Teacher's reunion with students is 'my spiking of the ball'
In 1990, children in a Bremerton elementary-school class made a date. In 20 years, they promised, they'd return to the school on Jan. 1, for a reunion. On Friday, the teacher, and close to half his class did just that.
BREMERTON — Richard Lewis invites his former Armin Jahr Elementary students to meet at the school's flagpole on Jan. 1, 2010.
Though he hasn't taught there in 15 years, and those grade-schoolers today are pushing 30, he and 11 of them trickled back to the East Bremerton campus Friday just as they'd promised each other two decades ago.
Nine were from one class of 20 gifted kids Lewis taught as third- and fifth-graders in 1990 and 1992.
"In some ways, they were different," Lewis recalled. "They knew how to work together and liked each other. They had a good spirit about them."
Back in 1990, when they were 8 years old, they couldn't fathom that they'd one day have children of their own, that they'd variously become a computer expert, a marketing director, a nuclear pipe fitter, a server, a land-use planner, a journalist for a sports Web site, an actor or a movie-theater manager.
The classmates, escaping the rain and wind beneath a roof overhang, reminisced about a fifth-grade sleepover at the school and a field trip to Eastern Washington, where they toured Wanapum Dam and played at a Tri-Cities water park. Dan Gomez, a theater worker and actor living in Seattle, remembered getting his nose sunburned.
Jenna Mathews, a mother and server in Bremerton, remembered the teacher forgot his suitcase.
"He had to wear the same thing the entire trip," she said.
Lewis recognized most of the former students. There was also one he'd taught later and another from Jackson Park, where Lewis worked for four years before a 10-year stint at Armin Jahr.
For Lewis, the reunion was like scoring a touchdown.
"It's a very wonderful feeling," he said. "This is my spiking of the ball."
Lewis left teaching because, he said, it became more about teaching subjects than about teaching children, he said. Today he's an actor living in Renton. He said the things he most enjoyed — drama, art and music — nowadays are often considered a waste of instructional time.
"This is an affirmation that what I was doing was a good thing," he said of the successful reunion. "It verifies what I did for these kids and the way I did it was right."
The invitation remains open for another reunion on Jan. 1, 2020.
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