The last day of school on the Island finally arrived Monday, with a half-day dismissal signaling the official start of summer for Vineyard students. Cheers and tears led the way at the elementary schools with kids, teacher, parents, crossing guards, bus drivers and more experiencing a rainbow of emotions as homework and pop quizzes gave way to beach time and barefoot wandering.

Among the Oak Bluffs students’ favorite activities, they said, was Field Day, walks to Niantic Park and endless games of Spikeball at recess (which, students confirmed, will no doubt carry into the summer months). Spending time with friends and traveling to the beach also rank high on summer to-do lists.

Tisbury school students are sent off with ribbons and bubble spray. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Several students recounted the most interesting things they had learned this year, from multiplication to the different animals that pollinate flowers. Peter Argie said that “learning about George Washington and the Revolutionary War” was the year’s highlight. Another erudite student, second grader Spencer Blau, noted that “remainders in long division” was the coolest thing he’d learned this year.

Many Oak Bluffs teachers said the year marked a return to normalcy.

“Once we lost the masks, we were definitely able to have a lot more fun,” said Hannah Vanderlaske, a teacher at the Oak Bluffs School. The call to drop mask requirements was made about halfway through the year, Ms. Vanderlaske explained, and it allowed a shift back to pre-pandemic norms.

When it was time for the buses to roll out, drivers leaned on their horns and students called out farewells to teachers and friends.

At the West Tisbury School the final day celebration was loud. After the bell rang, a crowd of teachers and staff greeted the exiting students with a mix of trumpets, tambourines, maracas and cowbells. Leading the musical tradition was Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, the principal of the school.

Waving goodbye at the Oak Bluffs School. — Ray Ewing

“Every year we come out and play music for [the kids],” Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said. “We serenade them off into the summer.”

Parents were invited to classrooms to see their child’s artwork and writing, and third-grade teacher Lauren Serpa hosted a breakfast event, where her students shared a range of their writing, including original poetry.

“It illustrated student growth from the beginning to the end of the year” Ms. Serpa said. “It was a wonderful way for parents to see their work up close after the pandemic.”

According to Graham Houghton, a student support coordinator for the middle school, the last day tradition was a welcome reminder of how far everyone had come.

“This was the third hard year in a row for students,” Mr. Houghton said. “And I would say the kids are doing pretty good coming out the other side.”

At the Tisbury School, a few dozen parents gathered on chalk-decorated concrete, waiting for their Tisbury Tigers.

Until we meet again. — Ray Ewing

“This year meant a lot, it being the first full year without Covid,” said Pricila Vilaca, a Vineyard Haven resident waiting to pick up her two kids.

Nancy Merriman, whose son is a first grader, added that the students seemed undaunted by next year’s challenges as renovations on the school begin.

“I think the kids are actually excited for the trailers,” she said, referencing the modular classrooms. “But these kids are so resilient, they just go with the flow.”

A few minutes after noon the bell rang and the first and second graders roared out from the double doors, flanked by two teachers, each aiming bubble shooters into the air. At the other door on the left, two more teachers held up a student-decorated summer banner while a gaggle of kindergarteners ran out.

Principal John Custer gave out hugs and fist bumps.

“Selfishly, I am always sad at the end of the year, because I really miss the kids,” he said. “It gets quiet here over the summer.”

The energy continued to be frenetic as the recently released students ran to their parents or to the adjoining playground.

Crossing guard Cheryl Pinkham closed out the year for those kids whose parents parked in the lot across the street.

“Have a good summer and I’ll see you next year,” she said.

More pictures.