ROXBURY, NJ – An Army soldier, who’s been away since graduating from Roxbury High School this spring, gave his little brother an early Christmas present by surprising him with a visit to his school last week.

The soldier, Tyler DePree, worked with his mother, Krystin DePree and Nixon School Principal Danielle Lynch to set up the Dec. 19 visit on short notice. His brother, third-grader Kevin Powers, didn’t expect DePree to be home until Dec. 20.

When DePree, who’s been in Virginia for training, showed up at the school in Landing, Kevin was shocked; he jumped into his big brother’s arms for a hug.

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DePree, who returns to Virginia on Jan. 3, has been unable to communicate much with his family while undergoing military training. He made the most of his visit to Nixon School, bringing with him a Wendy’s meal he and his brother shared. He also read a book to Kevin’s class.

“He’s the biggest Christmas present I’ve ever gotten,” exclaimed the youngster.

DePree, a former Nixon School student, asked to see during his visit one of his former teachers, Maureen Milde. Milde retired last year after teaching 23 years in Roxbury, but she was happy to come back for this special surprise.  

Kevin also had Milde as a teacher as did Nixon School second-grade teacher Kurtis Start, who stopped in the cafeteria to watch the special reunion.

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