Last Friday was the final day of school for our current batch of year 12s. This leaving day is a very big deal at our school. Next year will be Max’s turn and I will most likely be too incoherent with emotion to explain the ritual then, so I’ll try to do it now.

It begins with the year 12s staying at the school until very late on Thursday night, decorating each classroom and the kinders and the school grounds and library as well. The whole school arrives as early as possible on the Friday morning to see what they have done. Here are some examples I have seen over the years:
A disco in the class 9 room, with all the windows blacked out and disco balls.
A maze in the class 3 room that you have to get down on hands and knees to crawl through, with a treasure chest in the middle filled with treats.
A giant chair sculpture, with all the school chairs stacked 30 foot high in the court yard.
A dragon made out of school desks winding its way down the stairs and into the garden.
Massive spider webs made of string blocking the toilet doors.
A photo gallery of the teachers, and in each photo someone showing their bum in the background with the teacher quite unaware in the foreground.

Often, the library is converted to a movie cinema with a specially made movie running, starring the Year Twelves and sometimes the teachers too.

And there always lots of lollies everywhere, to the delight of all the younger children, who run around in mad excitement exploring the rooms and feasting on sugar. The younger ones aren’t allowed up to the higher class rooms in theory, but somehow they often manage to sneak in. I love how sensitively the primary classrooms and the kinders are always decorated, while the older years are a bit more, well, racy.
When all the mad excitement is over, the year 10s have the job of cleaning up the mess and restoring order to the classrooms and the year 11s prepare the hall for the assembly. The year 12s and parents have morning tea in the dining room with the year 12 teachers.

Then the year 12s start their journey through the school, visiting each class to say goodbye, starting with year 11 and moving through to the kinders last. All the classes have prepared a special gift for each one of them and the kinder kids crown them with a wreath of flowers. By this time, many of them are in tears, as you can imagine.
But it’s not over yet.

It’s now time for the school assembly. The whole of the upper school and the families crowd into the hall to hear the teachers and the students talk about things that have happened during their time at school and about each other. There are usually lots of funny stories.

And then the year 12s leave in some spectacular manner, maybe a decorated bus or truck or even a convoy of decorated bikes, still crowned with their garlands of flowers and throwing lollies as they go, and the whole school comes out to wave goodbye.
And phew, its done.

Usually, I have to go to work then, but after so much emotion, I would really rather go home and have a cup of tea and a lie down. I feel a bit teary now, just writing about it. It’s a very special day.