Just before noon on Tuesday, June 18, faculty and staff returned the waves of students saying goodbye to the Kenneth C. Coombs School for the summer from aboard a fleet of school buses.

Just moments earlier, the halls had been packed with the chatter of backpack-clad preschoolers through 2nd graders as they exited the classrooms on the last day of classes.

“It was a great year with a lot of academic growth,” said Principal Paul M. LaBelle.

As they awaited the buses, the children gathered in the halls and out front the school. Some munched on snacks while others chatted with their friends. A few handed cards or gave hugs to the staff and faculty before leaving.

When the buses had rolled up, faculty and staff released the students with the reminder, “walk, don’t run.” The students at the front took off towards the buses at a light jog.

The last day of school is “such a mix of emotions, at this level,” Mr. LaBelle said.

For the 2nd graders boarding the school buses—whose horns were honked with excitement in the parking lot on Tuesday—it would be their last trip home from the Coombs School. Next year the buses would drop them at the Quashnet School down the street.

“There’s still that anxiety of ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to a new school,’” Mr. LaBelle said.

To make the transition from 2nd to 3rd grade easier, the 2nd graders had visited the Quashnet School for lunch and had a “moving on up day” where they got to know the school firsthand.

“It’s a really simple thing to do,” Mr. LaBelle said. “Alleviates a lot of anxiety.”

The last day of school was preceded by a Wampanoag celebration of the summer season on Monday and a 2nd grade awards ceremony about a week earlier.

The Wampanoag celebration was part of a yearlong event which highlighted the four seasons and taught the students about each seasons’ significance to Wampanoag culture. The event was “a nice one to end on,” Mr. LaBelle said.

“We want our Wampanoag students to feel very welcome at the Kenneth C. Coombs School,” he said.

As the buses pulled out, the faculty and staff cheered. A few small hands still waved through the bus windows as they turned down the street.

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