The final school bell rang Friday for Columbia County's 19,000 pupils, ending the 180-day school year.
"Thank God," said Evans High School sophomore Dennis Skeen, who had just finished his last final exam around noon and was waiting for a ride.
"I get to go home and I don't have to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning," he said. "But it's just as bad as it is good; I don't get to see all my friends."
Kia Brisdon, a rising senior, huddled with her friends in the commons area for goodbyes.
"I'm going to be a senior now," she said. "It's relief to know I've accomplished something, getting ready to take a bigger step. It's very exciting."
With his shaggy black hair covering his eyes and his red and white skateboard in hand, Richard Stafford was prepared to sidewalk-surf his way home - something he'd done for the past three days as an ode to the end of school.
"It went by real fast," the Evans freshman said. "It was better than middle school."
If the students were relieved, school officials were equally delighted.
"Everybody is always somewhat relieved to bring closure to one year and have an opportunity to get away from it for awhile," School Superintendent Tommy Price said. "The end of the year is always an anxious time; decisions are made regarding pass-failure, there are final exams, so it's always a tense time as well. There's always relief to parents, students, teachers, everyone, that it's coming to a close."
Bus 921 driver Roseann Wilmore threw a party for her riders in the morning and was ready to celebrate when the final bell rang.
"We'll blow the horns when we leave here and let them whoop and holler and make a lot of noise," she said, waiting for her Lakeside pupils to load up.
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or email@example.com.