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June 21. 2013 9:59AM

Graduates get a glimpse of their childhood at Golden Brook breakfast

SALEM - “Oh, look at you!” teacher Paula Renda exclaimed as she gave Laura Barstow, a former student of hers, a big hug.

The two were reunited at a breakfast at Golden Brook School, where a decade ago, Barstow spent a year learning in Renda’s second-grade classroom.

Every June, the school’s staff welcomes Windham’s graduating seniors back to the building to enjoy a breakfast and reminisce about their time spent there as young elementary school students.

This year’s breakfast, hosted by the Sunshine Club, was held on Friday, June 14. That night, many of the attendees received their high school diplomas at Windham High School.

“I remember the gym being bigger,” said Barstow, who recently graduated from The Derryfield School in Manchester. “It was much bigger when I was 6. It’s really good to see the teachers, and there are tons of photos of us.”

For Renda, a longtime teacher at the school, the breakfasts are always a special event. She had nice words for members of the Class of 2013 – students she knew as children who are now young adults.

“It was a vibrant, humorous, creative class,” said Renda, who had 20 students in the classroom. “I remember all of them. I never forget them. You spend nine months with them. How can you forget them?”

“You never forget their eyes,” she added. “Their bodies change, but you never forget the eyes.”

Other teachers, too, were touched emotionally at the reunion. One of them was told by a student about the positive impact she made on her education. Another educator, who follows the accomplishments of her former students in local newspapers, felt pride in having played an important role in their becoming the people they are today.

In addition to catching up with their former teachers, the students enjoyed looking at photos and watching a video of them presenting book reports and Native American projects. They smiled as they huddled around boards displaying classroom photos, at times marveling at how their friends used to look.

“Welcome back to Golden Brook School. It’s been awhile hasn’t it?” Principal Christi Michaud told the students when they posed with their former teachers for a large group photo. “We have confidence that you will soar and accomplish great things.”

One of Meredith Murphy’s memories was trading food with other kids during lunchtime in the cafeteria. Murphy, 18, spent grades 1 and 2 at Golden Brook and is now interested in pursuing a career in pastries and baking.

“It’s nice to come back here,” said Murphy, who grew up with a lot of graduates. “It brings us together.”

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