With the FCAT behind them and a week off for spring break, island-area children returned to their schools Monday, March 27, well rested, fresh and bushy-tailed.
The two weeks or so of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test was grueling for some of them, even though many said they thought they did "pretty good." But they added they were glad the pressure was off — and they were rewarded with a week of no school from March 20-24.
A quick visit to Tommie Barfield Elementary's Media Center found some fourth-and fifth-graders who were happy to tell how they fared on the FCAT and what they did during spring break.
Danny Quintana said he was glad the FCAT was over.
"I'm not sure how I did on it. But I probably did pretty good, though," said Danny, 10, a pupil in teacher Jon Mundorf's fourth-grade class.
Danny spent spring break at his dad's house in Miami and said he had a great time.
"I went wake-boarding. That's when you ride on a board towed behind a boat and ride over the waves the boat makes," he said. "I went to the beach once, at Key Biscayne."
Alex Lowdermilk and Rebeka Blanchette, both 10-year-olds in Jackie Hogan's fourth-grade class, were glad to be back at school after the FCAT and a week-long break. They were looking at a paper pyramid display made by one of the younger classes.
"I stayed home (during spring break) and had so much fun," said Alex, a friend of Rebeka's. He played video games, worked on projects and was just glad to rest after the FCAT.
"I read some books, too. My favorite one was Captain Underpants, Alex said. "I feel great now that FCAT is over. FCAT was magnificent. I think I did well."
Rebeka went to the Sports Club at Mackle Park, where she said she had a really good time.
"There was a game room and sports," she said. "We played sports like soccer, baseball and football with the counselors. My favorite game was soccer."
Rebeka was too busy to read any books during the week-long recess, but she helped her mom and dad doing dishes and other chores at home.
She was glad to get through with the FCAT.
"It was kind of hard," Rebeka said. "I pretty much knew the answers, so I think I did OK."
Aidan Brennan and Alan Lora, both 10-year-olds in the fifth-grade class of Cesar Canizares, went on trips during spring recess.
"I went to the Junior Olympics in Orlando," Aidan said. "I took part in swimming. I was at the Olympics for a couple of days, then went to Universal (Studios) and the Islands of Adventure."
When Aidan and his family came back from Orlando, they spent the rest of spring break moving into their new house in Naples. Aidan said it would be different, because his new home is farther away from school than their "old" house on Marco Island.
Alan went to Mexico, the home country of his family, to visit relatives. He said he had a terrific time.
"I've been there before. This is the seventh time I went there, but it's been a year since the last time I went," Alan said. "I visited a lot of places and played games with some cousins. I ate Mexican food, but I got sick because I wasn't used to it."
Aidan and Alan said they both did pretty well on the FCAT and were glad to get it over with.
"Spring break was fun," Alan said. "But I'm glad to be back in school."
In Gail Dunphy Seery's multi-age intermediate class, Casey Mendell drove up to Columbus, Ohio, with her mother and brother to visit her "Uncle Mel." During their drive up there, they encountered their first snowstorm.
Adrienne Collins and her family flew to Nassau, where they swam with dolphins, slid down water slides and painted pottery. Adrienne reported that swimming with the dolphins was the best part.
Chloe Mansell and her family flew to Taos, N.M., for a ski trip. The second day, Chloe said, it was snowing when she woke up. It was her first day of ski school, and Chloe said she will always remember her first time on a ski lift.
And Ms. Seery, the teacher, said she had a wonderful family reunion during spring break.
Her 90-year-old father and stepmother flew in from Rhode Island, and her daughter and son-in-law moved down from Boston last July. Her cousin lives on Marco Island, so getting together with all of them made her spring break a special one.
Some pupils in Nancy Embree's fourth-grade class had some exciting times during spring break, too.
Catherine Remaks went to the Mote Marine Laboratory, a nonprofit research center in Sarasota, where her Aunt Lynn volunteers to work with dolphins. Catherine said two of the dolphins, Moonshine and Haley, did tricks.
"It was awesome," Catherine said.
Parker Nettles went to Disney World near Orlando.
"My favorite ride was Space Mountain," Parker said. "I liked it because it was really dark and you could be going up fast, then all of a sudden you will be going down."
Daulton Ehlen, his family and two of his friends went to Vail, Colo., where Daulton learned to snowboard.
"(Friend) Steven taught me to snowboard," Daulton said. "It took me two days, but I figured it out. We also had a snowball fight."
Trevor Weidman got a remote-control boat and Shell Court, where he "drove" it around the bay.
"It was so fun. When I looked at the bottom of the propeller, there was jellyfish all over it," Trevor said. "I also went fishing in my boat at Blind Pass. I caught 24 whiting, three mackerel and two sheepshead. Spring break was the best time of my life."