It’s that time of year again, when young men and women dress in caps and gowns and march into their futures.
In many ways, it’s a rite of passage that doesn’t change much from year to year.
There’ll be music, speeches, and of course, the reading of the graduates’ names.
Hundreds of diplomas will be conferred at some ceremonies, while others will have fewer than 10. The events will be held in places as varied as W.F. Edwards Stadium to the First Baptist Church sanctuary, and from the Florida State Fairgrounds to the University of South Florida Sun Dome.
Whether it’s Freedom, Steinbrenner, Land O’ Lakes, Sunlake, Pasco, Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel or Wiregrass Ranch high schools, or Academy at the Lakes, Bishop McLaughlin, Land O’ Lakes Christian or Zephyrhills Christian Academy — these ceremonies have special meaning to the graduates, their families and friends, and their teachers and administrators.
Commencement exercises tend to have a familiar feel, but each class is unique.
The Class of 2014 is filled with members of a generation when Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and Obamacare became household words.
They carry smartphones, which they use to text — not talk — to their friends and to snap selfies in every conceivable place.
This is a crop of students who have repeatedly been forced to prove what they know on standardized tests.
They’ve been witnesses to history: The beginning of a new millennium, the election of the nation’s first African-American president, the legalization of same-sex marriages in some places, and the legal sale of marijuana in others.
They’ve seen increasing conflicts abroad, rising concerns about cybersecurity and the effects that the recession has had on their family’s personal wealth.
But none of this is likely to be on their minds, as they march to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Many graduates have gone far beyond the call of duty, demonstrating their commitment to learning by achieving GPAs well beyond the 4.0 that comes from getting straight As in traditional courses. Those students tackled a more rigorous curriculum, including Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses that can earn them college credit during high school.
Marc Berson, for instance, from Freedom High, is graduating with an 8.12 GPA.
As they wrap up their high school academic career, some are planning careers in medicine, finance, pharmacy or aerospace engineering. Others aren’t sure of what path they’ll pursue, and some will wind up in careers that have not even yet been invented.
Some plan to attend exclusive colleges in faraway places, while others will attend classes closer to home at the University of South Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College, Hillsborough Community College, Saint Leo University, Rasmussen College and other local institutions.
For students living in Wesley Chapel, this will be the first graduating class to have the option of remaining in their community to attend college classes. Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, a satellite of PHSC, opened in January.
For now, though, it’s time to savor the moment, for graduates to pose for photographs with friends and families, and to enjoy celebrations, before finding a path to call their own.
Published May 28, 2014
If you want to share the graduation section with family and friends through the Internet, we put together a handy guide that will take you directly to the e-edition related to your graduate. Just click which school you’re looking for below, and we’ll get you where you need to go.
Academy at the Lakes
Bishop McLaughlin High School
Freedom High School
Land O’ Lakes Christian School
Land O’ Lakes High School
Pasco High School
Steinbrenner High School
Sunlake High School
Wesley Chapel High School
Wiregrass Ranch High School
Zephyrhills Christian Academy
Zephyrhills High School
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