CECIL COUNTY — A voice came over the intercom at Elkton Middle School at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, bidding adieu with, “Have a fun, safe and relaxing summer.”
Then a signal intoned, prompting hundreds of students to stream out of the school and make their way to buses lining the front lane and to nearby vehicles occupied by parents waiting to drive their youngsters home.
But there were plenty of pauses from Point A to Point B on this day, as pupils took time to hug and to shake hands with their friends and teachers.
That’s because, after 180 days of students and teachers seeing each other in school over the past nine months, the final bell on the last day of classes for Cecil County Public Schools had sounded and summer break had started.
“I’m going to play basketball this summer and get a job at Baskin Robbins,” said departing EMS eighth-grader Sistillo Popo, 14, who heads to high school next academic year, which doesn’t faze him. “I’m chill. I’m cool with it.”
One of Sistillo’s fellow exiting eight-graders, Cienna Rose, 13, is looking forward to spending some time in the great outdoors this summer, before she, too, starts the ninth grade.
“I’m going to go camping and hang out with all my friends,” Rose told the Cecil Whig.
Her friend, Alexis Swann, 13, plans to volunteer at the public library — the perfect place for her.
“I’m going to read this summer. I read a lot. I like fantasy, horror, you name it. I love to read,” Alexis said, before the Cecil Whig asked her if she planned any outdoor activities, such as swimming and hiking, and she responded, “I don’t like the outdoors.”
Departing EMS eight-grader Isaiah Daly, 14, said he is looking forward to spending time with his friends this summer, as well as a family vacation to South Carolina.
As for the prospect of starting high school in approximately three months, Isaiah commented, “I’m excited to be going to high school, but I’m going to miss this place.”
Meanwhile, the adults at North East Elementary School reflected on the past year and looked forward to summer plans.
In keeping with tradition, NEES teachers and staff lined the sidewalks and blew bubbles as students boarded buses that made two trips around the loop before leaving on the last day of school.
“School’s Out (for summer),” the end of year anthem made popular by Alice Cooper, blared over the speakers as students exited the building. Some stopped to hug teachers before boarding their bus.
Dawn Dorsett was laughing at a parting comment made by her students.
“They said ‘Have fun running in the hallways,’” Dorsett, a substitute teacher, reported as she waved to the parting yellow buses. “They think that’s what we do after they leave.”
Fourth-grade teachers Jerilyn Jones and Lisa Kerns looked relieved but also a little sad at the completion of the year.
“They were very inquisitive to say the least,” Jones said.
“I will miss the personality of my class,” Kerns added.
Joanna Timchula said she undoubtedly would miss her pre-K students.
“This has been such a wonderful group of children,” Timchula said “I enjoyed every minute with them.”
Once the children were onboard and the buses began to move, the song changed to a cover version of “Hit the Road Jack.”
Now it’s the parents’ turn to have the kids at home.
“I am excited,” said Latisha Banks, of North East. “We get to spend more time with them.”
Khadijah Chase came from Newark, Del., to get her children.
“I’m taking my kids to Florida,” Chase said.
For Tammy Grove, summer break means doing more of what she’s been doing with her grandchildren.
“We’ve been going to the beach every other weekend,” Grove said, adding now that the school year was over she may make more trips.
Paula Alexander waited in the pickup loop for her daughter Izzy, 7. Alexander said the break means “chilling and relaxing” and a trip to the ocean.
“If (Izzy) had her way she’d spend her whole summer at the ocean,” Alexander said.
There was another reason Grove was happy for the year to end, if only until September. She won’t miss the school pickup lane.
“I don’t have to sit here for an hour anymore,” she said.