They’d been hoping for good grades; not expecting goodbyes.
But for Year 13 students at Tytherington Secondary School in Macclesfield, today was, in all likelihood, their last day as pupils here.
There were some laughs, as pupils signed their names and goodbye messages on each others’ shirts.
But there were also tears, from pupils and staff.
The word “uncertain” was said, a lot.
“Surreal’, was another one.
George, 17, told me, “It’s been a really emotional time. We just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
“None of us were prepared,” Emily, 18, said, “It feels unfair it’s been cut short.”
Social distancing was forgotten, for a moment, as students hugged goodbye – for how long, no-one here knows.
The school normally has around 1,200 students.
From Monday, it’ll have around 120 – the children of key workers, the vulnerable and children from other schools, that have closed, who fit these categories.
One Year 13 pupil told me her parents were teachers too.
“What does this all mean for us as a family? What does it mean for me, about University?” she said, visibly worried.
Teachers did their best to make the day as special, and as normal, a farewell as possible.
Staff had, overnight, organised the traditional “Leavers Assemblies”, where staff made speeches and showed photo highlights of the pupils’ time at the school.
But even the headteacher, Emmanuel Botwe, couldn’t hold back the tears.
In mid-address to a group of Year 11, his voice cracked.
“It’s a really uncertain time,” he told them, “but what is certain is that you’re a great year-group.”
“I’ll see you soon,” he promised them.
The school says it will do its best to keep in touch with pupils remotely, offering virtual support where it can.
But one teacher told me it’s not so much the next few days that she’s worried about – it’s the weeks, and months to come.
“For some of the children, I don’t think it’s really sunk in,” she said, “but after the weekend I think it’s suddenly going to dawn on them.”
“That everything has changed”.