BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A typically happy day — the last day of the school year — was a bit more somber as students arrived at Titusville's South Lake Elementary on Wednesday.
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The same mood prevailed at Clearlake Middle School in Cocoa, which, along with South Lake and Gardendale Elementary on Merritt Island, won't open again this fall due to school district budget cuts. Gardendale is one of two year-round schools in Brevard.
Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports about 66,000 students in grades K-11 were in class for the last time until Aug. 14, when school resumes after summer break. Around 5,000 seniors have already graduated and two schools, with a total enrollment of about 1,000 total, are year-round.
But for South Lake, Clearlake and Gardendale families whose students will move on to other schools, it was time to close the book on a chapter in their lives.
Angelina O'Quinn brought her two grandchildren, 7-year-old Elijah and 8-year-old Jayden, to the Titusville school for their last day there.
"I feel sad but kind of happy at the same time, because I'm going to my new school and probably make lots of new friends," Jayden told Florida Today.
At Clearlake, students arrived on foot and by bus, bike and with parents for the start of class at 9:30 a.m.
Seventh-grader Vondaisia Richardson was among the walkers who showed up well before time to enter the building.
What will she miss about the place where she made the transition to junior high?
"A lot, actually. The staff here is nice," she said.
"And the food, and the other students. Some were upset, but some were happy."
But for O'Quinn, the past year of school district budget struggles and decisions to close three schools has been upsetting.
"This has always been a rated-No. 1 school," she said of South Lake. "And these kids have always done an awesome job here. Teachers have been great."
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