Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A year full of firsts ends for Sunlake High School

Brittany Fauntleroy, 18, jokes around with her friends at graduation practice at Sunlake High School on Thursday.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Brittany Fauntleroy, 18, jokes around with her friends at graduation practice at Sunlake High School on Thursday.

LAND O'LAKES — Pomp and Circumstance blared through the speakers in the Sunlake High gym Thursday as the school's first graduating class milled in the entry way.

The seniors on the right were lined up and ready to go. On the left, not so much.

"Get in the order you were sitting!" shouted graduation coordinator Barbara Long. "Where's Samantha? Why are you out of order?"

Sitting at the stage, principal Angie Stone shook her head.

"This," she said quietly, "is why we rehearse."

Stone has overseen a high school graduation before. But not at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, and not for Sunlake High. And because it's Sunlake's debut senior class, she wants it to be special.

So practice is key, particularly because the school is trying a couple of unusual things for the 248 graduates.

It's letting them sit by their friends (instead of in alphabetical order) so they might enjoy the ceremony a bit more. The only caveat is that the boys and girls have to sit in certain seats, so when they wear their caps and gowns — boys in black, girls in teal — they spell out "09."

Each student also submitted some comments to be read about themselves when they are presented for their diploma.

"It makes it much more personal," said Ellery Christensen, who plans to take courses at Hillsborough Community College and USF in the fall. "Most people (mention) their parents. They'll be in the stands going, 'Oh, my baby!' Especially my mother. I'm the youngest and the only girl."

She sat reminiscing with classmate Michael Johnson about their years together. They laughed about their favorite class activities (dissecting a cat) and favorite coaches (swimming), and looked forward to the future.

"I haven't made any plans," said Michael, who holds the school record in the breast stroke. "I don't think it's going to really hit me until I walk across the stage."

Many in the class had fond feelings for Sunlake, but still felt a bit of remorse about being forced to leave Land O'Lakes High two years ago when Sunlake opened.

"At first, I did not like it at all," said Marlon Dimaio, who plans to attend Pasco-Hernando Community College in the fall. "After a while I got used to it, and now I like coming to this school."

Having friends there with him made the transition easier. The teachers helped, too, said Munerah Madi.

"They knew it was hard for us to transfer schools," said Munerah, who plans to study photography at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. "They made it as easy as possible."

And now that they're graduating, they're proud of their accomplishments and the fact that they set the bar high for future senior classes.

"We trying to set the standard for years to come," said Megan Herbst, who will study at St. Petersburg College in the fall.

Archie Hemmingway, who wants to attend Embry-Riddle in the fall, said he was thrilled to be part of it.

"I think it's pretty amazing to be the first class," he said. "Especially at this school. It's a really good school."

For the record, the class eventually did put together an organized processional.

Sure, a few skipped up the aisle. Several held hands and acted silly. A couple pretended to trip and fall.

But after a second try, they were keeping in line and moving quickly enough to beat the music to the end. And just in case, they have another practice this morning.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Graduation season is here

Pasco County will conduct its high school graduations all weekend long. Here's the schedule:

Today

River Ridge, 6 p.m., school gym

Gulf, 7 p.m., Calvary Worship Center

Ridgewood, 7 p.m., school gym

Pasco, 7:30 p.m., school stadium

Hudson, 8 p.m., school stadium

Saturday

Land O'Lakes, 11 a.m., USF Sun Dome

Wesley Chapel, 3 p.m., USF Sun Dome

Mitchell, 7 p.m., USF Sun Dome

Sunday

Wiregrass Ranch, noon, USF Sun Dome

Zephyrhills, 3:30 p.m., USF Sun Dome

Sunlake, 7 p.m., USF Sun Dome

A year full of firsts ends for Sunlake High School 05/28/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 11:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

    Crime

    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally