#6 The last day of school

My friend Jason had a tradition.

Every year on the last day of school he’d stop on the bridge over the creek on his walk home, pop open all his three-hole binders, and dump and shake all his pen-scrawled notes and sticker-covered tests into the bubbling rapids below. Somehow the sight of the sheets soaking up and smearing the ink and then drowning and drifting away gave him the therapeutic closure he needed before summer officially began.

Although we didn’t all celebrate by polluting local waterways, the day always had so much meaning.

I don’t know about you but our school board didn’t spring for air-conditioning, figuring we could make it through a few hot weeks before summer break. So as the cold winter thawed into muggy summer days, the heat just sank and stank, despite pleading windows propped open with dog-eared textbooks and plastic yellow rulers.

As that last day approached, a certain smell drifted from all the backpacks, lockers, and gym closets, too. It was a musty combination of dodgeball rubber, cheap floor polish, and acne medication, complemented by a fine sprinkling of locker mold.

But that heat sure did bring some excitement, too.

Calendar days flipped by and teachers taught with a little more pep, homework assignments got lighter, and projects deadlines came and went. Tank tops came out as flip-flops clip-clopped up and down the hallway — with everybody locking eyes, smiling big smiles, and waiting patiently for that beautiful last day to finally come.

And then one day … it did.

And it sure whipped by in a whirlwind.

Maybe your teacher brought a batch of homemade brownies in a heavy glass tray and everybody sliced a square with a plastic knife while passing around yearbooks and watching a movie with no educational value whatsoever.

Maybe you wrote exams early so half the class skipped while the rest come for board games, Students vs. Teachers baseball, or just to collect report cards.

Maybe you were graduating and spent the afternoon kicking pebbles in the parking lot while chatting about all the moments you were going to miss as you moved on. There was your first cigarette, The Tuba Incident, and the hallway drama of prom season.

Making plans for pool parties, summer birthdays, and sleeping in every morning gives you a great rush and as you walk home with that pen-scratched yearbook in your light and baggy backpack, you curl your lips into a tight smile and stare way off into the distances… thinking tall thoughts … and dreaming big dreams … to fill those beautifully wide open spaces.


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Photos from: here, here, here, and here

110 thoughts on “#6 The last day of school

  1. Oh goodness, the last day of school is MAGICAL. Maybe the best day of the year, really. It’s the peak of your freedom, the whole summer lies ahead of you! It’s the best, too, when you’re too young to work, because summer means non-stop playtime. Oh sure, it’s still great even if you’re working a job over the summer because you’re getting paid for putting in your time there, but nothing beats those youthful summer days.

    P.S. Teacher secret: we are more excited about summers than students are! :D

    1. I had to call the police on a student today…good times. When is it May again?

      BTW, where have you been??? *my foot is tapping in case you’re wondering*

      1. Yikes! I hope everyone was ok! Time to start the countdown until you can send all those kids away for the summer so that someone else can deal with those rug rats!

        1. Thanks guys. Everyone was fine sans arrested student.

          Look at all us regulars camping out at midnight. I have to be up at 5am but I couldn’t resist!

          1. Same here! I can handle some light exhaustion in return for the awesome comment exchanges with my favorite internet peeps!

            1. Well, it’s only 9:00pm here, so I’m not quite as hardcore as you guys.. but still wanted to check in! We’re so close to the end! AHHHH!!!!

      2. OMG. That’s disturbing! Hope everything / everyone is ok.

        And I’ve been hibernating in a cocoon of sadness over the end of the blog. ;) Don’t worry, I got all caught up tonight over the span of like four hours of comment-reading, comment-writing, and a roller coaster of emotions!

  2. I miss the last days of school! i remember my last day of year six. we all did nothing while we got to walk around and get everyone sign our grad books. but funny enough even though it was way more recent, i don’t really remember much of my last day of year 12. maybe because we still had to come back for exams and then again to sign out.
    oh well…. memories are such awesome things! :)

    1. Good job, Freddo. It’s like she’s here with us. ;)

      ALSO, I see you’ve stepped up your commenting game, going for the late night comment! See, this is how you beat jdurley to a tick. One can only hope for another before the end …

      1. I know, right? Look at me rolling it at 9:22 EST, and there’s amost 50 comments on this post already! (Nice to see you back, Laura! Hopefully I’ll get time later today to go back and read your comments to the other posts!)

      1. Start at the 0:45s mark.. that’s the only part of the song I really know! :)

        As for Wendy – Bekah caught up with her a few weeks back, and she’s off doing some non-profit work with her hubby that sounded pretty cool!

  3. Last day of school, otherwise known as “Muck Up” day. Wear your clothes inside out, put detergent in the fountain, turn everything in the classroom upside down… Oh yeah, those were the days.

  4. I don’t know about you guys but our teachers always made us clean up the classroom towards the end.

    Tonight was the 1st time I cried about the blog coming to an end. I had a horrific day (see above) and when I finally got home from my 2nd job I thought, “Hey, I wonder if Neil’s updated?” I immediately felt sad. I’ll no longer have this as my go-to pick-me-upper. I’m going to miss you all so much! If we’re being honest, you all have been a hge part of my life these past three years. I have a TON of friends and I love them all but this has been the one, 100% positive experience in my life. Where else can you find a group of people who are never negative? (I ignore the trolls) I’m always finding my own awesomeness in the little things daily like when there’s no traffic when there’s usually a ton or when my dog doesn’t have to pee at 6AM or when I win the imaginary but very importnat race to finish my self checkout before someone else.

    I’m sure I’ll find new internet friends and things to bring a little smile to my face, but the thing is, I don’t want to. I want you.

    1. Then let’s do something about it… Maybe create a private facebook page or group or something that can keep everyone in contact.

      You could even start up a journal or write on your calendar your own awesome things and experiences… I don’t know, just brainstorming here :)

    2. And you have been a huge part of ours! I know exactly how you feel. Of course we’ll all survive, but there will certainly be something missing for a while. I know it was mentioned a while back, but I’m still totally in favor of some sort of forum for communication / discussions / reminiscing, etc. for after this is over. Just a thought! :)

      1. I’m with all of you guys! Let’s find a way to keep this 1000awesomethings.com love-fest going! It’d be way too sad if our fun community had to come to an end after post #1!

        Other than the thoughts above, my only other idea was to find another daily-updating-very-positive-and-optimistic blog, and just parachute our entire little group over there to keep the commenting going..

          1. If you see my reply to trixie down the bottom I was trying to think of a way we could all keep commenting too! … I even mentioned it in pasts posts but no one payed any attention… So I am at a loss right now. But being part journo part communications officer part muso part artist part reviewer… I can do some research and see what I can come up with :)

            1. Thank you, that’d be great! As to us not paying attention earlier, we were probably in denial that this was really ending, and couldn’t face the reality yet! Sorry about that!

              1. I haven’t found much yet, but from memory there’s a blog called I Found Money Today and it’s pretty fantastic and inspiring. This guy, who comments on here regularly, places money in random places for people to find. He’s actually been nominated for a webby award and a guy in Singapore became inspired by his blog and started up his own “I Found Money Today” movement! http://ifoundmoneytoday.wordpress.com

              2. I’m tempted to create my own… “One Photo A Day”… I’d just have to get my butt into gear and follow through the project. Hopefully Neil’s no.1 Awesome Post is that 1000 Awesome Things will continue!

                  1. I think I’d rather start a facebook group for all of us- I really like that idea!! I commented on the previous post about maybe becoming friends, but with the facebook group we could still talk together! (those that have fb)

                    1. AWE~ Thanks for the songs, Freddo and Magda:) As for last day of school, I don’t believe in them. I want to learn eternally…
                      As for face book, I would not even say yes for anyone else but all of you and that is the honest to God truth! Especially since “they” won’t let my avatar and therefor me to subscribe here anymore.
                      kind of reminded me of this…


                      My hubby told me about these comments. Could say I’m kinda cheeky eh, here till #1 and beyond if you’ll keep me posted, ok! Around the work, will do my best~xoz

  5. The last days of high school and college were both exciting and depressing for me. You remember all the good times, then realize that there’s a chance that you’ll never see any of your classmates again.

    Luckily, they invented Facebook a few years back, but I wish I had it when I was growing up. It would’ve made socializing so much easier.

    1. Yeah, my parents used to tell me that before these social networking sites, graduating from school or college meant never seeing your friends again! I thinknour generation is therefore quite lucky!

  6. Ohh, I miss celebrating the last day of each school year. University-last-days just aren’t the same…

    But was I the only one who looked forward to the FIRST days of school? Not the actual schooling and educating and such things (I didn’t want to give away my freedom any more than the next kid), but the PREPARATION for school was always so much fun!

    Buying a new pack of textas because the red one in your old pack has run out of ink.

    Going to three different newsagents because you want the textbook with the pretty cover.

    Watching Mum slowly go insane as I try on school shoes, offering the exact same response every time she asks how they fit: “I dunno.”

    Ahhh, nostalgia. :D

    1. Laying out your super-duper-extra-cool outfit on your bed the night before, so you knew that you were going to be able to look your absolute best on that first day back!

      (I hope that wasn’t just me!)

    2. I loved “back-to-school”! It was the only time of year that our family got to go shopping and stock up on brand new items. That annual trip to K-mart was pretty exciting. New outfit? check. New binders? check. Package of 3-ring binder paper? check. Pens? Pencils? Scientific calculator? check. check. check. Sigh…those were good times.

      Also, the geek in me really, really loved having fresh, clean notebooks full of promise, and empty of mistakes.

  7. Hands down the best day ever! One of the many reasons I want to be a teacher, I will get to experience the last day of school every year until I retire! Awesome!

  8. I love how everyone is rushing on at midnight to post now! It’s very cool and heartwarming knowing we’re all in the same place at the same time reading the same things. :) HI everyone!

        1. LMAO! So, it’s a Nutella-1000AwesomeThings celebration at your place! Woohoo! I’m gonna need some help transporting all of these loot bags to Freddo’s.

    1. btw: This post is the 43rd comment so far, and it’s not even 1:00 am EDT yet! (that’s got to be a record..)

      I think we’re all pretty amped up about nearing the end.

      1. 12pm out West! Although I have been staying with a friend at my grandparents’ these past three days so I haven’t been able to really spend the time I normally do on here :/ Haha Wednesday night, I checked my email: my God, I had 146 unread messages, most of which were notifications of comments on tuesday’s post :S Took me about an hour just to open and skim through each message!

  9. I just wrote the 2nd LAST final in my undergrad today – my prof brought us all homemade cookies and passed them out during the exam :) He’s truely AWESOME and although the course is not super easy, i’ll miss it dearly.

    P.S. I had my last day of undergrad last week and it was an amazing celebration with friends who laughed and cried together throughout the years. So much love!

  10. With so many here and with a post about saying goodbye to friends, now seems like a good time to say how much I appreciate all of the wonderful folks who populate this forum. You’ve all added so much to my enjoyment of this place! Sure, Neil’s prose adds delicious sweetness to my days, but you all are the whipped cream and cherry on Neil’s ice cream posts! Reading your witty, heartfelt, moving, sarcastic, and hilarious comments has elevated the entire experience for me. Thank you all for allowing me to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with you all and welcoming me into the comments section! You’re all tangled up in Awesome for me and always will be!

    1. P.S. Forgot to mention, the classic last panel of Calvin & Hobbes…PERFECT! B-E-S-T C-A-R-T-O-O-N ever on the B-E-S-T B-L-O-G ever! :) Now I’m crying again.

      1. Agreed, to both parts of that. Despite only commenting here for the first time yesterday, I was reading the comments for ages before that. You are all wonderful, hilarious, and a whole big pile of AWESOME!

      2. I didn’t realize… that was the last panel of Calvin &Hobbes?? Sooo perfect!! We love to quote Calvin & Hobbes at our house…
        “What? No smooch? No bed time story????”

  11. Ah, last days of school. Excellent stuff. Get out of class, go home, and play video games. Law school is similar to this: get out of final, get smashed, eventually go home and play video games.

  12. WHOA, lots of midnight posts! Sorry I’m not one of them – I need my sleep!

    Ah, the last day of school. That’s what students live for – field day events, student bs. Teacher sports games (always basketball for me) and more importantly, that final bell that means months of freedom ahead….

  13. My comment box is messing up today, so I hope this goes through.
    In high school it was me and 3 other girls who had this tradition of getting on a public bus and riding to the mall on the last day of school and we would dress up. We mix matched our clothes. One year we wore capes. But the last year it was just me and my bff heading out to the mall on the last day. We sort of had a falling out with the other girls right before school was over.
    Our school was real close to a river and the seniors use to go jump in the riveer on the last day of school, but the class before me was the last ones to do it….we got a new principal who wouldn’t allow it.

    1. Wait a sec. If you’re seniors, and it’s the last day of school…who cares what the principal will or will not “allow”. Is the whole river on school property?

      Also, I love that you went to the mall wearing capes. that is awesome.

    2. But you were graduating seniors. We would’ve done it anyway. It’s not like they could’ve held you back. We always did cut days to lake for our last days.

      1. Besides the thoughtful songs, of all the catching up I just did Sunday, this comment, jdurley, really got me! Besides Firemen and the Beatles, when I was little, Mr. Dress-Up and The Friendly Giant were my saviors! I saw the banner in a different light, Elton John’s song, “Don’t let the sun go down on me”… I may have to cry me a river b/c I also thought about this:(

  14. Alas, I am not one of those who stays up late or gets up early to post at midnight, but I have read every post to date and look forward to #1 with mixed emotions.
    trixierix really nailed it when she said this is “a group of people who are never negative? (I ignore the trolls)”. Ignoring the trolls is a great way to go through life – bad things do happen but concentrate and remember the good ones.
    I also teach at a local college as a second job, and I am looking forward to the last day as much as everyone., That last day will be good, next week’s last day of 1000’s of awesome things will be bittersweet.

  15. last day of school was always memorable coz for us it marked the end of exams
    we would stop by a park would play till every 1 of us was tired
    thanx niel

  16. AH~ I can’t reply to anyones comment!!
    Trixierix and everyone on that comment block-yes, we should do something like a private facebook page. I don’t have a facebook, but I would for this occasion.
    jdurley- Capes are always awesome!! And if anyone jumped in, we couldn’t walkt the stage at graduation. The ones that didn’t want to walk still jumped in!
    Freddo- thanks for posting that video for Wendy, I’m sure she’ll love it
    Laura- In my high school, more teachers skipped thelast day than students!
    lovethebadguy-back to school shopping was always my favorite and I found it hard to be able to fall asleep the night before the first day because I was so excited!
    Everyone up doing late night posts- I can’t believe there were so many comments when I got on here this morning! There’s usually only a few, but wow, guys!

  17. I only want to say that I think this might be the best blog so far and how much I can relate to this, not that I never going to have this feeling again. I am graduating from high school this year, my very last day being next week’s Thursday and I’ll take my first exam on Saturday and then it’ll be after mid-May until the date of my fifth (oral) exam arrives. It’s nothing like it used to be… everybody is being busily preparing for the tests, it’s utterly cold and rainy and our teachers figured that there’s no use in doing any real classes now. School isn’t even over yet but I know that it won’t be the way it used to be on University next year. From now on there won’t be real vacations. I’ll never not want to not go back to school and yet there won’t be safety of returning after summer. Instead I will (hopefully) end up attending university in some strange city, doing what I like and I do look forward to it but… it’s still going to be different and I miss everything else already.

  18. I love that last panel from Calvin and Hobbes! It’s so beautiful and bittersweet…mostly sweet really. Great addition.

  19. *The heat just sank and stank*
    In our beautiful country Canada “The Heat” isn’t supposed to sink or stink. It’s supposed to rise with the powerful sent of pine trees, freshly tilled soil, and ocean breezes. That’s what the heat is supposed to be doing! :)

  20. The last day is always bittersweet. Like lemonade [albeit rather sour lemonade]. But before leaving everyone for that adventurous stretch of sunny bliss, you all just sit there for a bit, recounting good days during the school years, laughing at old jokes, sighing at the new freedom…

    …and realizing how far you came as friends and as a united class.

  21. YES!!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this one, and it’s finally turned up as #6!!!
    I love the last day of school. I have a tradition of burning my vocabulary books……

    Thanks you for posting this, it made my life.

  22. I love this! Only in high school the last day is always exams. But it is awesome when they are finally done!

  23. From numbum 44 Just spoke with Wendy and she really does miss you all.She keeps saying they wont let her back on. But wait , she revvin up right now. Anyways back in grade 7 me and the boys used to smoke under the school in with the spiders and stuff, then about a month or so before school got out , well a crazy thing happened . The school burnt right down. I remember it was evening and a bunch of went down to cheer on the fire…Well we all got 3 months off that year.Everybody knows smokin aint allowed in school.True Story A.

  24. For me, I think it will be the best last day ever. 6 more days till I am finished my degree. I will be the first to admit this will not be my last day of school ever. But it’s the last for a while, and that makes it awesome.

  25. I love the last strip of Calvin & Hobbes. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. I love it. So much that I had to make it my desktop background.

  26. I still have a looong way to go… My last day is at the start of December! And I don’t know about anyone else, but I was shocked that Neil’s friend just… threw out… all his notes… into the river… It just goes against my nature! I keep all my books and notes. What if you needed to check some information you remembered you researched, only to find you threw it out? What if the teacher asked you to bring in that assignment or booklet you were given last year, and you had to tell them you threw it out? I disapprove, but I’ll move on….
    At our school we only get the yearbooks in the second/third week of school the NEXT year! Although the school buzzes with everyone sneaking peeks at school photos during maths, people walking round and sitting down with the books in their hands trying to find photos of their group at lunchtime, or trying to spot themselves in that school excursion photo. It’s all about the photos, friends.
    Last year in our last English lesson of the year we had a party, with each person bringing in food for their table and we sat and ate and talked and watched “The Nativity”, a very cheesey/annoying movie about an overly dramatised nativity play. I made my awesome red caramel popcorn, and the teacher kept coming back to our table for more! This year term 1 last day of school our choir spent period 1 practising in the hall for the Easter liturgy, then period 2 was year 8s and 11s liturgy, period 3 was year 9s and 10s liturgy, then period 4 was year 12s liturgy. The only period I ended up going to was period 5, and that was my much-talked-about-here English Lit Pride and Prejudice tea party :D So a day well-spent.
    Year 12s, on their last day, have their graduation breakfast, then muck up day (all before school starts)- I’m not really sure what they do, but it’s much more controlled at my school than the main public school here. A couple years ago, the year 12s there slashed teachers’ car tyres and the retic system and caused like $9000 damage. So that was a very bad muck up day. But yeah! At BCC for graduation, year 12s get to go on a scavenger hunt around town that the students organise and you have to try and collect things or take photos of you doing fun things, and you get points for them. I had a friend who had to go into the old abandoned hospital, but apparently another group got chased by drug dealers so they didnt do it :P Another thing they had to do was run into a restaurant yelling “I’ve got my period! Does anyone have any spare tampons??” If someone gave you one, bonus points! They also had to scare a random while wearing a mask, so Sam went up to a sleeping homeless guy and woke them up haha. And they had to be wrapped naked or in bathers in glad wrap and take a photo :P I cant WAIT for our scav hunt!

    1. Whoaaa….. sorry there. I reccomend setting aside at least 10 minutes if you want to read my comment ;P

  27. I’m disappointed that you included “first cigarette” in that description of an awesome moment.

  28. Dear Neil,
    Your words couldn’t have rung truer. The last day of school is a magical day. I will miss posts like these that really strike a chord with young people. I started following your blog as a junior in high school and am now finishing my undergrad degree at university. Your posts have been a bright part of my adolescence and growth into young adulthood. Thank you for reassuring me that no matter the awkward moments, lonely lunchtimes, or harassing peers, there is a life of awesome things awaiting.

  29. On the last day of school at my kids’ school they put the sound system outside, crank the tunes and let the kids dance outside at the end of the day. It is so fun to walk towards the school and hear the music blasting, then to round the corner and see everyone from age 4 to 14 out dancing with their teachers. When the bell rings everybody screams with joy. I love it!

  30. I am in the middle of my finals now, and I was lacking motivation to study some more this afternoon(here in france), I couldn’t find any way to focus on my notebooks anymore. So thats how i ended up on the internet and I stumbled upon your blog, and this post. I am actually going to keep the rest to read it it later, and go back to study, because I actually want this day – my last day at uni to come soon !
    Thanks to you.

  31. I agree that it’s awesome the last day in school but we can not forget all the first days too…mainly the day before the first day class! That’s really awesome! I used to get so exciting that I had difficults to sleep! =) Nowadays I don’t have this same feelings with my job! =(

  32. The last day of school, a time to relax, to have fun and to forget all about studies and school duties. For some students, this is their reality, unfortunately for others is the time to start studying even more than they ever had to, it happens because for the students that are in the last grade college, which will have to do the most important test of their lives, the test to enter into the university.
    For the ones who succeeded, they will have the chance of studying in a great university and then have successful careers, such as lawyer, Architect and doctors, while the others that don’t pass, will have to work at less wealthy jobs that i’ll not mention
    So we can conclude that if you’re in the last year of college, study as much as you can, so in the last day of school you don’t have to worry so much about the most important test of their lives

  33. The last day of school is undoubtledly the best day of the year, in which you wake up wanting to go to school , thinking that you will be free for a long time after a whole year of study. It is a day you are supposed to start relaxing and having fun, forgetting about all the school duties.
    On the other hand, for some students it can be one of the worst days of the year, the day you receive your failing report card, which is a message that say you ‘ll have to start studying hard, while the ones who succeeded will be free!
    So, by these and others reason, it’s necessary and better to work hard all along the year and be free for your holidays sooner, than being relaxed the all year and then in the end being forced to study really hard, during what was supposed to be your holidays, only to be aproved.

  34. in my oppinion, this is the best post of this blog. I identify myself in this post. Me and my friends have a traditional thing to do in the beginning of the holidays, we take ALL of ours notes, tests and etc and we make a huge fire in someone´s house, it is not very good for the envyroment, so we better stop doing it and about something else. God bless you all, bye

  35. My end of school tradition involves having a “funeral” for my binder. My younger brother plays Taps on his trumpet, followed by a full-body, jump-first, hurl of the binder into the dumpster.

  36. Last day of School: The school closes a few hours earlier! We cut out two hours of our school day, so that we can go home earlier! Man, I used to love that!

  37. Oh, last day of school… Don’t I know it!!! The last day of school is such a big rush, that we really don’t know how to celebrate! Cuz our brains are clogged with excitement! And your friend’s tradition sounds really weird…

  38. The last day of school for me is an unforgettable day, because is the time when we remember the best events of the year and we stay with good feeling about things we have done, in other words, we were able to perform all tasks requested by teachers and life, leaving memories the moments and people that have passed through our lives. ;D

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