A total of 634,964 middle- and high-school students from across the country, among them 102,541 12th graders ending their school days forever, received their report cards on Wednesday and joyfully began their summer vacation. In the south of the country, however, the happiness of the vacation was mixed with anxiety over the incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
"It's a routine we are used to living with already," said Bar, an 11th grade student from the Eshkol region, near the Gaza Strip border. "There is a ‘Color Red' [the code name for the alarm warning of an approaching rocket], we go into the fortified rooms, and then we move on."
Bar added that due to the tense situation an end-of-the-year class party was canceled, and that the graduation ceremony was difficult because most of the students were sleep-deprived and drowsy from having been kept awake by alarms the previous night.
"There were sirens in the middle of the night and we couldn’t really sleep,” Bar said. “Our plans [for the party] were ruined and we all came to school tired. It has pretty much spoiled the mood for the first day of summer vacation."
Bar said he intended to take a break with his friends in Eilat and to work over the summer and save money for his class trip to Poland for the March of the Living in the coming school year, which begins Aug. 27. "Most of the time we'll stay here, even if the security situation gets worse," he said. “Being at home with friends is the best, and anyway, we're already used to this."
Despite the official beginning of the summer vacation, some matriculation examinations are still being held through June and July. Maayan, an 11th grader due to take a matriculation exam in physics next week, said the constant alarms had not only ruined the beginning of her summer, but had made it hard to study for the difficult test.
"I was supposed to study, but I couldn't get up because of the sleepless night we had," she said. "I know that summer vacation for other kids living in other parts of the country looks different, but what can you do about it? Our summer break is dependent on the security situation. With that, we don’t let the situation bum us out."