Djuan Brooks' feet barely touched pavement as the final bell rang yesterday in the empty corridors of the Francis Scott Key Elementary and Middle School.
Eager to get to a basketball game a few blocks away at the South Baltimore Recreation Center on Light Street, the 10-year-old was moving as fast as his feet would carry him.
Djuan was one of about 70 students who attended the last day of school at Key elementary. More than 480 students stayed away yesterday, according to principal Arthur P. Chenoweth.
"The award ceremonies for our students were held Wednesday afternoon," Mr. Chenoweth said, "so I guess a lot of them slept in late today instead of coming to school."
Classes in Baltimore city public schools were dismissed at noon yesterday. At Key Elementary, however, many students lingered the parking lot for a few minutes, saying goodbye to friends.
"I'm going to miss them," said Djuan, who hopes to perfect his jump shot at the recreation center this summer. Dressed in a bright orange T-shirt and matching shorts, he was heading to the center with his cousin, David Smith.
Some of the students leaving Key elementary said they had more than fun and games on their minds this summer. Harvey Mabe and his cousin, James Jones, both 13, said they were going to start their own business mowing lawns. "We charge $10 to $20, depending on how high the grass is," said Harvey, who completed the sixth grade this year. "We don't have any customers yet, but we're looking."
Work and play were on the minds of many Baltimore students yesterday.
Shana LeVere, 15, a student at Edmondson-Westside High School on Baltimore's West Side, said she is looking for a part-time job as a cashier. In her spare time, she plans to visit friends and family.
"I'm going to have cookouts at my cousin's house and go swimming at my aunt's," said Shana, who was helping clean the locker room at the vocational school yesterday.
Her classmate, Timothy Pittman, 16, said he will be a volunteer career counselor for Edmondson's Career Technology Summer Camp next month, to fulfill the state's community service requirement. Students enrolled in Maryland's public schools must complete 75 hours of community service before graduating.
"I enjoy helping the kids," said Timothy, who worked as a paid counselor last year.
About 430 seventh and eighth grade students will attend this year's day camp, said Edmondson's principal, Irby Miller. Those participating in the program, slated to run for five weeks, will be exposed to a variety of trades -- including cosmetology, computer technology, and Timothy's area of interest, auto mechanics.
About half of Edmondson's 1,150 students showed up for the last day of school. Some, like Shana, helped clean the building. Others took make-up exams or chatted with friends.
In Room 105 of Edmondson's academic building, Arielle Snowden, 14, corrected a classmate's biology exam while her friend, Ernestine Porter, waited patiently.
"The last day of school is always fun," Ernestine said. "There's hardly anyone here and you get to say goodbye to everyone."
Ernestine and Arielle won't see each other this summer. Arielle will visit her sister in North Carolina, while Ernestine stays in Baltimore.
"I'm going to go take my little sister to the park," said Ernestine. But she plans to try to keep busy. She has applied to Checkers restaurant and Pick and Pay, a shoe store, and hopes to get at least one part-time job.
"My mom's been supporting me all my life," she said. "I'm old enough now to get a job and maybe help her out, instead of her always helping me."