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Matthew Thornton Elementary School students were treated to a bubbly send-off as they headed to their buses on the last day of school Tuesday.

About 400 Derry Village Elementary School students clapped as the school's elders | the fifth-graders | walked out for the last time as elementary students.

It's a decade-old tradition for the first- through fifth-graders, school staff and parents to line the hallways for a standing ovation for the fifth-graders on the last day. Children, teachers and administrators cheered while parents captured it on camera and video. Some parents cried.

This week, the schools in Chester, Derry and Londonderry finished the 2006-07 school year, each marking the end of the year in their own way.

At Matthew Thornton Elementary School in Londonderry, students were treated to a bubbly send-off as they exited the school for their buses Tuesday. The staff set up an electronic bubble maker and some even blew bubbles the old-fashioned way using a bottle of soap and wands.

Derry's South Range Elementary School held a luau for the fifth-graders last week and Barka Elementary School adopted the clapping tradition from Derry Village. The two middle schools | Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook | held promotion ceremonies Tuesday for the eighth-graders who will move on to Pinkerton Academy next year.

Students have mixed emotions about leaving school for the summer.

"It's a relief," said Joeffrey Bertolami, 12, of Chester. "I'm feeling excitement mostly."

Joeffrey is headed to seventh grade at Chester Academy next fall.

Meanwhile, Derry Village fifth-grader Elissa Holt is excited and nervous at the same time.

"West is a big school," Elissa said, noting she won't always get to be with her friends because they might be on different teams.

Fifth-grader Dan Lanna is also headed for West Running Brook Middle School next year. "I can't wait until middle school," he said.

As students left Matthew Thornton, Paws, the school's mascot | also known as custodian Jim Dube | was on hand to wave goodbye with Principal Carol Mack and teachers as the bus drivers beeped their horns in celebration for the last day of school.

"Where are they all going?" asked Paws. "I won't see them all summer."

The staff was then treated to a luncheon in the cafeteria by the Parent-Teacher Association.

"They always do such a nice job," fourth-grade teacher Pat Slozak said of the luncheon.

South Londonderry Elementary School had a pizza party and step-up day Monday for its fifth-graders and North Londonderry Elementary School had a day of fun for its fifth-graders Friday.

Eighth-graders at Londonderry Middle School had their last assembly together as a class Tuesday morning. Most of the 429 students will be at Londonderry High School in the fall.

Now, hallways and classrooms are stripped of the student work that typically lines them during the school year.

"It's a completely different place when the kids are not here," said Derry Village Principal Steve Miller.

Staff writer Anthony DeAngelis contributed to this report.



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