Brittney Johnson leaned against the wall of her Spokane Valley elementary school Thursday as friends wrote their names on the eight-year-old’s purple shirt - in indelible marker.
“Lookit, this is permanent,” said 7-year-old Kristy Howe, giggling as she pointed to a name written on her arm and another on the leg of her jeans. “It’ll come off my skin, but it won’t come off my clothes.”
The clothes-signing party is a last-day tradition at Ponderosa Elementary School, one of the seven West Valley schools that released students for summer vacation on Thursday.
East Valley and Central Valley will release students next week, on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.
“You guys are going bonkers with signing,” said classmate Tyler Mooney, 8. The three girls, who just finished second grade, ignored him.
“Let me write a heart,” said Howe, pouncing on Sherrie Gower’s cutoffs with a red marker.
The mood on the playground 15 minutes before the final bell rang was high-pitched excitement. Some children rolled in the grass in bathing suits, others pounded tetherballs and more climbed on jungle gyms.
Earlier that day, staff members took turns in a dunk tank, and teachers challenged the fourth graders to a softball game.
“The teachers, of course,” said physical education teacher Kevin Frame.
Despite the festivities, not all students were thrilled that school was over. Soon-to-be second grader Kayla Shane, 7, was sad.
“I want to go live with my teacher,” Shane said. “I’m going to miss her.”
Brooks Booth, 10, who just finished fourth grade, is headed to a different school in the fall - Seth Woodard Elementary, for fifth graders only.
Booth admits he’s “kinda scared,” but that won’t stop him from enjoying the summer, which he plans to spend water-skiing and boating with his family.
At West Valley High School the halls were empty, but there was a different kind of celebrating going on - relaxation.
The few remaining staff members seemed drained of air as they sat and hashed over the last day.
“I think they left about a month ago,” said intervention specialist Pete Day of the students. “Just their bodies left today.”
They were released at 11:30 a.m., but two students still roamed the halls - on a one-stop shopping spree for the summer.
Seniors-to-be Alison Syron and Mary Shollenberger strode down the halls, each hefting a green plastic garbage bag stuffed with clothes after raiding the school’s lost-and-found.
“People lose good stuff, man,” Shollenberger said, as she walked out the front door into summer vacation.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: School’s out By the end of next week, all Spokane Valley schoolchildren will be on summer vacation. The West Valley and Freeman school districts released students on Thursday. The last day of classes for students attending East Valley schools is Tuesday. Central Valley students are in school through Friday. Freeman schools begin classes again on Aug. 29. The other three districts resume classes on Sept. 6.