It was a full-circle moment for Scotty McCreery last week, when he returned to his former school, Timber Drive Elementary, in Garner, N.C., to sing with the fifth grade class.

The class performed McCreery's first No. 1 hit, "I Love You This Big," which was released immediately after McCreery won American Idol. The 21-year-old was contacted by his former music teacher, Elizabeth Palmieri, who recruited McCreery to join the class for a special concert.

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

The experience was meaningful for McCreery as well, who vividly recalls bringing his own guitar into the same building for show-and-tell many years ago.

“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 adds. “So I’m glad I’m in a position to give back.”

The students, who were in first grade when McCreery was crowned the Season 10 Idol winner in 2011, were still starstruck by the country star.

“He came here. He sings nice. And he touched my hand three times,” student Salena Price, who burst into tears when McCreery walked in the room, says. “He’s my favorite singer.”

The North Carolina native showed off his musical talents early in his life, giving his fellow classmates a show on the school bus each day when he was growing up.

“He started singing Elvis on the back of the bus,” longtime friend Brett Bailey recalls. ”It was almost like a mini Elvis [Presley] concert on the back of the school bus.”

McCreery enjoyed a few days off following his performance at the elementary school. He will join Rascal Flatts for the next leg of their 2015 Riot Tour, which kicks off on May 29 in Maryland Heights, Mo. A complete list of dates is available on McCreery's website.

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