We are talking about memories of the last days of school. Mine were pretty much the same all through elementary school, which for me consisted of grades first through sixth. Almost no one I knew attended Kindergarten, which were all private schools at the time.
Sometime right after the first week of June, we’d have our last full day of school. We would already be wound-down, “Field Day” would have been a week or so before and ‘perfect attendance’ awards given would have been presented on the field. (We never had academic awards; I might well have made those. Perfect attendance was no way in the cards as I caught everything that went around.) Over the next few days most of the teachers made little pretense of lessons. They went through their files and desks, returning papers and artwork to students, which the kids took home.
[Can you guess which one is me? Second row, second from the left; white sweater, white headband.]
We lugged page after page, workbook after workbook home, not to mention art and science projects forgotten on shelves. One year a couple of us had plants to take home. We had been comparing sprouts that were grown in differing conditions. Mine had been deprived of light in the teacher’s closet, and we had all forgotten about it; it was very sickly. She and I both decided it was beyond hope. I did not take it home after all.
The last full day books would be turned in to be inspected for damage before they were stored away and be distributed the next year to those entering our grade. Although we were admonished never to deface a book,(and most of us were scared to death to do so), I never saw anyone get into trouble for turning in a marked-up book and we often received damaged ones the next year, written in, and sometimes with pages missing.
The last day our desks would be fully cleared out and we’d be told to scrub the tops clean. Again, we were given non-specific, yet horrifying threats about writing or carving into desks at the beginning of the year, but there were always the kids who left permanent scars in theirs with no repercussions. We used brown-bag paper towels and scouring powder to “clean” the desktops; the desks and our hands would be worse for it.
The next day there would be no school but we weren’t finished yet, as the day following that we would have to get up, get dressed,(girls in dresses or skirts, boys in long pants), and make our way to school one more time. We needed to go for about half a day to collect our report cards… and let the schools collect their last blood money from the state for our ‘attendance’. They had to have a certain amount of days to get a dollar a day per student and they would collect it, you better believe it. If we had a lot of snow days off, they’d add a few more days to the school year as they did the year we had a half-day on my sister’s birthday, (Flag Day, June 14th), but we never attended long enough to get to mine, (June 20th; depending on the year, it’s the last day of Spring or the first day of Summer).
And most of us walked home, although some of the boys ran, illegally, with the teacher -on-duty yelling at them. The only other time they dared to run was during the World Series. Our school let out at 3:00, the games started at 3:00 and the boys didn’t want to miss any more than they had to. Only a few kids who would have to cross a highway rode the bus, but they must have been almost as uncomfortable as we were. In those dresses, it was cold going in the Winter and hot in the Spring…the longer the school year, the hotter the days.
And then…FREEDOM. It felt really good.
After decades I have gotten back in touch with a few former classmates, especially Diane, (the Girl Scout in the class picture), and Mary,(fourth row; fourth from the left), and David,(not shown). We are having a really good time these days, mostly online, since none of us still live in the state where we attended school together…and we get to have that fun in casual clothing!
I hope everyone has a safe and fun Summer…(or Winter, and a good school year, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere!)