By Donna Thornton/News Editor
When the Skype connection between U.S. Army PFC Adam Clough and the students at Mitchell Elementary School faltered momentarily, 10-year-old Ally Pruitt told some classmates that “it’s hard to Skype all the way across the earth.”
Little did Ally know, there was little earth between her and her big brother Adam, who was in the office at her school waiting to surprise her.
Adam said it was his idea to engineer a surprise for his sister when he unexpectedly got leave to come home for a visit for the first time in a year.
Local Mom Kelly Pruitt said she worked for about a month to get things set up with the Mitchell faculty and staff.
The cover story that came together for Ally and other students was that a Skype visit had been arranged with Adam so he could talk to students about serving in the army. Three students had prepared questions to ask; the third student was Ally. The well-executed plan had her brother come through a door to the school’s media center behind her, while she had her attention on a computer screen. The surprised worked.
For a moment Ally hesitated, then ran to her brother’s open arms as her classmates applauded.
“You saw me stop for a minute?” Ally said, afterwards. “I thought how can it be real?”
There were some gasps in the room from Jerry and Glenda Pruitt, too. The couple, grandparents to Ally, Adam and their brother Caimen, had been told they should come to Mitchell to see Ally get an award.
“I thought ‘why to we need to come for an award,’” Jerry said, while Glenda had questioned Kelly about what the award was for.
“They said they were going to Skype it so Adam could see her get the award and I thought, well OK,” Jerry said.
They were as astonished as Ally was to see Adam in the flesh.
“Your momma sure can keep a secret,” Jerry told his grandchildren.
Adam flew in the night before and his wife Mallory Batson Clough picked him up. His brother Caimen brought him to the school, meaning that even though she’d talked to him, Kelly hadn’t seen her son until he came into the Mitchell media center either.
There were lots of hugs and among the family members, and some broad smiles from the students and the faculty.
Ally’s teacher Katie Holland helped set up the Skype call and plan where students should sit and where Adam would come in so that Ally wouldn’t see him.
Adam said he’s always been close to Ally, who is about 15 years young than he is.
And Ally confirmed that she misses her big brother when he’s away.
Adam will have a several days to spend with his family before he heads back overseas.