Yasmeen Khan is a reporter covering education. You can find her stories on the air and on SchoolBook.org, WNYC’s education website.
Wednesday was the last day of school for New York City public schools and students streaming out of school around the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn said the moment was bittersweet but mostly a relief.
Dexter Ambrose Allan-Reilly completed his fifth-grade year at P.S. 58 The Carroll School. After dismounting his scooter on Lafayette Ave., Allan-Reilly admitted that he had mixed feelings about the end of the school year.
“I’m really excited, but I’m kind of sad because I’m not going to see all my friends that I’ve made in school. I think a lot of kids in my school are going to be really upset,” said Allan-Reilly.
For the older students, the start of summer meant a chance to regroup after a tough year, and extra sleep. Shanice Isaac, an eighth grader at M.S. 113 said this year was filled with academic challenges.
“The work was already hard and we had tests all the time,” Isaac said. “So I’m happy because I don’t have to see all the teachers I didn’t like. No teachers, no work, no homework!”
Yvonne Wu, who completed ninth grade at Brooklyn Technical High School, said she was glad for the reprieve.
“It was really stressful, especially in geometry because I’m really bad at math,” Wu said. She was headed for a family vacation in Florida and then planned to work at a daycare center the rest of the summer.
Several high school students had jobs and internships lined up. Alexander Chong just finished his sophomore year at Brooklyn Tech. He said he had an science research internship at Rutgers University.
“[Summer] is definitely a time to add to your resume. It’s not the same as in elementary school. But it’s important to have fun also,” Chong said. “It’s a time to recharge after a long school year."
But perhaps the people most in need of a recharge during the summer are parents. Madeline Cruz, mother of 10-year-old Tamara Moore, who attends P.S. 20 in Clinton Hill, said that the end of the school year made life a little easier for her.
“I have to work, and I drop her off at school, so it’s really busy for me. I’m glad school is over,” Cruz said, laughing.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg marked the last day of school with a keynote address to the first graduating class of Sunset Park High School, where he noted that all of the 220 graduates were bound for college.
He attributed Sunset Park's success to the school's faculty, families and students themselves.
"High school students are old enough to be in control of their own destiny," he said to reporters outside Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School, where the graduation ceremony was held.
"An awful lot of kids in this country don't have great high schools to go to," he told graduates. "An awful lot of kids in this country don't have supportive families. An awful lot of kids in this country don't even think about going to college."
The school has a projected graduation rate for this year of 77 percent, higher than the citywide average of almost 65 percent. It's one of more than 600 new schools opened during Bloomberg's three terms as mayor.