The memories gushed like a waterfall as did a few nostalgic tears when members of a unique and history-making Yavapai College family gathered earlier this month at the Del E. Webb Family Enrichment Center.

Julie was won over on day one by the FEC's breakfast of animal-shaped pancakes, was a rapt fan of puppet shows and regularly wrapped herself in silk scarves.

Cooper was an avid builder with blocks and ably helped steer a Chinese New Year dragon around campus to the delight of college employees.

Bobby was slightly more prone than his peers to acquire playground injuries and loved to sing at home the songs he learned at school.

Julie (Woolsey), Cooper (Mauldin) and Bobby (Hoskovec) were among the first students at the FEC – YC's early childhood teaching and learning laboratory on the Prescott campus. Thirteen years after making their education debuts there, all three are graduating from Prescott High School.

Along with being FEC inaugural-year alumni, the trio is connected to YC by their parents -- all of whom worked at the college then and do now.

Julie's mom, Denise, is the college's Honors Program director and Phi Theta Kappa advisor. Her dad, Mark Woolsey, is a full-time communication faculty member; Cooper's mom, Lisa Schlegel, is a human resources manager. Bobby's dad, Bob Hoskovec, is an academic advisor. The parent group, minus Mark but including Bobby's mom, Jennifer Kight, former beloved FEC Teacher Lenka Studnicka, and former teacher and now FEC Director Jeannine Skousen comprised the FEC family reunion.

Lenka's memories were the most vivid. She recalled being mesmerized by Julie's "sweet, beautiful spirit," by Cooper's scientific approach to railroad construction and Bobby's boundless energy and affinity for music. All three were "full of life," she said, recalling that as a first-year teacher she would lay awake at night thinking about all of her FEC charges and how best to nurture their individuality.

Jeannine, who was the infant room teacher when the FEC opened in 2007, understood how Lenka was able to hearken back 13 years with some of her first students like it was yesterday. "You really think about them all the time, so they become part of your life," she said.

Music was a staple in guitar-playing Lenka's pre-kindergarten classroom at the FEC. Ironically, Julie, Cooper and Bobby all have leaned into performing arts and music throughout their K-12 careers. Cooper and Bobby are both musicians and members of the PHS Jazz band.

During a tour of the FEC, the parents in the group talked about how they, as YC employees, would watch their youngsters playing from a Building 1 window. "We knew when they had recess," Lisa said. Denise, a communication professor when her daughter attended the FEC, said students in her classes that worked at the FEC would provide her daily reports. "Julie is having a great day," she remembers was a common refrain.

Surveying the classrooms and playground that once loomed so large to a four-year-old, Bobby said, "A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same." Among the unchanged is the "jungle gym" and the fire-red tricycles that Bobby said he remembered racing with friends.

To a person, the former students, their parents and teachers still feel a strong affinity for FEC.

"I always wished that it was here six years earlier for my daughter (and Cooper's older sister) Hannah," Lisa said.

"Without a doubt, I think the experience here was just hands down phenomenal," Bobby's dad, Bob, said.

"I believe the things we learned here really helped us grow," said Julie.