I am reposting this article in honor of the last week of school.
I loved the last days of school. The final week celebrated the best elements of education without the needless distractions of books, lessons, or tests. Students spent the hours helping teachers prepare classrooms for summer break.
The boys carried armloads of textbooks to the storage closet. We embraced the manual labor as a badge of honor. After delivering the dusty tomes, we roamed the halls before reluctantly returning to class.
The girls washed the chalkboards and stripped the bulletin boards. All of us joined in dumping the year’s debris from our desks. We scrubbed the desktops until they gleamed.
Teachers sent trustworthy children outside unsupervised to clean the chalk erasers. We banged the felt pads against the building and scrubbed them on wire boxes. Clouds of white powder filled the air. No doubt the inhalation of chalk dust caused many of my generation’s ills.
The cafeteria closed early for its annual degreasing, and the school provided grab-bag lunches with mysterious contents. In the days before peanut allergies, they often served peanut butter and honey blended sandwiches—a terrible defilement of the traditional peanut butter and jelly classic.
When the last bell of the last class of the last day sounded, we erupted from the classrooms like escaping POWs. Whoops of joy resounded down the hallways by the teachers. Bursting through the exits, we exalted in our newfound freedom.
An endless summer stretched before us, enchanted with magical promise. Who knew what new adventures awaited us? Life stretched before us filled with limitless possibilities.
Sometimes I imagine that the final day of my life will feel like the last day of school.