As the clock hit 11:30 a.m. at Fountain Rock Elementary School on Friday, it was time to crank up the last-day theme song.
“Schooool’s out for summer,” rocker Alice Cooper chanted on a recording over the loudspeaker as students left the building. “Schooool’s out forever.”
That’s one part of the Fountain Rock way of embracing the end of another academic year with hugs, high fives and a touch of wistfulness.
Shortly after the music came on, students filed out with their teachers — fourth and fifth grades through the side door, kindergarten through third grade from the front.
Principal Mike Telemeco offered good wishes and fist bumps.
Fountain Rock, which is south of Hagerstown, has 187 students, making it one of Washington County’s smallest schools, Telemeco said.
Dismissal is a little quicker and less chaotic than at larger schools.
Four buses carry students home. Or, as Telemeco called them, four “cheese wagons,” since they’re large and yellow.
The menu for the last day of school was taco sticks or cheese quesadillas, with Scooby-Doo graham cracker snacks, milk and fruit juice.
Nikki Forrest of the food service staff said they served 102 meals.
“If you don’t like working with children, you shouldn’t be here,” said her colleague Debbie Carty, who has worked in food service for 21 years.
Friday also was the last day of Pam Gouker’s career. All 41 years that Fountain Rock has been open, Gouker has been there to teach first grade.
“It’s been a wonderful ride,” she said, describing the rollercoaster of highs and lows that goes with the job.
Gouker called her students “the love of my life.”
Her retirement plans including exercising, gardening and traveling, and possibly tutoring.
Gouker’s departure means Donna Weimer, with 39 years, becomes the senior teacher at Fountain Rock. Most of that time she taught first grade, but the last few years she has taught second grade.
Weimer said the last day of the year is a time of happiness about what students have achieved and sadness that they’re leaving.
Still, “it’s nice to put everything away and get a little break,” she said.
It’s a misnomer, though, that school will shut down for three months, Telemeco said.
There will be summer programs for students and parents. Administrators and teachers will work on schedules and curriculum.
Telemeco said that for many students, school is a constant in their lives, a reliable place for meals and kindness.
The last students to leave, Ashanti and Amari Latham, said they’ll miss their school.
“Because I love learning,” said Ashanti, who just finished fourth grade.
“I love math,” said Amari, who completed first grade.
But both girls are looking forward to their summer plans — gymnastics class.
With the school empty of students, the staff gathered for a group photo.
Then, it was time to celebrate the end of the year. Telemeco was going to grill hamburgers.