. She was not supposed to return home until the end of March, but her tour ended a month early and she decided to surprise her son. Kivitt is a single mother.

"Jacob was so surprised he was physically shaking," said Marion County Schools Communications Officer Kevin Christian, adding there were tears all around, as Kivitt's family watched her reunite with Jacob.

One beautiful military-homecoming surprise in the morning led to another one in the afternoon. 

Jayden was sitting in her kindergarten class while the Marion County superintendent, Heidi Maier, read her class "The Cat in the Hat." When she finished the book, Maier, who is the daughter of a military man as well, explained to the class that she was now going to read the sequel. 

She explained a sequel by telling the children "Sometimes a book comes back, just like people come back." When she said that, Jayden's father walked through the door. 

Jason Ammirato is a first sergeant in the U.S. Army and has served in the Army for 20 years. He has spent the last 10 months in South Africa. When Jayden saw him, she ran to him and Ammirato picked him up in his arms.

And once again, "There were tears everywhere," Christian said.