The final weeks of longtime Huntington School District classroom teacher James Lauter’s three decade long career were filled with remembrances, tearful goodbyes and plenty of good wishes for future happiness.
One of the most memorable segments involved a two-day June reunion of Huntington High School Class of 2018 members who were in Mr. Lauter’s fourth grade class at Flower Hill Primary School many years ago.
Mr. Lauter welcomed back the teenagers in a manner that only he could pull off, making them feel right at home in his current second grade classroom. The veteran educator took delight in introducing each one of the seniors to the youngsters in his 2018 class. He beamed with pride as he discussed their attributes and his memories of the time they all spent together.
The first wave of returnees included Jerry Mata, Finn Tucker, Alexandra Lourenso, Sofia Ornato and Tyler Campos.
“They really turned out to be polite and confident young men and women,” Mr. Lauter said. The second-graders in the room listened attentively as each of the seniors outlined their college plans and future goals and dreams.
As the teenagers were leaving, Mr. Mata handed Mr. Lauter a nickel. “When I was in your class, you gave me a nickel one day so that I could have snack,” the teenager explained. At least one set of eyes welled-up with tears.
The second wave of the reunion came when Tyler Gerbavsits and his sister Alexandra and Katie Seccafico came to visit, armed with their fourth grade journals.
“They kept outstanding journals, filled with great details of their fourth-grade experiences, both in and out of school,” Mr. Lauter boasted.
All three students used the overhead document camera to display journal entries packed with wonderful pictures. When one of Mr. Lauter’s current second graders noticed the date in the journal listed as 2010, he blurted out “2010! That’s when I was born!”
Mr. Gerbavsits presented her former teacher with a Blue Devil golf hat and a box of golf balls that Mr. Lauter can use during his retirement. You see, Mr. Gerbavsits is one of Huntington High School’s greatest golfers ever, reaching the state tournament twice. He has been recruited to play on the St. John’s University team. So the present was especially meaningful.
The Gerbavsits siblings also presented Mr. Lauter with a framed photograph of the two of them taken years earlier at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida with the celebrity dolphin Winter.
“The two separate visits from the seniors added up to a couple of afternoons of fun and a lifetime of memories,” Mr. Lauter said. He presented each of his former students with a small, framed picture of themselves taken during their fourth grade days.