Scotty McCreery is in college now, but he took a trip back in time during a visit to his old elementary school on Thursday (May 7) for a very special performance.

McCreery's former music teacher at Timber Drive Elementary, Elizabeth Palmieri, had heard that he was coming back to his hometown of Garner, N.C., for a visit, so she asked the 2011 American Idol champion and country star if he would perform with the school's children's choir, the Timber Singers, during their concert Thursday evening. McCreery agreed, and showed up at the school on Thursday to rehearse one of his hits, "I Love You This Big," with the kids in preparation for their big night.

McCreery tells the News & Observer that walking into the school building, memories came flooding back to him of some of his own earliest musical experiences, bringing his guitar to Show and Tell and singing in the choir. When he showed up for rehearsal, some of the starstruck kids had trouble keeping their composure, and when rehearsal was over they surrounded the singer, giving him high fives and taking pictures.

“He came here. He sings nice. And he touched my hand three times,” one of the kids, Salena Price, tells the paper. “He’s my favorite singer.”

“It’s just cool to come back and see the old stomping grounds, and it’s fun to see the smiles on kids' faces when they get surprised,” McCreery states. “So I’m glad I’m in a position to give back.”

The choir members' parents hadn't been told about McCreery's participation, so it was a big surprise to see Garner's favorite hometown boy made good take the stage with their own children during the concert, making an exciting night even more memorable for the parents and their kids.

“It was special,” McCreery says. “That’s what you want for them. To be happy, and they are young and having fun. It would have a big night regardless of if I was here, but I hope I made their night a little better.”

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