TOWNSEND -- The last day of school brings to mind cleaned-out desks, blank bulletin boards, kids at a feverish pitch anxious to begin summer vacation, and then the empty halls after school dismisses for the last time in the school year.
The end of 2011-12 also marked the end of a 29-year teaching career for seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher David Nelson at Hawthorne Brook Middle School.
Students spoke very highly of him.
"I learned a lot from Mr. Nelson," eighth-grader Matt Tumber stated enthusiastically.
A classmate, Anna DeLeo, agreed.
"I like Mr. Nelson's sense of humor. He made learning fun," she said.
"He's hard on us... but we like him, and we actually learn things," Becca Marchand stated emphatically.
Another eighth-grader, Rachel Hazlett, stated very similar things.
"It was hard, but we learned, and we had fun while we learned," she said.
By teaching for 29 years, Nelson may have thought he saw some of the same faces more than once.
"Mr. Nelson had my dad in his class, too," Tumber said.
"I had a lot of the mothers and fathers in my classes over the years," Nelson said.
He began his teaching career in Whitinsville, at Webalmer Elementary School. He has also taught at a school in Auburn and Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School in Marlboro. He finally landed at Hawthorne Brook Middle School in 1983, where he has spent the majority of his teaching career, teaching seventh-
"This year has been a great year, a good way to end my career," said Nelson, who had nothing but praise for the staff, his colleagues and team members. "The team members are fantastic, very supportive. We get along very well... it's been a fun scene. And the whole team gels very well with the kids."
In response to questions about his retirement, Nelson was enthusiastic.
"I'm moving to England, where I have bought a house," he said. "My wife is from England, and has relatives there. And my mother lives in Northern Ireland, so it will be easier to visit her... I will come back and visit over here frequently, though. I have three adult children. One is located in Webster, Mass., the second one is located in Austin, Texas, and the third is located in California.
When Nelson was asked if there was anything in particular that he would like to say, he thought a moment and laughed. He talked about how he loves the show "The Beverly HillBillies," especially the episode about the character Jethro Bodine, finally graduating from sixth grade. Jethro stated happily: "I gradeated from the sixth grade, it was the best twelve years of my life!"
And as for Nelson, "I have finally graduated from the eighth grade, it's been the best 29 years of my life."