The storm before the calm hit Catonsville Elementary School at 11:45 a.m. on Friday.

At the side of the school on Frederick Road, a dozen students waited to hand blue recycling bins filled with paper to a teacher who dumped them into a nearly-full, large metal receptacle.

All was quiet. Mostly.

Then, less than 30 minutes later, students poured out of the school, wearing smiles and shouting in relief and anticipation of the good times that awaited them.


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Skylar Bacon finished her last day of first grade and was going to celebrate by going to the pool.

"It's going to be very fun, because we're going to order pizza at the pool for dinner," she said as she stood outside the school with her mother.

Skylar said her summer will include camp on the nearby campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a trip to Oregon to visit cousins.

But trips to the pool is what she looked forward to the most, she said.

Deven Patel offered a simple rule to survive first grade — "Listen to the teacher and do it."

Once he'd finished his snack, he planned to kick off his summer by playing video games and going outside, he said.

The rest of Deven's summer will be filled with trips to the beach and museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, he said.

"It feels good," Deven said of completing the school year and having months of vacation ahead of him.

Alonnah Griffith will celebrate her break before entering fourth grade next fall by going on a road trip to visit family in Texas, Kansas and Kentucky.

She said she will miss her teachers, but she's also looking forward to going to the pool and playing with her classmates who live near her house.

The best part?

"I get no homework and I don't have to be in a really hot school," she said.