LONDONDERRY — They may have gotten a bit taller, but members of South Elementary School's Class of 2005 will always be Hawks at heart.
On Friday morning, the day of graduation, two bus loads of graduating Londonderry High School seniors pulled up in front of their former elementary school, eager to bid farewell to the teachers who influenced their early years.
The teens were welcomed by several dozen South School teachers.
Some have since retired from teaching but said they wouldn't miss the chance to see their former students again.
Over the past decade, the senior breakfast has been a cherished tradition at the elementary school. There have been years when the teachers have stood out in the rain to catch a first glimpse of the kids who have become young adults.
“Between grades one through 12, a lot changes,” fifth-grade teacher Sue Dalzell said. “So it's nice to have them come back here and do something special for them.”
“We get to see how far they've come,” added Judy Duvall, also a fifth-grade teacher.
Arriving by the same yellow school buses they've ridden in for the past dozen years, the former South School Hawks waved to their teachers.
Inside the school cafeteria, more memories awaited.
Name tags bearing each student's fifth-grade class picture were handed out, while bulletin boards were covered with photographs.
Several televisions were set up around the room, with footage of school plays, class projects and sporting events splashing on the screens.
And tucked in another corner, an oversized white poster beckoned the seniors to pen their favorite memories, something the teachers said they'd enjoy reading later on.
“It's fun to read the things they remember,” said Dalzell.
Following a hearty breakfast and slide show, the seniors had the chance to romp on the playground and enjoy a just few more carefree hours of childhood before they donned their caps and gowns.
“We still have to tell them not to climb the trees,” retired teacher Priscilla Clarkson said with a laugh.
On their final day as fifth-graders, each student was given a form to fill out, asking them to share a memory, their most loyal friends and their dreams for the future.
On Friday, those forms were given back to the seniors to help them look back.
The tradition continued later that day, fifth-grade teacher Debby Gomez said, as this year's exiting fifth-graders were asked to fill out a similar form.
“We make sure they promise to come back in seven years for the senior breakfast,” she said.