School’s out forever, now what?

Hundreds of balloons are released into the sky, symbolizing the high-school students leaving school and entering the real world.

Hundreds of balloons are released into the sky, symbolizing the high-school students leaving school and entering the real world.

Nina Zotina/RIA Novosti
On May 25 the Last Bell sounded for final-year school students—no more lessons or homework. What next? Final exams, college and real adult life.
In Russia, this coming-of-age moment is known as the “Last Bell”. It traditionally involves the heftiest final-year student carrying on their shoulders the prettiest first-grader, who rings a large bell.
In some Russian schools, the Last Bell is celebrated with national songs and dances, often followed by a party that lasts well into the night.
In Islamic regions of Russia, on this special day girls wear white headscarves, instead of traditional bows.
The end of school is also the end of childhood—and the beginning of adult life.
The Last Bell often coincides with Russia's traditional May showers and thunderstorms.
For many school-leavers, bathing in a fountain in sunny weather is an obligatory part of the Last Bell festivities.
School-leavers may live in the same yard or even the same apartment block, but the poignancy of the moment makes the tears flow as if this is goodbye forever.
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