It ended with a cheer and a slow walk to the door.
"I'll miss this school," said Evelyn Penny, a 15-year-old ninth grader, as she left the assembly last week at Lincoln Junior High School. It was the last day of school and a time for summations.
"I had a lot of fun times here and some bad times too," Penny said, looking back at the yellow-brick school at 16th and Irving streets NW. "But, you know, it was a nice place to be."
For about 113,000 Washington public school students, last Thursday marked the end of the school year.
There had been a teachers' strike in March, bitter feuds on the school board and continued complaints about low student achievement.
But last Thursday morning, as the sun shone warmly and the humidity stayed low, it seemed to be a time for optimism and satisfaction.
At Lincoln, as in many D.C. schools, there was an assembly program with trophies and speeches and warm applause.
"That's better than having the kids just sit around," said science teacher Anne Brown, who organized Lincoln's assembly. "It encourages them to come to school right up to the end."
At some senior high schools, students picked up their report cards, talked to their friends and then drifted away several hours before the scheduled dismissal at noon.
All the graduations and proms had been held during the past two weeks, and many seniors did not come to school at all.
At elementary schools, a spot check indicated attendance was high. But in many classes, it was a time for parties, not study.
"On the last day of school, all you do is play and talk to each other," said Jewell Wilkes, a 9-year-old third grader at Bancroft Elementary School in Mount Pleasant. "And you get your report card," she added, flourishing her own.
At Lincoln, though, there were no report cards.
In most subjects, said principal Michael Durso, academic classes continued until June 13. Teachers turned their grades in last Thursday, and report cards will be mailed to students within three weeks. Those who did not pass already have been notified, Durso said, and will have to pass courses in summer school in order to be promoted.
Most of the students interviewed at Lincoln last Thursday said they planned to work or just have fun during the summer.
"It will be nice to stay home and clean up," said Tracy Byrd, 12, a seventh grader who received a trophy for perfect attendance and certificates for top grades in most of her courses.
"I'll probably work," said Earl Battle, a 16-year-old ninth grader. "I know I'll chase girls and play a little basketball. I'll just relax - that's all. It's been a good year - except for the strike - but I'm glad it's coming to an end." CAPTION: Picture 1, Ann Brown, chairman of the awards assembly at Abraham Lincoln Junior High, and Tracy Byrd, who won six awards.; Picture 2, Seventh grader Clara Hargrove entertained students at Lincoln's awards assembly the last day of school. Photos by Doug Chevalier - The Washington Post