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Sundaes and sadness mark end of school

ONECO — They’d never done it before.

But the 16 Oneco Elementary kindergartners from Matt Norvell’s class decided to make the journey late Thursday morning.

Although it was the last day of the school year, the class had never been upstairs in their school off State Road 70. So at their teacher’s instruction, the youngsters walked out of their room toward a staircase, and one by one, ascended.

“Wow,” said 6-year-old Alexis Perez-Vasquez, his eyes as big as saucers. The boy grabbed onto a handrail, took his first step up, then giggled.

It was an adventure for the last day of school, usually a time to wind down for teachers and students, said Norvell, one of 53 teachers at the school. No matter the grade level, studying is finished and grading is over.

So are the FCATs.

A typical day for kindergartners involves singing songs, writing, drawing and crafts, Norvell said. But on their last day, he planned a special treat for his students.

The kindergartners’ trek to the second floor was all part of a Sundae Adventure.

Their destination: Unknown. Their mission: Unknown.

But the end result, Norvell hinted, would be yummy.

Stop one: their classroom door where they were handed a bowl and spoon.

Stop two: a third-grade classroom upstairs for a brownie.

Stop three: the school office for marshmallows.

Stop four: the library for whipped cream and sprinkles.

Final destination: a set of picnic tables outside for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

As his students ate and licked lips, Norvell reminisced on the school year and the start of summer.

“It’s nuts,” he said. “They don’t know summer vacation because they have never had one. Whereas the upper kids are ecstatic about it.”

Alexis said he is sad to leave school and that he will miss Norvell.

“He’s nice to me,” the boy said.

He said his teacher even showed him how to do a secret handshake.

The boy made a fist, bumped it against another closed fist, then opened his palm wide like it was exploding.

But then there are older students including 11-year-old Gloria Waterhouse.

On her last day Thursday, she said she was ready for the school year to be over.

“I’m excited because I’m going to camp this summer . . . I’ll get to horseback ride,” the fifth-grade girl said.

Gloria’s classmate, Layla Brigonini, said she didn’t get much of a summer vacation because she is participating in summer school.

Oneco Elementary principal Marian Summers said that about 300 of her 730 students will return to school on Monday for its “21st Century Program,” which runs through July 3.

Fourth-grade teacher Andrea Kirchoff said the end of the school year draws laughter for some teachers, including herself.

A typical day for her class includes reading, math and social studies. But as the year came to a close, on one day this week, she provided a few activities including Slip and Slide for her students.

On Tuesday, her students wrote her a letter that read, “Ms. Kirchoff, why have you been so nice to us?”

Her response? She shook her head and giggled.

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