Last day of school full of laughter, tears for Rowan County students, teachers and parents

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2018

SALISBURY — Friday was a day of laughter, tears and celebration. As the last day of school dawned, teachers and students danced, sang, cried and traded last-minute hugs before summer break began.

Some celebrations began early. As high schools wrapped up exams Wednesday, many students found themselves boarding a bus for the last time. But at West Rowan, students got a proper send-off. For several years, environmental sciences teacher Durwood Bynum has made a habit of waving, cheering and dancing in the parking lot as buses pull out.

On Wednesday, he shouted encouragements, hurried students onto buses, and then broke into a rhythmless but joyful dance on the grass as each bus left the parking lot. Students waved at Bynum and yelled goodbye, some leaning out windows to snag a high-five while “Hit the Road, Jack” blasted from a speaker in the background.

On Friday, students at China Grove Elementary laughed and danced in water raining down from a firetruck on the official last day of school. The school’s tradition of holding field day to end the school year helps boost attendance, Principal Lea Ann Thomas said, and also helps break the heat of hot June days.

“It just gives the kids a chance to be outside and be active,” Thomas said.

While kids played tug of war, ran relays and worked a parachute on one end of the school, the China Grove Fire Department set up on the other. A single cherry-red truck pulled up next to the school, hooked up to a nearby fire hydrant and let the water rain down from a ladder shower head.

As students raced in and out of the spray, sometimes a group of them would converge on a teacher with damp, dripping hugs.

“We’re having a great last day,” Thomas said.

The China Grove community also came out to bid students farewell, with the local PTA providing snacks and community members making SnoCones for each student.

But for some, Friday was bittersweet. Fifth-graders at Bostian Elementary wiped away tears as they bid goodbye to the school that had been their home and teachers who’d become family. In a goodbye speech, student body president Cohen Wilson said his six years at Bostian had gone too quickly.

“But when you have a good time, it flies.”

Cohen also tipped his hat to the school’s faculty.

“Thank you,” he said, “to the teachers who have helped shape us into the people we are now.”

Even Principal Lisa Sigmon fought back tears as she spoke.

“This is a prime example of where you’re very happy because you’re getting ready to take the next step in life but you’re sad because a door is closing,” she told students.

The fifth-graders sang a song to say farewell to their school then were treated to a serenade by kindergartners.

“Goodbye, my friends — it’s time to be moving along,” the children sang.

While parents and students wiped away eyes, Sigmon made sure fifth-graders understood that they were welcome back any time and said they’d better be sure to visit. She reminded them that life is a journey, not a race, and encouraged them not to be afraid of their next steps.

“I know you’re ready,” she said. “We wouldn’t send you if you weren’t ready.”

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.