New fourth graders

Left to right: Serenity Anderson, Talia Rhodes (obstructed from view), third grade teacher Cynthia Annorh, Kyndle Beauchamp and Kendall Rhodes take a selfie to celebrate the girls' ascension to fourth grade at Ray School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., June 22.

Public schools across Chicago ended the academic year on June 22, giving students their much-anticipated summer vacations until Aug. 30.

Ray School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., gave away books, ice cream and lost-and-found goods to the departing students before they left for the summer.

Like every Chicago Public Schools student, Ayodeji Griffin's son, Lionel Fujisawa Jr., who just finished kindergarten, began this school year learning remote. Griffin, who teaches at the York Alternative High School in the Cook County Jail, knew she would have to teach in person when the upper grades began in-person learning, and so sent her son to in-person instruction in April.

Griffin said her son did make friends in his kindergarten class, even though much of it happened remotely, and that she is still friends with kindergarten classmates from the 1970s. "I just want him to always have the opportunity to stay close with his kindergarten class. I think that's important," she said. 

"COVID really made a difference," Griffin said. "With them having some after-school activities, where they could come and actually get together, meet face-to-face and have eye contact, they developed a friendship. I don't want that to end, so we're going to establish playdates over the summer, outings, even just park play. Just simple things."

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