Last Day of School

Natalie Henigman, 8, plays a clapping game with second-grade teacher Tyler Eischen at a barbecue Thursday at Hyalite Elementary.

Hyalite Elementary School students celebrated the end of the school year with cleaning up the playground, enjoying a barbecue and dancing to *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.”

Teachers and kids alike hugged each other and shed a few tears at an all-school assembly.

Ivy Tollefson, 9, summed up the bittersweet feeling.

“It’s exciting because we get to go into the grade above, but it’s sad because I’ll miss Ms. Hirsch as a teacher,” Ivy said.

Thursday was the final day of the school year for kindergarten through 11th grade at local schools. For Hyalite school, that also meant saying goodbye to 11 teachers and staff. Principal Mike Van Vuren gave each teacher flowers at the assembly and students sang “Happy Trails” by Roy Rogers.

Fifth-grader Ginny Dunnington, 11, organized a last day of school cleanup. She said she was inspired on Earth Day to pick up all of the trash she saw on the playground.

“It’s not very pretty to look at, and we get to clean it up and make our school better for next year,” Ginny told her classmates at the assembly.

Ginny said she hopes the idea will catch on.

“If every school could do this, it’d be a good thing,” she said.

Armed with trash bags, kids walked the perimeter of the school and picked up food wrappers, cans and even a deflated football.

The school’s Thrive liaison, Libby Hansen, said the end of the year is a good time to start planning summer activities.

“There are so many fun things for kids to do in Bozeman,” Hansen said.

Gallatin Valley Food Bank offers free lunches and outdoor games in the summer for kids 18 and under at parks in Bozeman, Belgrade and Three Forks. Lunches follow U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines, and no application is needed to participate. The program is offered Monday through Friday beginning June 10.

A full list of locations can be found at or by calling 406-586-7600.

Bozeman School District is challenging students kindergarten through second grade to read 100 books over the summer and bring a tally sheet to their school librarian in the fall. Libraries at Emily Dickinson, Hyalite and Meadowlark will be open during the summer Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thrive, a mentoring and education program, also offers free summer programs like Dynamite Dads. Every third Wednesday of the month, dads and father figures can bring kids to this event for an activity and free dinner.

Past activities have included fishing at Bozeman Pond and football with the Bobcats. More information can be found at or by calling 406-587-3840.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.