On the Last Day of School

I had one last duty—lunch duty on the patio, probably my most favorite duty in twenty-one years of teaching. Outside, in the shade, with a breeze, I guarded the gate from student escapes prior to the state-mandated dismissal time. Even though the students had taken their last exams, they had to stick around for lunch by law, so I took my chicken sandwich outside and sat alone at a long table—to monitor the gate with my eyes and presence.

Students trickled through the glass doors from the building at 12:05. Two boys sat three tables over and behind me and played video games on hand-held devices. A girl sat one table over to my right and waited for her friends. We made eye contact. I didn’t know her, but I knew she would be my student one day, so I said, “You did it. How do you feel?”  

“It’s bittersweet,” she said.

I nodded my head in a knowing way. My students graduated the week before. Their finals and last classes the week before that. So, speaking of bittersweet, I had been doing a whole lot of nothing. Thumb twiddling. Some planning. Some online trainings. Not to mention those days I had COVID. School without students is not necessarily fun. I would rather teach any day, and now my students are off to do amazing things at amazing places. Next year will be another fresh start. New students. Some different literature. Another chance to do things better. Truth—year after year.

Friends joined the girl. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. They posed for selfies and cussed a bit and cracked each other up and hugged one another hard. Some ate lunch. No one tried to escape. They were happy for the upcoming summer and to be among friends. Aren’t we all?

This year has been wild, not as in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail wild, but as in surviving my first-year teaching seniors at a performing arts high school wild. Today it’s over for now, my last day of year twenty-one, reading a book and taking selfies, a bittersweet but happy start to summer.

49 thoughts on “On the Last Day of School

  1. Congratulations on finishing your 1st year teaching seniors and surviving the tail end of Covid. I hope we do not have to go through that again. I still have to wear a mask where I tutor. I know what that feeling is like the last day of school. But, let’s be honest I miss teaching big time. I tutor but it isn’t the same. And I don’t get to tutor Social Studies. I tutor reading, writing, the part of the SAT and ACT that is verbal. I only get to do Social Studies if someone brings it in for homework. I also do not like teaching pre-K, Kindergarteners, and some 1st graders. I really like working with 6-12th graders. Anyway, congratulations!!!


    1. Hi Shay! Thank you! So happy you have the tutoring gig, but I know it’s not the same. When Lauren was a first grader, I was her Brownie leader. I get it. That was a tough age for me, especially when being outnumbered. It’s always nice of you stop by for a visit, and I hope you’re well. Take care, my friend!


  2. Bittersweet, one of my favorite words. For a young person to know such a concept is beautiful, for in truthfulness the world will always be bittersweet in experience.


  3. It is always good to stop and take stock Crystal, both as the student and as the teacher. Glad you had that time for observation and contemplation. Congrats on completing the first year. Allan


  4. “Bittersweet” is a good word, though that emotion’s full impact won’t be realized until the student is ready to take flight years from now. The first steps into the adult world, glistening with potential, yet leaving her friends a continent (or more) away – that’s when she’ll appreciate her word’s true profundity.

    As for you, here’s to a long stretch of slumber independent of the radio alarm, although cheerful birds and 5:07AM sunrises may have other plans! 🐦


    1. Profundity! Another great word! I realize this morning that my home is quite soundproof of the cheerful birds. Sometimes I hear squirrels skittering across the roof, and of course the AC, and then there is Drew. Still, the opportunity to linger in bed makes it feel like vacation.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Today’s adventure began at the dentist. Later today…the eye doctor. 😂 Seriously…happy to have the time for these things, and I appreciate you for reading!


  5. Thank you for sharing!.. congratulations on helping those young people find their path as they follow their dreams.. no doubt they will take a part of you with them to visit from time to time!.. 🙂

    Hope you are able to follow your dream, have a wonderful summer and until we meet again..
    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    May green be the grass you walk on
    May blue be the skies above you
    May pure be the joys that surround you
    May true be the hearts that love you.
    (Irish Saying)


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