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Column: The magical last days of school

With the school year ending, it brings back many memories, especially those of grade school and what was always a very relaxed pace at the end of the year.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure nothing important got completed in the last two weeks of the year, and it was more of a controlled “romper room” type environment.

I keep hearing how pickleball has become huge in gym classes these days. Still, I can’t possibly imagine the game being anywhere near as impressive as during the last few days of the year when the gym teacher would bring out the gigantic parachute.

I’m unsure if this was a thing in Montana, but the parachute days in Wyoming are the stuff of legend. How many games and activities can be done with a single parachute is incredible. When I visit my hometown and run into a grade school classmate, they always seem to bring up the parachute. Maybe next time I’m home, we can have a few cold beers and try to find a parachute. What could possibly go wrong?

The track and field days were also something that I looked forward to all year. There were times in November I would daydream about competing in the different events. When the day finally came, it was usually the most exciting few school hours of the year. It never disappointed me other than my finish in some of the events. I was probably good at many things growing up but running fast for a short period was never one of them. Surprisingly though, I always held my own in the potato sack, three-legged, and egg races. While I was not fast, I guess I had a decent balance.

Field trips were also something that made the end of the year complete. We could go to places like old ghost towns; it was always so much fun. We could have visited a landfill, and nobody would have been disappointed because we were out of the building.

The end of the year at Westridge Elementary also meant one day to spend 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a city park with a ball field, swimming pool and slide, and rope swings. This was the ultimate recess, and it did not have a 15- or 20-minute time constraint like the other recesses throughout the year.

During my final year of grade school, three of us were not allowed to go to the magical day at Blairstown Park because we walked too far ahead of the group during a walk the previous day to a waterfall. This seemed very petty, and I’m still mad that my teacher made us fill out packets in in-school suspension while the rest of the class had fun. Years later, I would end up living across the street from the teacher who suspended me, and I may or may not have egged her house.

Perhaps the best magic of the last few days was spending time with friends I would probably not see much again till the next school year.

Once I made it out of sixth grade and into junior high and then high school, the end of the school year was never quite as fun. We would take the semester tests on one of the last days of school, and that would be it. There were no fun days or trips. We went to the penitentiary once, but I’m not sure if I would describe that as fun.

Once the school year finished, it was time for long days of riding my bike outside or being forced to watch “Days of Our Lives” by my older sister.