Right up to the last minute on the last day of school, Cherie Farinola was teaching.
“Touch your ears so you can hear me,” she instructed her kindergartners at Lawrence Elementary School in Wichita, where the students lined up next to backpacks, treat bags and flowers planted in plastic cups.
“After you find your parents, you may get in line and get one cookie,” Farinola said. “But only one because we want to make sure there’s enough for everyone, right?”
Thursday was the last day of school for about 51,000 Wichita students. Celebrations across the district included ice cream parties, talent shows, yearbook signings, graduation ceremonies and plenty of hugs and good wishes.
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“It’s been exciting,” said Amy Hungria, principal at Hadley Middle School, near 11th and West streets. “Full of all kinds of fun stuff.”
Hadley eighth-graders marked the end of their middle-school years with a celebration Thursday morning. In the afternoon, eighth-grader Misty Layland played piano and sang the Imagine Dragons song “Demons” during a schoolwide talent show, nodding bashfully as the audience cheered.
Earlier in the day, students and teachers at Franklin Elementary in Wichita’s Delano neighborhood enjoyed Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches donated by a corporate sponsor. Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet students played in the fountains in Riverside Park.
And at White Elementary in south Wichita, teachers showered students with Silly String as they left for summer break.
Back at Lawrence Elementary, near Maple and West Street, 6-year-old Lily Ramirez posed for photos, her Hello Kitty backpack adorned with balloons that said, “Congrats, Grad!”
“She had a good year,” said Lily’s mother, Heidi Ramirez.
So she’s ready for first grade?
Lily shrugged and smiled. One thing at a time, she probably thought. And the next thing is summer break.