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News / Clark County News

All smiles for summer: Vancouver Public Schools students get happy send-off

Some other districts still have classes

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 20, 2023, 5:14pm
4 Photos
Students wave goodbye to faculty and staff as their bus drives away Tuesday following the last day of school at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School.
Students wave goodbye to faculty and staff as their bus drives away Tuesday following the last day of school at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The last of Vancouver’s schools bid goodbye to the 2022-2023 school year Tuesday, with the final day largely spent celebrating another year of pandemic recovery.

Staff and parents in Vancouver Public Schools said last week they expected attendance to be far lower than usual Tuesday due to February and March snowstorms pushing the last day of the school year into this week — an awkward landing after the Juneteenth holiday.

Administrators at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School in Vancouver said the eventual attendance totals were actually far closer to normal than anticipated.

“It really wasn’t as bad as we expected at all,” said Jill MacKenzie, Roosevelt’s principal. “There were only 80 or so students who were gone today, and most were fifth-graders who had their promotion ceremony last Friday.”

MacKenzie said that the final day ended up going wonderfully, and, for elementary students in particular, the last day is important for providing kids closure as they get ready to abandon the daily routine for a few months. To put extra smiles on faces saying goodbye, staff showered kids in bubbles and donned costumes to make the occasion more special.

“Some kids really get used to having the care and compassion of wonderful teachers and get sad to leave,” MacKenzie said. “We want to do what we can to make that (transition to summer) a little easier for them.”

Back in the swing of things

As students said goodbye, MacKenzie and Associate Principal Jenny Campos both agreed that the school year had been a huge step toward a semblance of pre-pandemic “normalcy” in terms of students’ comfort level in the classroom. A big piece of that, they said, can be attributed to Roosevelt hosting more community events and seeing more parent volunteers back in the hallways and classrooms.

“The thing that has really been noticeable this year is the community wanting to be a part of the school, being invited back into the building and being a part of their students’ education,” Campos said. “We’ve already seen so much growth academically and emotionally as kids get used to seeing each other regularly. Engagement from parents and the community really helps with that.”

The two hope the trend of increased engagement can continue next year and that it ultimately translates to higher attendance and enrollment levels.

Though Vancouver’s school year ended later than expected Tuesday, other districts in Clark County still have another day or so left this week due to spring snow days.

  • Battle Ground Public Schools’ north-end schools (Battle Ground High School, Amboy Middle, Yacolt Primary, Chief Umtuch Middle, Captain Strong Primary, Tukes Valley Primary and Middle, CAM Academy, River HomeLink and Summit View High School) will have their last day Wednesday.
  • Camas School District’s final day is Wednesday.
  • Washougal School District has its last day Friday.