More than 20,000 pupils in Columbia County fled their classrooms Friday, the last day of school.
At North Columbia Elementary School, most of the 400 pupils were checked out early by their parents after a special awards presentation for each grade and a luau in the cafeteria, principal Kay Sanders said.
When the final bell rang at 3:30 p.m., only a few dozen pupils remained, burning off candy and cake calories on the playground while they awaited their rides home.
Best friends and rising sixth-graders Shanna Green and Morgan Barton said they plan to spend the summer swimming, playing softball and going to 4-H camp.
The two 10-year-olds said they're not afraid about moving from the county's smallest school to the bustling Greenbrier Middle School.
Morgan, however, did pause: "I'm kind of scared about forgetting my locker number and stuff," she said. "But we're hoping to share lockers."
Another set of best friends at Riverside Middle, eighth-graders Daniele Spagnolo, 14; Ree Fox, 14; and Jordan Kennedy, 13; spent their last school day together Friday. The three will be split up at two different high schools next year.
"It's like the worst thing ever," Daniele said of heading off to Greenbrier High School with Jordan in the fall while Ree will attend Lakeside High.
Jordan admitted she is a little nervous about being a freshman in high school, but the three friends vowed to stay in touch through the transition.
"We have phone numbers, and e-mail addresses and all that," Jordan said.
Riverside Middle teachers eagerly waited outside by the buses to see off the students on the last day.
Emily King, a sixth-grade science teacher, led the pack of teachers waving enthusiastically at each bus pulling away from the curb. As soon as the last bus left, the band of teachers let out a joyous cry that the school year had ended.
The last day of River Ridge Elementary School's first year ended with the song Who Let the Dogs Out blaring from the loudspeakers as pupils poured onto the front walks to wait for their rides home.
Rising first-grader Hannah Slade, 6, had a hard time carrying all of her belongings to the car, but said she was excited that school was out.
"I'm going to Disney World and to the beach," Hannah said before climbing into the family minivan ahead of her brother, Jonah, who donned a colorful sombrero in honor of the class fiesta on his last day of fourth grade.
Evans Middle seventh-grader Delaney Rauch, 12, departed her school for the final time in style. Her mother, Carol Huggins-Rauch, rented a limousine for her and some friends to ride home in.
For Delaney, the day was already special - she and her classmates said goodbye to the current Evans Middle on the corner of Belair and Washington roads, which permanently closed and will be demolished in August. A new Evans Middle, where Delaney will matriculate for eighth grade, is under construction on Hereford Farm Road.
"It's sad to leave it behind," she said. "But going into a new school that's bigger and better will be nice."
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