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Seventh grade English teach David Walton wasn't expecting to see an auditorium filled with students, faculty and loved ones Thursday morning. But that's what happened. They were there to celebrate him.

"It brought back tears of joy. Tears of just thinking about all that has happened. And just realizing that I have had a small part in these childrens, these young peoples lives," said an emotional Walton.

Walton taught 50 years in all: eight years in Bibb County schools and 42 at First Presbyterian.

Summer Sanders, 14, said Walton has played a big role in her life. "He makes English fun. Right before I got into his class I didn't really like English and now it's one of my favorite subjects. He inspired me to take honors English this year in ninth grade."

Sanders said Walton isn't just an English teacher to her. "He's like a grandfather to me. I've always loved him and even though I'm not in his class I still talk to him and just to see him cry made me kind of upset," she said.

Walton's even had the pleasure of teaching his own grandson.

"It's been an honor to watch him grow and mature during his seventh grade year," said Walton.

In addition to singing and kind words, the ceremony showcased a slide show which took a look back at Waltons's life. It included a performance that's become famous among students, a clip of him reciting Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky. In college he promised a teacher he would share it with students.

Walton says he loves the job that he's been doing for five decades."I knew when I was in middle school that I wanted to be a teacher. And as such, it's in your genes, I suppose you could say," said Walton.

Follw Elise Brown on Twitter @elisedbrown

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