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News / Clark County News

Out for summer: Elated students celebrate end to the school year in Clark County

Evergreen Superintendent John Boyd marks end of his career with the district

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 18, 2024, 5:55pm
5 Photos
Burton Elementary School students wave goodbye at faculty and staff Tuesday in Vancouver on the last day of school in Evergreen Public Schools.
Burton Elementary School students wave goodbye at faculty and staff Tuesday in Vancouver on the last day of school in Evergreen Public Schools. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

“There’s no rules anymore!” screamed an excited young student who made a beeline for his school bus.

The bell rang for the last time at Burton Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon, signaling the end of the 2023-’24 school year for Evergreen Public Schools and several other districts across the region.

Many of Burton’s students left the school with a special summer zeal. Perhaps something exciting awaited them at home: video games, outdoor recreation, a newly silenced alarm clock. Freedom.

Burton’s staff saw students off with a sea of bubbles — a tradition the school has kept since it moved into a brand-new building last school year. While also excited for the summer, staff said seeing buses depart for the last time always invites a wide range of emotions.

“I love the excitement of summer, but we always miss the kids that are on their way to middle school next,” Burton Principal Becky Chase said. “Some of these kids were with us when we moved from the old building. They’ve spent six years of their lives with us through all this change.”

In Evergreen, the region’s largest school district, the school year both began and ended with delays — first due to a prolonged teacher strike and then because of an especially chaotic winter. Chase said the rocky start was hard but helped her staff band together.

“The one thing that’s always constant is change. This year isn’t unique,” she said. “What we always have to do is keep our eyes on the prize: giving our students a good place to be successful. When we all get back together, we pivot to focus on that.”

‘Mostly sweet’

Tuesday wasn’t just the last day of the year for Evergreen Superintendent John Boyd. It was the last of his career.

“After 33 years, it’s extra special for me,” said Boyd, who announced his retirement in April after two years with the district. Boyd joined Burton staff in blowing bubbles for departing students. “It’s a little bittersweet after all the time, but mostly sweet.”

Boyd said his time at the helm of the district had its fair share of ups and downs. He noted multiple rounds of $20 million budget cuts and the teacher strike this year. He said he remains proud of the work he accomplished, and he feels the district’s leadership team will carry on effectively when he leaves at the end of the month.

“It’s a phenomenal school district,” Boyd said. “You sometimes get barraged with the negatives, but spend time at any one school, and you’ll see 100 positives to one negative.”

Evergreen’s board of directors is set to interview candidates for the district’s interim superintendent role Thursday and Monday in private sessions. District spokesman Mike Tokito said the board will publicly announce its decision shortly after, likely in early to mid-July.