AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – In March, Students at Akron’s National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM School surprised their school’s beloved counselor Marvin Grandison with an emotional sendoff just before Grandison, an Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt., deployed to the middle east.

The seniors at the school were the first class he had seen through their high school years since they were freshmen.

Grandison would miss their graduation where he would normally be reading out their names as they crossed the stage.

So the senior class staged a mock graduation with homemade caps, the school allowing Grandison to hand out certificates and other documents to the seniors as they crossed the stage at their assembly.

In the time he was away, the school adopted a new costume for their mascot, the ‘Eagles,’ and held a contest for the naming of the mascot.

“We had staff and students suggest names for the eagle and then they got to vote, do a final vote and we ordered a jersey and the jersey took a long time to get in longer than we expected,” said Principal Jen Blankenship.

The winning name “Apollo” scheduled to be revealed during an early morning ceremony on Wednesday.

But this time the roles were reversed, with the surprise on the students. 

“The timing was right because we just got the jersey last week and coach Grandison was due to come back today so it was a perfect time to tell the students that we were going to reveal the name,” said Blankenship.

During Wednesday’s 7:15 a.m. assembly, without the students realizing it, the new mascot walked out on stage doing his best to fire up the sleepy audience.

Inside the costume was Grandison.

He took off the eagle headpiece, revealing himself to the roar of an ovation from the students.

“It’s so good to be back. Thank you for this awesome event. The love is felt. I can’t wait to meet you all and reconnect with some of you soon, all of you,” said Grandison.

“It was surreal. I was hoping I would get that reaction but like you said they were a little lethargic at first. I needed to do something to hype them up so once I revealed myself they definitely opened up,” Grandison told Fox 8, anxious to get to work and introduce himself to a new class of freshmen.

“They are almost like my own kids, so being away for that long you think about how they are doing, how they have grown, how they have progressed over the year. So I thought about them a lot,” said Grandison.

“Today, it was very emotional for the staff to see him come back. Kids have been asking when is he going to be back? And just to see the reaction from them was priceless,” said Blankenship.

“You could tell from the roar when he took the eagle the head of the eagle off how important he is. Everyone is so excited,” she added.

“Just to reconnect with the staff and the students just to be a part of this stem culture, this stem family it’s something that, it’s remarkable. I’m blessed to be a part of it,” said Grandison.