We have several year-end traditions at our school. One very simple one is our “Whistle Dismissal” on the last day of school. As the school buses leave the parking lot, staff members blow whistles, use the siren mode of our bullhorn, and generally make as much noise as possible, celebrating the end of the school year. Students love it!
We usually have track & field day on the last Friday of the school year, with our school picnic that evening. Parents appreciate not using up a precious Saturday for a picnic, and many of them make it a point to be there for at least part of the day to watch the events, assist in judging events, and socializing with the other parents.
On the evening of the very last day of school (Thursday), students in Grades 7-12 go camping overnight. Teachers chaperone, but students plan (and bring) the food and do the cooking. The boys really rough it–cooking (lots of bacon, of course) over the fire. The girls go to a local cabin with a small kitchen and real bathrooms, but not enough beds for nearly everyone. This is a great way for Jr. High and High School students to interact, especially with the 8th grade students who will be joining the HS ranks in August.
The camping tradition is more than 20 years old at this school, and though we’ve needed to make changes to make it work with the growth of the school, the above format has worked for us for the past few years. We keep a large tote with camping essentials in storage for each group, with a checklist of contents taped to the lid. The chaperones are responsible to make sure all items are included in the tote when they leave, and that they get restocked and put back into storage after camping.