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Closing the books: Gwinnett students celebrate last day of school

LAWRENCEVILLE - Rebecca Olsen can sum up what she likes best about summer in one word.

"Freedom!" the 11-year-old said Wednesday, the last day of classes for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Sleeping in, going to the pool, traveling to Florida - these were just some of the things Craig Elementary School students said they had planned for the summer.

"The best thing about summer - I'll be able to chill out," said Rivion Johnson, 10. "And not always have to wake up early in the morning."

Mary Ray, the school's principal, said the last day is always a celebratory affair, as the fifth-graders walk the hallways one last time to say goodbye to their former teachers and the younger students.

That walk through the halls was the best part of the day, said Rachel Olsen, Rebecca's twin sister.

Fourth-graders chanted, "Let's go, fifth grade. Let's go!" Meanwhile, the older - and wiser - fifth-graders yelled out advice: "Stay in school."

Although Gwinnett County Public Schools students started their vacations Wednesday, some children have a few more days of pencils and books.

Greater Atlanta Christian School's last day is today, while several others - Buford City Schools, Hebron Christian Academy, Providence Christian Academy and Wesleyan School - will let out for summer Friday.

Killian Hill Christian School will have classes until Wednesday, and Barrow County Schools will be in session until June 6.

Gwinnett County Public Schools and many of the county's private institutions will resume classes on Aug. 11. Wesleyan's an exception, beginning the new year Aug. 20. Buford students return Aug. 7, and Barrow County goes back Aug. 15.

That leaves more than two months of lazy days for students such as Rivion, the Craig Elementary fifth grader. But the rising sixth grader said there will be more to his summer than sleeping late. He'll celebrate his 11th birthday, attend a sports camp, practice for football and travel to Maryland.

And when summer is over, he'll be a student at Crews Middle, something he said makes him "excited and nervous at the same time."

Ray Gann, 7, said he knows what he's looking forward to this August when he enters third grade at Craig.

"Having a nice teacher," he said.

SideBar: Upcoming graduations

Today

Shiloh High -10 a.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Grayson High - 2:30 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Collins Hill High - 7 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Greater Atlanta Christian School - 7 p.m., Hollis Smith Quadrangle

Faith Academy - 7 p.m., Hebron Baptist Church, Dacula

Mill Creek High - 7:30 p.m., Mill Creek stadium

Friday

Peachtree Ridge High - 10 a.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

South Gwinnett High - 2:30 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Duluth High - 7 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Hebron Christian Academy - 7 p.m., Student Activity Center

Killian Hill Christian School - 7 p.m., Killian Hill's gymnasium

Saturday

Wesleyan School - 9 a.m., Wesleyan's Barbara Adler Plaza

Old Suwanee Christian School - 9:30 a.m., Old Suwanee's gym

Covenant Christian Academy - 10 a.m., Lighthouse World Outreach Center, Monroe

Meadowcreek High - 10 a.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

Providence Christian Academy - 10 a.m., Mount Carmel Christian Church, Stone Mountain

Dacula High - 2:30 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

North Gwinnett High - 7 p.m., Arena at Gwinnett Center

June 5

Apalachee High - 8 p.m., Apalachee High stadium

June 6

Winder-Barrow High - 8 p.m., Winder-Barrow High's stadium