PARKERSBURG - Students throughout Wood County were celebrating Friday, their last day of 2011-12 school year.
At VanDevender Middle School students took part in a variety of outdoor water games, from a reverse dunking booth to a water balloon toss to a relay race with soaked sponges.
At Franklin Elementary Center, students participated in a variety of activities, from an awards assembly to outdoor games.
Photo by Michael Erb
Eighth-grade science teacher Amanda Moles gets doused with water during end-of-school games Friday at VanDevender Middle School.
At Vienna Elementary School students began the day with a ceremony to unveil new United States and West Virginia flags in front of the school. The student body gathered Friday afternoon for an awards assembly.
While at several schools students were taking part in last day celebrations, at other schools just as many were hard at work turning in assignments and taking final exams.
At Williamstown High School the day proved especially hectic as students and staff not only finished end-of-year activities, but also got ready for graduation ceremonies Friday night.
"It's a scramble. All week has been a scramble," said Principal Pat Peters. "We are finishing up Westest, it is finals week for the upper classmen, we had National Honor Society induction, we had the Williamstown Elementary 6th-grade graduation, we have senior graduation.
"In the middle of that you are taking up books, assessing fines, getting together grades," he said. "It's been a very stressful week."
Peters said graduation night coinciding with the last day of school added an extra wrinkle.
"In my tenure as an educator, 20-some years, I've don't ever remember graduation and the last day of school being on the same day," he said.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services, said the early calendar end this year for Wood County Schools meant lots of last minute finishes for students and teachers.
"It's a race to the finish line right now," she said.
Woodward said this marks one of the first times in recent history Wood County Schools has ended the school year before Memorial Day.
"Those of us who attended schools in the 50s, 60s and 70s always got out of school before Memorial Day," she said. "But I don't know of any students who is enrolled now or graduating this year who've gotten out before Memorial Day. That's probably true for a lot of parents and teachers as well."
Woodward said in more recent years the state has worked harder to enforce the 180 days of instruction requirement, and school systems have become more diligent in tracking those days.
A change in state law which allowed for an earlier start date combined with a mild winter and only one school day lost to bad weather contributed to this year's earlier dismissal date.
Not all Wood County students are finished with school, however. Parkersburg Catholic High and Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School students will have classes until June 1.
"Usually our calendars line up with Wood County Schools, but this year we had some differences in the middle of the calendars," said Parkersburg Catholic Elementary Principal Kevin Simonton. "I think next year's will line up better."