When noon struck on Tuesday, school bells rang at elementary schools all over the Island announcing that summer vacation had officially begun.

In Oak Bluffs, a speaker blared I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas and Celebration by Kool & The Gang while the kids blew bubbles and exchanged flowers, cards and hugs with their teachers.

Charlotte Potter, who teaches kindergarten through second grade, said that Tuesday was a day of big emotions.

“There were a lot of happy memories and some tears,” she said.

Bubbles and cheers at the Oak Bluffs School on the last day of school. — Hailey McLaughlin

At the Chilmark School, kids were serenaded with noise-makers and cries of congratulations by teachers and families.

In Edgartown, fourth-grader Sophia Periera said that when she woke up Tuesday morning she had forgotten it was the last day, thinking it just another ordinary day. But when she remembered, she was excited.

Sophia said her favorite activity of the year was watching a kickball game where students played against teachers.

“I learned a lot of things this year but the best thing I learned was to trust everybody and love everybody,” Sophia said.

For three principals it was also the last day as Megan Farrell in Oak Bluffs, Susan Stevens in Chilmark and Shelley Einbinder-Fleischmann in Edgartown are all retiring.

Retiring Chilmark School principal Susan Stevens helps celebrate. — Maria Thibodeau

Ms. Einbinder-Fleischmann stood outside the front entrance of the Edgartown School, waving to the kids and soaking in the moment.

“I feel honored to have been the principal of this school,” Ms. Einbinder-Fleischmann said. “It’s an amazing place with a wonderful staff and the best kids.”

Alicia Knight, a third grade teacher at the Edgartown School, said the last day always feels bittersweet. Next year Ms. Knight heads to Finland on sabbatical.

“It’s kind of bittersweet because you build relationships with the students and their families and watch them grow throughout the year and then you set them free,” Ms. Knight said.

Ms. Knight said she hopes her students will remember to be kind and take care of one another.

Edgartown students headed to the library for a cookout. — Ray Ewing

“We built a beautiful community in our classroom and the students formed many strong friendships,” Ms. Knight said.

In Chilmark, Ms. Stevens looked on as the children streamed out of the school, holding paper grocery bags to transport a years’ worth of learning miscellany: math tests, artworks, yearbooks. Many wore their peach-colored 2023–2024 Chilmark School T-shirts, and carried backpacks that sagged to the backs of their knees.

Ms. Stevens has led the school for 15 years, and has been an educator for 49 years. During her tenure at the Chilmark School, she saw the student body increase from less than 40 students to more than 70.

She said that even with that growth, the school has preserved its community spirit.

Edgartown principal Shelley Einbinder-Fleischmann says goodbye on her last day. — Ray Ewing

After school on Tuesday, the students headed to the jungle gym or soccer pitch, their parents keeping a gentle watch and thanking teachers for another year on the books.

“Look at us, we’re all here, hanging out,” Ms. Stevens said. “Even when the day ends, people stay.”

Teachers let loose with celebratory cries of “Susan Stevens! Susan Stevens!” in recognition of her career.

Like the students, Ms. Stevens was also reluctant to leave, holding on to her beaded gourd noisemaker.

“I have to give it up? No!” she cried.

More pictures.