LPS rocks the last day of school

It was the last day of the 2020-21 school year on Thursday and students, teachers and staff across Lincoln Public Schools celebrated with many of the traditional end-of-year events and activities - field days, cheering for fifth-graders moving on to middle school, assemblies.

But of course there was nothing traditional about the 2020-21 school year, as Superintendent Steve Joel spoke about in a video message to staff.

“It gives me just a tremendous amount of pride to say thank you to all of our incredible staff, our incredible parents and the wonderful community we have in Lincoln,” said Joel, who went on to say, “At the end of the day, we held true to our mission - and that’s kids.”

At arrival time at Pyrtle Elementary School, students and parents were greeted with a big surprise - “flatheads,” individual signs featuring the faces of each student in the departing fifth-grade class that were planted in the ground by the main entrance. Many of the students posed for photos behind their signs.

“This might have to be a new Pyrtle tradition,” said Principal Kristen Finley.

About six miles north and three hours later, Dawes Middle School held its annual “Dawesie Awards” for each grade level. Student awards ranged from music to art to best attitude to remote learning rock star to who checked out the most books from the library.

Associate Principal Nancy Salsman addressed the eighth-graders. She said Dawes staff were in awe of how students navigated this challenging school year - they adapted, they were flexible, they showed kindness, they embraced equity.

“One word that comes to mind for all of us is hope,” she said. “Each of you has provided us with hope. Congratulations, we’re very proud of you.”

Principal Liz Miller summed up her thoughts afterwards: “I have so much pride in our students and staff, who worked so hard during a difficult yet amazing year.”

After the awards, an all-staff rock band closed out the ceremony with music. The opening song? “School’s Out.” 

Two hours later and about seven miles south, staff and students formed a circle that stretched the entire playground and cheered as fifth-graders walked the perimeter and soaked up the applause in their final minutes as Zeman Elementary School Zebras.

“A lot of school districts around the state and around the country weren’t able to pull this off,” said Principal Rik Devney. “But we did it.”

Published: May 20, 2021, Updated: May 25, 2021

Members of an all-staff Dawes Middle School band perform the song "School's Out."

"A lot of school districts around the state and around the country weren’t able to pull this off, but we did it."

Zeman Elementary Principal Rik Devney