School year comes to end in Eagle County |

School year comes to end in Eagle County

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyAvon Elementary School fifth-graders Rita Gutierrez, left, and Erin Petruccione wipe away tears while they listen to a speech during their fifth-grade continuation ceremony Wednesday in Avon.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The significance of the last day of school totally depends on who you ask.

Take the fifth grade boys and girls at Avon Elementary, dressed in full suits and ties and long, flowing dresses.

For them, the last day of school means a proper graduation ceremony with their parents and grandparents watching with video cameras and flowers, a celebration of making it to this important point of their school career and heading to middle school.

In the meantime ” summer is a very good thing indeed.

“This is excellent ” it feels good,” said fifth grader Daniel Ortiz, who will soon be a sixth grader at Berry Creek Middle School. “It’s finally over.”

It’s not surprising that most students seem equally excited, and the last day of school simply means freedom. Every one seems to be boiling over with energy, loud and goofy, a bit insane, ready for a summer full of video games, television and ” when they’re not sleeping until noon ” maybe some summer camp, sports, hiking and backpacking with families.

“Summer is awesome because you just get to hang out with your friends,” said Haivan Garcia, a student at Minturn Middle School.

The last day of school can also be sad, and a bit difficult. There are always those students who have a hard time leaving, and sometimes there can be a bit of tension on the last day of school, said teacher Innes Isom.

“They may not claim to love school, but that’s where they’re comfortable, and they enjoy themselves,” Isom said.

That’s why the last day of school at Minturn Middle is full of games. Everyone’s outside, running relay races, playing kickball and throwing Frisbees.

“School should end on a playful note ” it should be a celebration of all the good things you’ve done in a year,” Isom said.

Wednesday was Kari Bangston’s very first last-day of school as a teacher ” and it was a bit surreal, she said.

Bangston teaches science and math at Minturn Middle. She said it’s an almost indescribable feeling to see how all those children have grown and changed over a year ” especially if it’s your first time around as a teacher.

Middle school kids are all finding out who they are as people, while Bangston herself was discovering how she could stack up in her new job.

“It was definitely a learning experience for me ” it’s a test of patience and balancing home life and school,” Bangston said. “I look at these kids and see that they’re better people, and that I had some part in that is a pretty cool idea.”

Cindy Osborne said she cried on her first last-day of school years ago, but has grown more used to separating with her kids.

“It’s busy and exciting ” we’ve done so much good stuff, and have had so many good experiences, but it’s good to get a break,” Osborne said.

She takes the entire summer off and takes full advantage of it ” sort of the reward to devoting yourself 24/7 to teaching during the school year.

“I’ll go hiking, biking, see more of my friends ” I’ll be getting married soon,” Osborne said.

At Meadow Mountain Elementary, the three buses that pick up the children at the end of the day circle the parking lot three times as the teachers blow soapy bubbles and wave at the kids. The kids wave back out the windows, cheering and saying good-bye.

It’s a tradition started by Kathy Cummings, the principal. She’s been in education for 27 years, and seeing these kids off to the next chapter of their lives is something that never gets old, she said.

“Every day is different in education,” Cummings said. “Next year, we’ll have new kindergartners, all the kids will have new teachers, and we’ll all learn new things.”

Summer, for her and other teachers, is a time of rejuvenation, Cummings said.

It’s a time to relax and have fun, but not a day goes by during the summer where she doesn’t see one of her students, or even students of her former students ” and that’s why she loves living here, Cummings said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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