Bergman teachers surprise colleague after her husband’s sudden deployment

By Bryan Richardson

Alaina Fennell, a speech language pathologist at Bergman Elementary, didn’t expect to be wearing a veil in front of her colleagues in the school library Friday.

The day was meant to just be a faculty work day, but lunchtime turned into a surprise wedding reception for the newly married Fennell.

“It’s not even the cake and the reception,” she said. “It’s everybody stopping by my office and asking me how I’m doing, asking me if I’m OK and asking me about my husband.”

Friday provided a surprise, but nothing during the past couple of weeks has been expected for the bride whose husband, Brian, isn’t here with her.

Alaina moved from North Dakota to Kansas with Brian during the summer of 2013 when he was stationed at Fort Riley.

They planned to have their wedding in August of this year before Brian’s planned deployment in September.

However, Brian was informed on Jan. 27 that he might have to leave as early as that Friday.

Instead of their planned wedding back in North Dakota, the couple got married after school Jan. 30 at the Riley County Courthouse with a few teachers witnessing the event.

Brian left at 3 a.m. Monday, a day Alaina went to school to teach.

Alaina, who wore a sweatshirt Friday with the logo of Brian’s favorite college football team, Alabama, said being flexible is a part of the military life.

She said she’s thankful for the busy work that her job provides her during a difficult time.

“It’s just been a crazy week,” Fennell said. “To have this many people care is just wonderful.”

Bergman holds a spirit breakfast with its faculty every month, but Friday’s meal became a lunch and surprise reception.

“I’m actually on the team that put the lunch together,” Alaina said. “I had no idea.”

While Alaina grabbed cookies and soda from the store, everyone else set up the surprise, complete with cake, flowers and pictures of the couple being set up.

“I was a little annoyed that I was running errands,” Alaina said.

That feeling went away when she was given her veil.

Alaina figured that the members of Bergman’s special education team had something to do with the surprise,

Paige Frabizzio, a part of that team, didn’t deny her role in the well-received deception.

“Yes, that’s very true,” she said. “I love surprises. I love parties. I love celebrating.”

Frabizzio went through a similar situation with her husband of two years who deployed the week after they got married.

She said there’s a whirlwind of emotions that takes place in this type of situation.

“You’re happy to start your life together,” Frabizzio said. “At the same time, you have to hit the pause button and now wait longer to start that happily ever after.”

Once Fennell addressed everybody, she thanked the people that she considers “her family.”

Fennell, wearing her veil, declared that the rest of the day would keep the spirit of the surprise wedding reception alive.

“It’s staying on,” she said. “I think I shall keep it.”

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