On last day of school, Manatee students, staff ready for summer

Herald Staff WritersJune 9, 2014 

MANATEE -- Before the final bell rang at 2:10 p.m., Brittany Hasiak had already started to cry.

After three years at Johnson Middle School, Brittany was upset to leave all her friends behind on the last day of school before summer vacation.

"I've grown to love all of them," the 13-year-old said, wiping tears from her eyes.

But Brittany quickly looked on the bright side: She's looking forward to summer and starting classes at Southeast High School in the fall.

Monday marked the final day of the 2013-14 school year, and students across the county celebrated in a number of ways.

At Blackburn Elementary school, Josefina Guel was patiently waiting for her 7-year-old granddaughter, Ariel, to finish her last day of first grade. Guel is looking forward to taking Ariel on various summer trips, including days at the beach and Seaworld.

"We have a lot of things planned, it's going to be fun," Guel said.

Students at Bayshore High School were itching for the end of the day and summer vacation to start. Finals for the day ranged from band to math and from health classes to dance. After finals and an early release, the teenagers would be home free for the summer.

"Today's just having exams and not wanting to be here," said sophomore Donna Reed, with a quick laugh before heading to class. "I want to go back to sleep with my dog right now."

The day at Palmetto High School started off on a different step Monday. Three students, also members of Future Farmers of America, rode horses to school to celebrate the last day of school and the anniversary of the FFA club at the high school.

"Riding to school was a great way to end the school year," Bryce Anderson said in a statement.

Once school ended, it was a little more traditional, with students streaming out of the building onto buses and into cars, no horses in sight. For Palmetto students and cousins Linsay Keyt and Haylee Casey, the end of the day meant no longer being freshmen, the low men on the totem pole.

"We're not the fresh meat anymore," Linsay said before they both got on a bus to head home for summer vacation.

Both Linsay and Haylee are looking forward to sleeping in and doing "country stuff" over the summer, like fishing.

King Middle School students were on the same page as their older counterparts: They just couldn't wait for school to be over, summer vacation and, for the eighth-grade students, leaving for high school.

"They're trying to teach us today," said Alexis Dorrell, with some mischief. "Trying."

Like their fifth-grade counterparts, sixth- and seventh-graders would face off against the staff in a kickball game. Besides that, students said they'd probably just be relaxing or watching movies all day.

Palma Sola Elementary students showed a little more enthusiasm, walking up to school loaded with small presents and flowers for their teachers. There was a lot of excitement for the morning kickball game, with some students rooting for the fifth-graders and others rooting for staff.

Christian Burt, finishing third grade, said one of his favorite parts of the summer is visiting Disney.

"We'll probably go this year because we have annual tickets," he said.

But no matter what their grade, almost all students seemed ready for activities that involved cooling off.

"We have a pool at our house, so we'll probably be going every day," said Madison Burt, Christian's older sister in the fifth grade.

Superintendent Rick Mills, school board members Julie Aranibar and Karen Carpenter and employees at the Matzke Complex gathered at Matzke bright and early at 6 a.m. Monday, kicking off the last day of school by seeing bus drivers off.

"It's really important that we recognize our drivers, because they keep our children safe from the beginning of the day to the end of the day," Carpenter said, holding up a glowing bouncy ball and a large "Thank you" sign at passing bus drivers. "It's important for kids to start their day right and end their day right."

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney

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