A heartfelt letter leads to a reunion between KARE 11 Sunrise anchor Cory Hepola and his kindergarten teacher Lorly Schik after nearly 30 years.
The following is reprinted from KARE 11 News site
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Most of us will never forget our first kindergarten teacher.
And sometimes… they remember us too.
“When I first saw him, I could hardly believe it,” said Lorly Schik about a little boy who walked into her classroom nearly 30 years ago, a boy who was grown up when she turned on KARE 11 Sunrise last spring and recognized him.
“I can still picture him as a small dark-haired child in his K-desk!”
Time has turned some of those dark hairs grey for Cory Hepola. The years took him through school, college, and into a TV career that moved him to five different states before he finally returned home to Minnesota and KARE 11.
Those years were spent much differently for Lorly. In 1989, she retired from the Perham school district and was planning to experience the country with her husband, only to see him pass away unexpectedly. Lorly stayed in Perham for nearly 25 more years until a difficult decision was made.
Nearing 90 years old, Lorly decided to leave the comfort and familiarity of her smaller community and move closer to the rest of her family in the Twin Cities. She cried as she left her long-time house in Perham in 2013 for an independent senior living complex in St. Paul.
“The time had come,” she told Cory.
While leaving her past behind was difficult, Lorly was happy to be living just blocks away from her kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But, her past wasn’t ready to let her go.
Lorly began teaching in the 1940’s, and over the years she made a positive impact on hundreds and hundreds of lives. Amazingly, she seems to remember nearly every single student that walked through the door of her classroom. That’s how she instantly recalled Cory, that dark-haired kid in 1988, her second to last class before she retired.
She smiled as she watched her former student on KARE 11 Sunrise. And, then, she got out her pen.
“I just had to tell them how proud I am,” she recalled.
Lorly sat down and penned a card, addressed to Cory’s parents. In nearly perfect cursive, she wrote:
“Hi Diane & Terry. It is with a great deal of pride that I am now watching my former Kindergarten student telecast the news on KARE 11. I can still picture him as a small dark haired child in his K-desk! I am also wondering if you can view that station in Perham??”
“In September 20, 2013 I moved to an Independent Senior Living Complex in St. Paul. It was a very difficult decision, a part of my heart will always be in Perham. My children and grand (& great) children are all in the Twin Cities. The time had come!”
“Greet Cory. Tell him his K-teacher is now 90 years old, enjoys seeing his newscast, and wishes him (and you, too) the VERY BEST!
A couple of weeks later, she received a card in return.
“I just had to tell Mrs. Schik how much her note meant to me. And, really, how much she meant to me,” Cory said.
The thank you also included his phone number, email address, and a question… do you want to meet?
After weeks of planning, the two were re-united in Lorly’s home, as they shared hugs, old pictures, and a few tears.
“My Mom told me I cried on the last day of Kindergarten because I found out you wouldn’t be my teacher the next year,” Cory said.
“And, here we are, crying again!” Mrs. Schik answered.