The last day of school arrived for most Island elementary schools Tuesday, ringing in the start of summer.

The half-day dismissal brought celebrations and reflections from students, teachers and parents alike. Some were nervous about transitions, others thrilled for the end of homework and the start of beach time.

In Oak Bluffs, the last day was a blur of tropical prints and colorful leis. Instead of a school bell, dismissal was marked by the Beach Boys playing over a speaker.

Students at the Oak Bluffs school head out for the end of the school year. — Jeanna Shepard

“It was the best year ever,” said Chloe DeBettencourt, who finished third grade. “We played games, got to watch a movie today and played with each other a lot…. I love math; my favorite thing I learned was fractions. I think that’s what I’ll miss most: math and my teachers.”

Chloe’s classmate Ivy Korba agreed.

“It was my favorite year out of all the years.”

Students were not the only members of the community excited about the last day of school.

“I’m thrilled,” fourth grade teacher Liz McMahon said. “There was so much enthusiasm about the last day after the long weekend. And it has turned out to be such a wonderful day.”

Parents were grateful for this year’s return to normalcy after the pandemic.

“After Covid, the parents have been able to go back into the classroom and the kids seem to have so much more joy,” said Lianna Mattson, whose twin daughters, Scarlett and Lucy Parlos, finished first grade. Her third daughter, Melody, held her mother’s hand, studying the older children in anticipation of her own first year at the school in the fall.

As in Melody’s case, the end of the school year marks an important transition for many community members. Alicia Silva starts eighth grade in the fall.

“I think it’ll be pretty weird to be the oldest,” she said. “And I am nervous about having new teachers. I think things get pretty serious when you’re an eighth grader.”

This year was Fin Tiernan’s last at the Oak Bluffs School. He will begin seventh grade at Falmouth Academy, which is a big change for the Tiernans. Fin’s grandmother and great grandfather both attended Oak Bluffs School. But Fin says he is ready.

“I’m sad to go because I won’t be able to see the faces I’m used to seeing,” Fin said, “but I think it’ll be a good stepping point in my education.”

Edgartown School students celebrate the start of summer. — Ray Ewing

At the West Tisbury School, final day celebrations commenced with the traditional gathering of teachers and staff to shake tambourines, maracas and cowbells as students rode off for the final time.

At the Edgartown School, the soundtrack was a bit more rock and roll.

To the tune of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out for Summer, kids poured out of the school onto a sidewalk covered in pastel-colored chalk doodles of flowers, balloons and hopscotch boards.

“The best part of the year is just watching them — they are like little rosebuds,” said Denise Searle, a first-grade teacher at the school. “Then by the end, they’re all just blossoming and beautiful before the summer.”

Parents gathered a few minutes before, waiting to pick up their children and officially start summer vacation.

Krista Ryan, whose son Aidan is a rising fifth grader, said it was an awesome year.

“He started trombone this year,” she said. “They had the spring concert a few weeks back and that was just incredible.”

See you in the fall. — Ray Ewing

Students, either heading for the buses or searching for their parents, came out of the building enthusiastic and clearly ready for the upcoming season of summer camp and relaxation.

Two of Mrs. Searle’s first-grade students, Isabella Francis and McCabe Neadow, said their favorite subject this year was math.

Their favorite memory from the school year was Field Day because they got to bring home key chains. The best friends are excited for summer camp and field trips at the YMCA.

Kelly Neadow, McCabe’s mother, said her family was leaving the school year happy — with special thanks to Mrs. Searle.

“I feel like she just put in the time to build a beautiful relationship with my son and then that paid off for the whole school year,” Mrs. Neadow said.

Principal Shelley Einbinder looked back on her fourth year as the school’s principal fondly.

“It's a great school, and with the best students, staff and community support,” she said.

More photos.