Graduates head into future
By B.C. Manion
They are members of the portable generation.
They carry their music on iPods, do class assignments on laptops and talk to each other by texting on cellphones.
During their lifetime, they’ve welcomed a new millennium and witnessed the election of the nation’s first African-American president.
And, they’ve been subjected to unprecedented levels of standardized testing, all in the name of educational accountability.
These are the kids who face skyrocketing college costs at a time when many of their parents have seen their personal wealth flattened by the Recession.
And, if the pundits are right, they are the first generation that faces a future when they won’t do as well as their parents, or live as long.
As the world continues to change around them, these high school seniors will pause to reflect and celebrate, for they are the members of the Class of 2012 and their graduation season is in full swing.
An estimated 15,400 seniors will be marching to Pomp and Circumstance at commencement ceremonies for public high schools in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
Seniors from Gaither, Steinbrenner, Freedom and Wharton in northern Hillsborough County will be accepting their diplomas at ceremonies for Hillsborough County public schools.
Meanwhile seniors from Sunlake, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch, Pasco and Zephyrhills high schools will be shifting the tassels on their graduation caps at commencement ceremonies for Central Pasco and East Pasco schools.
About 130 other seniors are in the Class of 2012 at the four private high schools serving the communities of Trinity, Odessa, Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Dade City and Zephyrhills.
Two of those private schools – Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School in Spring Hill and Carrollwood Day School in north Tampa – already have completed graduation ceremonies.
The other private schools — Land O’ Lakes Christian School and Academy at the Lakes, both in Land O’ Lakes — are set to honor their graduates in the coming week.
The venues for the ceremonies vary widely.
Land O’ Lakes Christian School will hold is graduation at the First Baptist Church of Lane O’ Lakes, while the Academy at the Lakes will honor its Class of 2012 in the school’s gymnasium.
Other settings for commencement ceremonies are the W.F. Edwards Stadium in Dade City, Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa and the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in east Tampa.
Many graduates have gone far beyond the call of duty, demonstrating their commitment to learning by achieving grade point averages well beyond the 4.0 that comes from getting straight As in traditional courses.
Those students embraced more rigorous courses, including Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses that can earn them college credit during high school.
Cory Goldman, of Wharton High, had the highest GPA in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area, attaining a GPA of 7.52. Sophia Sokolowski, valedictorian at Academy at the Lakes, which uses a cumulative numerical ranking in place of GPA, attained a cumulative numerical average of 98.7.
As these seniors wrap up their high school academic career, many look ahead with big dreams. One wants to study neuroscience, another anthropology. Others want to pursue careers in chemical engineering, marketing, education, marine biology and international affairs.
Some plan to attend exclusive colleges in faraway places. Others will stick closer to home.
For now, though, it’s time to march with their classmates, pose for pictures and cherish the time they have with their friends before setting off on their own paths.
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