By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Grads visit their elementary schools

At Buel, Columbus, Grandhaven, Newby, Memorial and Wascher schools, the almost-graduates paraded through the hallways in their red caps and gowns, visited former teachers, and offered some words of inspiration to their younger peers.

Steven Farley was among more than 40 graduating seniors who returned to Memorial. “This is a very exciting day,” he said.

He’s visited the school quite a bit, since he has three younger siblings there, including second-grader Madison. And he likes to walk the hallway named in honor of his grandfather, Homer Farley, a World War II veteran.

But he was pleased to be there Friday with other members of the Class of 2013.

“I’m especially excited to see Mrs. Mekkers,” he said. “I’d really like to thank her. She had a profound influence on me.”

Not only does he have great memories of her fifth grade class, he said, he also wanted to thank her for something more recent.

Lynn Mekkers, who retired right after the Class of 2013 finished fifth grade, has been paying for her former students’ grad night tickets. “That’s how I say I’m proud,” she said.

Steven and the others didn’t know that until they attempted to buy their tickets and discovered her secret gift.

Luckily, Mekkers was substituting for another teacher on Friday. Steven found her having lunch with her temporary students on the patio at the center of the school.

His former teacher recognized him immediately, even though she has to look up at him these days.

“Oh, my goodness, look at you! All grown up!” she said, giving him a hug,

Wiping tears from her eyes, Mekkers noticed the gold honor chord attached to his robe, signifying a GPA of 3.5 or better. “This doesn’t surprise me at all,” she said.

They talked a little about things Steven’s class had done in fifth grade. He said he remembers most the living history unit. He dressed up as Charles Lindbergh and built a model airplane to illustrate the flyer’s exploits.

They discussed what’s next for Steven, too.

Thanks to all the College Credit Now credits he earned while at Mac High, he will start Oregon State University as a sophomore this fall. He plans to study engineering and join the Naval ROTC program. His goal is to become a Naval officer.

“Wow, that’s super,” Mekkers said. “I’m so proud of you!”

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