PHOTOS: Year comes to an end for Collier public school students, faculty

— It was the last day of school at Palmetto Elementary School — along with every other Collier County public school — but it was also a day of firsts.

It was the first last day for the Golden Gate Estates school, which opened in August.

For Principal Marilyn Moser, the day was bittersweet.

“We are watching one class leave and we are going to miss them. But to see the growth in these kids, it’s amazing,” she said. “This is the best time of the year.”

Moser said the school community, who came in announcing that they were from Sabal Palm Elementary School or one of the other schools in the district that were rezoned to Palmetto Elementary, now refer to themselves proudly as Palmetto Gators.

“It’s hard to believe we have had a whole year here,” she said. “There have been challenges, but it has also been lots of fun.”

Fun seemed to be the word of the day as teachers and students spent their last few hours together. In Randee Trimble’s first-grade class, the students performed the story “A Boy, a Frog and a Dog.”

“The story has pictures, but no words. So we all wrote it together. They gave me the words and I was the recorder,” said Trimble.

Each student in the class took turns reading what they thought happened in a picture in the story.

“I am so impressed,” Moser said. “I know when you came here, you could read and write a bit, but nothing like this.”

The students said they were going to miss first grade.

“(I like) the science and the activities and the math and the activities. And the books!” said Alexander Sosa, 7. “My favorite is ‘Frog and Toad.’”

Anderson Aricy, 7, said he was going to miss Trimble.

“She always gives me homework and I like doing it,” he said.

But the students were looking forward to their summer vacations, too. Jacob Wilson, 7, said summer means he gets to stay up later.

“I can’t wait to watch the stars at night,” he said.

The fifth-graders in Holly Kennedy’s class spent part of their last day cleaning their desks and getting the room ready for the next class of fifth-graders. They also watched the movie “Hoot,” based on the book of the same name by Florida author Carl Hiaasen.

Kady Swank, 11, said it has been a good year at Palmetto Elementary.

“It is cool because we are the first kids to graduate,” she said.

Kady, who plans to spend part of her summer in Missouri, said she is going to miss Kennedy and the field trips the class took.

“I liked going to the art museum because it’s fun seeing what people did and learning about different things,” she said.

Bruce Estanislao, 12, said he was excited about middle school next year.

“I am looking forward to getting good grades and passing,” he said.

Kennedy said it has been a challenging year, from everything being packed in boxes and plastic when she arrived to her classroom decorated as it was Tuesday with students sitting quietly.

“It’s been a great experience. I have learned a lot,” she said. “We have had a lot of fun and we did a lot of activities. They are all unique.”

Sherry Ashley decided to turn the tables on her third-grade class Tuesday morning. Each of her students were required to teach a subject and relate it to the idea of how it can be used to “create the world that we want.”

“It’s a review of what we learned,” she said. “Some of the focus is on the character traits and leaving on a positive note.”

Omar Wellams, 9, said speaking in front of his entire class was “scary.” But he is going to miss the fun he had in third grade.

“I am going to miss the friendships,” he said. “And the field trips.”

But there are sure to be lots of field trips and new friendships when school starts again Aug. 24.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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