Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Pasco High, honor and high jinks

DADE CITY — Tiffany Hutton felt a deep-down nervousness before Friday's graduation ceremony at Pasco High School.

It was deeper than the nerves brought on by grades or tests or even the weighty notion of impending adulthood.

"The guy I love's going to go off to war," she said. "And he can't wait."

"I'm not going to war. I'm going to the Marines," the guy she loves responded.

"There's a difference?" she wondered.

Mike Vander Krake, at age 18, has decided to join up, to leave behind his loved ones and his job at McDonald's, to serve his country.

And it's true — he can't wait.

"I guess it's just the honor," he said. "I'd really like to have that honor, that title of United States Marine. You carry that title your whole life."

Mike is one of five from Pasco High's Class of 2008 heading into the military. They're leaving their scrappy, proud high school, their tight-knit town, to pursue paths of service and bravery, and almost certainly, of war.

"It's kind of scary, but I'm ready for it," said David Roberts, who is joining the Air Force. "I have been here my whole life. I want to see as much of (the world) as I can."

Mike signed up with the Marines in September. His grades had slipped, and he thought the military was his only shot at a decent job.

Now, he has everything mapped out. He is already training for the Marines' grueling three-month boot camp, which he starts in July. He wants to become a scout sniper, which is just what it sounds like — the first guy in, who sneaks across enemy lines.

He wants to get engaged to Tiffany Hutton. He wants a son to carry on his family's name and follow his dad into the Marine Corps.

Tiffany, 17, plans to live at home and go to Saint Leo University in the fall. She wants to be an elementary school teacher. For now, she wants to spend as much time as she can with her future husband before they are separated.

Heavy stuff for a couple of kids in caps and gowns.

All around them Friday evening, their classmates took pictures and sent text messages and fidgeted with their mortarboards. Then the procession finally began, from the gym to the football field, under a brilliant sky left by a flash thunderstorm. Inside the stadium, a charged crowd of a thousand awaited them.

The graduates listened to songs and speeches and were cheered by their families when their names were read aloud.

Crossing the small stage and grasping their diplomas, they smiled big. Some did little dances or stopped to hug a teacher. They stood together for a classmate who died only weeks ago.

At Mike's turn, he looked serene. As he walked, the dogtag around his neck bounced lightly against his chest.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

>>Class of 2008

Pasco High School

Number of graduates: 249

Number of Bright Futures scholars: 50

Amount of scholarship money: $1.6-million

Two things about Pasco High School graduates:

• Five are joining U.S. armed forces

• 46 percent are headed to two-year colleges; 25 percent to four-year colleges

At Pasco High, honor and high jinks 06/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 1:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sen. John McCain's type of cancer did not slow Tampa woman

    Health

    TAMPA —When 35-year-old Beth Caldwell heard about Sen. John McCain's brain tumor this week, she hoped he would stay positive.

    That's what helped her, she said.

    Beth Caldwell, 35, and her sons Gavin, 10, and Triston, 7. Caldwell had surgery to remove an aggressive brain tumor three years ago. [Photo Courtesy of Beth Caldwell]
  2. A week later, the lengthy, costly rebuilding plan for the Pasco sinkhole begins

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — A week after a massive sinkhole opened in Pasco County, county officials have begun planning the long-term cleanup, which could take months and millions of dollars.

    A sinkhole in Land O'Lakes, Fla., is seen Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The sinkhole ?‘ already one of the largest in Pasco County in decades ?‘ measures about 235 feet in width and 50 feet in depth, with the potential to expand further.
  3. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection

    Wildlife

    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  4. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  5. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.