Rocky graduates surprise retiring Johnson Elementary kindergarten teacher

Johnson Elementary kindergarten teacher Lorrie Unrein with a group of former students in high school graduation gowns

Cloaked in maroon graduation gowns, seven Rocky Mountain High School seniors tiptoed through the halls of Johnson Elementary School, an eager entourage of camera-toting teachers following quietly behind them.

They were on a mission. 

As they approached the door for Mrs. Lorrie Unrein’s kindergarten classroom, a few of them turned to each other and nervously giggled. It was almost time for the big reveal.

Mrs. Unrein was their kindergarten teacher 12 years ago. These students, who started their Poudre School District career in her classroom, wanted to give her a proper sendoff as she completed her own and retired.

“I remember her smile,” Teagan Liufau said. “She’s one of the most genuine people I think I’ve ever met. She’s really authentic and kind, and I remember me, being five years old, looking up and seeing that smile every day. That was pretty special.”

When the students walked through the doors wearing their caps and gowns, they first encountered a stunned silence. The kindergarten students in the classroom shifted around on their seats.

Then, Mrs. Unrein beamed.

“Oh you guys,” she said, pulling them into a group hug as her kindergarten students looked on. 

One of her former students turned to the class and told the students that she once sat in their seats with Mrs. Unrein as her teacher. 

“And look how big they are now,” Mrs. Unrein cut in, laughing. 

The students lingered for a few minutes, reminding each other of happy memories they’d shared in Mrs. Unrein’s classroom more than a decade ago.

“We started with you,” former student Rylee Bundy said. “We wanted you to end (your career) with us.”