If you think you heard the thunder of cheers and hundreds of running feet Wednesday afternoon, don't be surprised.
It was the last day of school for about 10,000 students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. From Nikiski to Nanwalek, from Seward to Seldovia, students, teachers, parents and others involved in education enjoyed field days and picnics under sunny skies.
"I think they are pretty excited about summer," said Brian Bailey, a teacher at North Star Elementary School.
"They have probably been ready for a couple weeks, some of them."
Teachers finish work today.
Principals and secretaries remain on the job for at least another week, with the exact closing date varying from school to school.
The district's central office in Soldotna will remain open throughout the summer. Wednesday was business as usual for most of its staff.
"We're still playing catch-up," said Kathy Godek, the public information specialist.
The district administration is plenty busy this time of year closing schools for the summer, hiring new staff for fall and gearing up summer school programs, she said.
But for students and their families, the 1999-00 school year is done.
At Bailey's school in Nikiski, everyone spent the morning cleaning up their things before adjourning to a noon picnic. For most, it was a festive day, but for some it had a wistful side as well.
"They had a little salute to staff members leaving, and kids came up and gave them hugs," he said.
Although the kids were bigger, the day at Kenai Central High School was similar.
The regular classes were condensed into the morning. At lunch time everyone gathered for a school barbecue, followed by indoor and outdoor games such as soccer and Frisbee.
"They just had a ball," said Assistant Principal Hank Overturf.
The end-of-school picnic is a tradition, but this year's weather and students made it particularly pleasant, he said.
Last year it rained.
Overturf described the graduating seniors as "outstanding" and said the staff will miss them.
But in the sunshine, hot dogs in hand, he and others devoted Wednesday to more cheerful thoughts.
"We just had fun," he said.
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