The final bell of the school year at Riverbend Elementary and others across the county brought with it hoards of squealing students, excited for summer vacation.
Pedro and Melissa Zepeda, both going into the second grade, said they were going to miss their teachers and friends but were looking forward to going to the park and swimming.
"I'm going to miss Ms. K," Melissa Zepeda said of one of her teachers. "But I want to go to the park and play with water balloons."
As always, Principal Debra Smith said, the end of the year is bittersweet as the faculty says goodbye to its graduating fifth-graders.
"It's special to me because the group I'm with, I've been with them since kindergarten," said Christie Langford, a special education paraprofessional at Riverbend.
Smith said the last day of school was busier than usual, beginning with a fifth-grade graduation in the morning, a kindergarten graduation at lunchtime and ending with meetings.
"It went great, but it was nonstop," she said. "It was probably the most challenging end of school for me."
Part of the challenge comes from Riverbend only having a brief summer.
"For the first time, we're having a one-month
summer school," Smith said. "We have a week off after post-planning and then we've got 100 kids coming in."
She said students who performed poorly on standardized tests will also be coming back during the post-planning period to re-take the exams.
Riverbend faculty will be in school during the summer as well, as Smith said there is lots of technology, blended learning and science training going on to help Hall County in its Race to the Top program.
Preparations will also be made for the new Advanced Scholars Academy at Riverbend. Smith said she was looking forward to helping Hall County become more immersed in in-the-classroom technology and advanced programs.
"It's going to be a whole new ballgame for Riverbend," Smith said. "We'll have basically two schools here next year."
Friday marked the last day for schools in the Hall County system, but Gainesville City Schools ends Tuesday. May 22 and 23 were added back to the calendar after the January snowstorm.