The last bell of the school year has rung and the kids — as well as the teachers — are out for summer, following an end-of-the-year awards banquet Thursday.

Waxahachie ISD recognized its employees of the year, honored those who have served for decades and recognized the efforts of teachers across the district inside the Sheaffer Center on the campus of Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn opened the ceremony by recognizing the trustees in attendance — Dusty Autry, Judd McCutchen and Melissa Starnater — and Everyone Coleman, who served the district for 41 years.

He then presented the Heart of a Warrior award, which former superintendent Tom Collins started to honor an employee who “goes the extra mile.”

Glenn explained the saying dates back to the Roman Empire.

“If a Roman soldier needed his pack carried and saw a Jew, that Jew, under the law, would be required to carry that pack for one mile," Glenn said.

He added that Jesus instructed the Jews to carry the pack two miles, not just one.

“We say someone goes the extra mile now knowing that those individuals have a servants heart.”

He then presented the award to Linda Murphree, who had 39 years of service, started as a teachers aide and used to ride the school bus to work if her car would not start. Murphree also retired at the end of the year.

The district then honored its teachers and staff members of the year, which included Whitney Larza, Elementary Teacher of the Year; Jenifer Cunningham, Secondary Teacher of the Year; Paula Portwood, Support Staff of the Year; and Jackelin Ortiz, Rookie of the Year.

Sandy King, president of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, also spoke to the room on behalf of business owners across Waxahachie.

“Even though our minds are on developing business every day, our hearts and souls are in your classrooms,” King said. She then thanked the teachers, faculty, and staff for all of their dedicated work throughout the school year with the students of Waxahachie ISD.

The district also honored 18 faculty members who retired from the district with a combined 551 years in education and 386 years with WISD — an average of 29 years of service.

Retirees included Jane Hamilton, Linda Murphree, Rebecca Smith, Gail Stafford, Cheryl Stephens, Tina Cain, Diane Chapell, Nora Christ, Ora Frazier, Betty Hawkins, Jessie Hopgood, Emily Price, Bobbie Jankey, Jamie Mills, Koe Tedesco, Carl Wilke, Laveeda Bell and Kris Rencher.

The ceremony ended with Glenn asking those in attendance to choose, by a round of applause, the slogan for the 2018-19 school year.

"Luv ya Green" drew a few whispers.

And, "Waxahachie ISD Dream Big" won in a landslide of boisterous applause as Glenn released the teachers, faculty, and staff for the summer.