SEBRING - It was wet and a bit wild weather-wise on the last day of school as students, teachers and staff wrapped up the 2012-13 school year with the threatening Tropical Storm Andrea and its associated tornado watches and warnings.
The last day was a scheduled early-release day so School Board of Highlands County administrators were especially concerned during the mid-day and early afternoon when tornado warnings were issued as students were being released at the end of the school day.
Due to weather concerns, school bus departures were delayed for two hours, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Sebring High, Sebring Middle, Lake Placid High and Lake Placid Middle.
Superintendent Wally Cox said, "The weather was a little bit challenging today, but we took the necessary safety precautions that we felt was appropriate. Overall we made sure that everybody got home in safe manner, but it might have been a little bit later than expected."
Cox said "overall" it was a good school year.
"I thank my teachers, staff and administrators for what they do every day and hope that the ones who are not working during the summer get some rest and have a safe and relaxing summer," he said.
At Sebring Middle School, the scheduled show - Streaks Got Talent - went on without a hitch in the morning in the school's commons. Teachers Shawn West and Angie Spencer organized the event, which featured 18 mostly solo acts and about 25 students in total.
After the talent competition, eighth-grader Jennifer Moore sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" to retiring teachers Tom Libby, Jeanne Penrod and Joy Eastman, retiring paraprofessional Joann Taylor and departing teacher Jennifer Buchanan, who is moving to West Virginia.
The two-hour assembly concluded with a slide show of photos from the school year, which was created by the school's yearbook staff.
Students laughed at many of the funny poses, but cheered for the photos of the school's Exceptional Student Education students.
West said seven of the school's ESE students will be going to high school next year either in Avon Park or Sebring.
The teachers said they will be busy during the summer.
West said they will be attending many instructional workshops including common core workshops and AVID (Advanced Via Individual Determination) workshops.
Spencer said, "I am sure we will find some time for relaxing, too, but we start next week with our next-year planning with our leadership team."
Eighth-graders Sydney Esquibel and Michael Bueche, who served as the talent show's emcees, shared their highlights of the school year and their plans for the summer.
Bueche related a funny incident in the middle of the school year when he was between classes.
"I had a parrot land on my shoulder," he said.
He saw a bush move and a little green parrot looked at him and squawked and then jumped on his back, Bueche said.
"At first I was just going to run straight to class and tell everybody, but I thought, 'I have to bring him in or nobody is going to believe me,'" Bueche said. He walked into class hunched over and his teacher, Sherri Crow, thought he was doing some kind of a prank and then the parrot let out a big squawk.
Bueche said during the summer he will be traveling with his parents, who breed dogs, to dog shows in California and Texas.
"We are also supposed to be going to Orlando to have a lot of fun, too," he said.
Esquibel said her highlight of the year was lunchtime.
"My favorite time is lunchtime because every time there is a bunch of laughs," she said. "I know that's not really like a giant highlight; the teachers were just really fun at lunch."
What will you be doing this summer?
"I am probably going to sleep a lot and read my summer books that I have to read for high school," Esquibel said. She stayed up late studying during the school year so she has to catch up on her sleep.
The district's last-day enrollment of 12,044 was an increase of 137 over the last day enrollment of 11,907 in 2012, which was down 29 students compared to 2011.