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Students, teachers say goodbye for summer

By Sarah Nagem
Salisbury Post
Miniature desks were stacked in a corner alongside miniature chairs. A Starburst wrapper and other scraps littered the floor. Faint markings on the dry-erase board promised that learning had once taken place here.
But not on Tuesday. No, that day was for cleaning up classrooms, saying goodbye to friends and having some fun.
More than 20,000 students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System finished up the school year Tuesday.
In teacher Patricia Waitsí third-grade classroom at North Rowan Elementary, where desks were pushed aside and candy was the hot topic of the afternoon, the day was bittersweet.
ěMy first year, I cried for hours after,î Waits said, recalling her first last day of school five years ago. ěI donít cry as much now.î
But she did give lots of hugs and goodbyes. Waits wonít see her 17 third-graders blossom as fourth-graders next school year. Sheís moving back to Tennessee to be closer to her family.
Some of Waitsí students said they would miss their teacher, who helped hone their math and reading skills throughout the year. Theyíll miss something else about her too.
ěShe gives us treats ó candy,î said 9-year-old Nikis Miller.
Some students said they will also miss each other the next few months. Shelby Maly, 8, talked about her last-day-of-school excitement after joining in at Field Day and cleaning up the classroom.
ěBut itís sad, ícause you have to say goodbye to your friends,î 8-year-old Shelby Myers said as she hugged Maly.
But the two Shelbys ó as theyíre known in class ó didnít seem worried about being bored this summer.
ěShe might come to my house or something,î Myers said.
Other students said they had big summer plans too.
ěIím going to go to the beach,î Miller said.
Victor Mendoza, 9, had something else in mind. ěIím going to go fishing,î he said.
But the day will come soon when students file back into North Rowan Elementary to start it all over again. Itís a prospect that some students said makes them nervous.
ěMy mama says itís going to be harder and harder,î said Tyre Mason, 9.
While Waits had to say farewell to her students for good, reading specialist Katie Linker will return next school year. That makes the summer break a little easier to bear.
ěMost of them, theyíre just going across the hall,î Linker said of the students.
But itís tough to see the fifth-graders go on to middle school when sheís been working with them since they were in kindergarten, Linker said.
Back in Waitsí classroom, she instructed her students to line up for dismissal. They ran toward her for a group hug.
ěOh, donít knock the teacher down,î Waits said.
She walked them to their buses, offering words of wisdom and good wishes along the way.
As students piled on the buses, teachers and staff stood near the main entrance to wave goodbye.
Some were sad. The students, who enthusiastically waved back, didnít seem so sad.
The last day of school is emotional for Angela Connolly, an assistant principal at North Rowan Elementary. She wiped away tears as the buses rolled away.
But the three-month break is important for educators, Connolly said. ěI think the summers are meant to recharge our batteries.î
Contact Sarah Nagem at 704-797-7683 or snagem@salisburypost.com.

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