Friday, June 10, 2011

Final Bell

The bell rings, doors whoosh open, kids run through the hallway, aching to get out the door, away from school, and home for summer vacation.

That's the iconic, Rockwell-esque vision of the last day of school.

But try this one on for size-- the entire Elementary school community, including 100 first through fifth graders and several dozen teachers and staff members, gathered on the lawn in front of the 88-year-old school building. They said goodbye by crying and hugging.

That's what happened at local Evans Valley Elementary School. When it closed its doors for summer, it closed its doors for good. Extreme budget deficits for the coming school year pushed the school district to close the older, more rural school. For more than a year, parents have been lobbying the school board to keep Evans Valley open.

On Tuesday, EVES closed for good. To mark the day, teachers planned a "fun, peppy" day. There was a school-wide assembly and a by a school-wide dance. The kids went back to their classrooms, cleared out their desks and cubbies, filled up their backpacks and left their rooms one last time.

At the very end of the school day, everyone gathered in front of the main building for a closing ceremony. The 5th grade students rang the bell that hangs in the school's rafters. The Principal led one last "Wolf Roar." Then the kids made their way down the hill to the buses.

That's when everyone lost it.

Kids, knowing they would never come back to EVES as a student, started crying.
Teachers, knowing they'd likely never teach at EVES again, started crying.
Parents, knowing the school they love is actually closing, started crying.

I felt a little lump in my throat and a little moisture in my eyes.

The kids slowly walked to the bus line, wiping away tears, and looking back at the school. As the buses filled up, students opened the windows and waved goodbye to the teachers they were leaving behind. As the busses pulled away, students yelled out, "Have a good summer!" "We'll miss you!" "I love Evans Valley!"

Many kids hugged their teachers goodbye. Maybe they were hugging extra hard to say goodbye to the school, too.

Evans Valley's Last Day.

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