JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Ridgefield Christian School seniors are packing up and heading to South Carolina to surprise one of their own.
Jacob Patrick is going to be a senior this year at Ridgefield, but instead of spending his summer in Jonesboro, he went to boot camp for basic training.
Athletic Director Blake Thompson has been Patrick's mentor since eighth grade.
Over the summer, Thompson checked in with Patrick's aunt to see how training was going and that is when he learned none of Patrick's family could make it to graduation.
"It hit me heavy," Thompson said.
Thompson started brainstorming ways to support Patrick, so he reached out to the school's administrator, Marcia Elder, to see if he could set up a mission trip to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
"We try to be an impact to our students and they try to impact us and this is just a token of our appreciation," Thompson said.
On Tuesday, Thompson, the school pastor, and the entire senior class of boys will load up in a van and take off to see their classmate.
The group is also bringing along one of Patrick's family members.
"We are also taking his aunt because she has played a major role in his life, especially while they were here," Thompson said.
Thompson is amazed by Patrick's brave decision to join the armed forces.
"For him to choose what he did at the age of 18, you know I try to be a mentor to him but this has made more of impact on me," Thompson said.
Thompson said he thinks Patrick could help make an impact on other classmates as well.
"I could not come up with a bigger educational experience for these young men before they leave here and go into the real world," Thompson said.
Thompson said he also believes Patrick is a leader and cannot wait to see how his senior years plays out.
Administrator Marcia Elder said there was no question the trip would happen because these boys are family to Patrick.
"When you come to Ridgefield, it is more than just a school to us, it is a family," Elder said.
She also said Patrick is embodying the two main priorities at Ridgefield.
"Our priories are God and country," Elder said.
Thompson said he is excited for the trip along with the boys, and he hopes Patrick is happy they are at the ceremony.
He also wants Patrick to know how much his decision has already impacted him.
"From there I don't know where it is going to lead to but I know it is going to impact me more probably than him just based on what he has done," Thompson said.
Thompson told Region 8 News Patrick may get to ride back with the group as well, so hopefully they can spend the trip hearing about Patrick's summer.
"There is a lot of teaching that will go on that maybe I couldn't get in in a year," Thompson said.
Patrick has been a student at Ridgefield since second grade, so the school is ready to welcome him home for his senior year.
Elder said she hopes to plan a welcome home ceremony later with the entire school.
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