Most pupils had left River Ridge Elementary School by the time the final bell rang Thursday, when Columbia County's schools let out for the summer.
Many pupils left after the fifth-grade graduation ceremony and class parties ended earlier in the day, said Revelle Cox, who completed her first year as the school's principal.
Patrick Woolard, 8, a rising fourth-grader at River Ridge, said he enjoyed the last day of school.
"It was fun. My favorite part was the end because now we don't have to do any work," he said.
Rising sixth-grader Mary Reed, 10, said she would miss River Ridge and "all the special things that happen here."
Next year, she will attend Stallings Island Middle School, which is opening on Blackstone Camp Road in August.
The atmosphere was much more festive at Riverside Middle School, where music blared over the intercom and bus drivers honked their horns as they pulled out of the parking lot.
Principal Don Putnam watched Riverside pupils leave the school for summer vacation for the final time.
Putnam is taking the reins at Stallings Island next year, and he said 33 of 105 Riverside faculty members are going to the new school with him.
"The last day of school is always a busy day, so I'll be able to think about it in the next couple of days," he said.
However, he said he would feel at home in his new surroundings because about 260 Riverside pupils were rezoned for Stallings Island.
Rising sixth-grader Leeroy Francis, 11, is staying at Riverside next year. He said he would miss his friends who are going to the new school. He also said three of his friends are moving out of state.
"Leaving all your friends is sometimes really painful," he said.
However, Leeroy, who is going to Panama this summer, said he was looking forward to having a break from schoolwork and papers.
The first year at Cedar Ridge Elementary School ended with celebratory festivities.
"It was a great day," Principal Sarah Walls said. "It was a great ending."
She said she had many parents come inside to tell her how much they appreciated having their children attend the new school.
The school's fifth-graders got a shock via the afternoon announcements broadcast just before release.
"All fifth-graders, only you have one more week of school," the mock announcement said.
At Grovetown Middle School, Miyoko Rhodes, 14, ended her final day of eighth grade by sobbing and hugging her friends and teachers.
County School Superintendent Charles Nagle also looked back on his first year in the school system's top position.
He said his biggest accomplishment was overseeing the largest rezoning plans in the county's history. The rezoning efforts, which affected all seven middle schools and all four high schools, were completed in preparation of the openings of Stallings Island Middle and Grovetown High schools.
"For a first year, I'll take this one and build on it," Nagle said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.