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Hernando High 2012 graduate: 'I can't wait. I can't wait to graduate and be on my own.'

Zachary Sullivan, 18, graduates tonight from Hernando High School. He plans to attend Trinity College in New Port Richey.

PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE | Special to the Times

Zachary Sullivan, 18, graduates tonight from Hernando High School. He plans to attend Trinity College in New Port Richey.

BROOKSVILLE — Zachary Alan Sullivan graduates from Hernando High School tonight, leaving behind a heavily athletic life as he moves on to college and a future helping others.

"I guess my dream job would be to open up my own counseling service," the 18-year-old said.

Sullivan has enjoyed high school, especially athletics.

"I've always been very involved in sports," he said.

He played football for four years, was in wrestling for three years and did some weight lifting.

But he has no intention of pursuing football in college, preferring to open another chapter in his life.

"The memories from football in high school fulfilled my football-playing dreams," he said.

And he would prefer not to get hurt again.

Sullivan suffered a concussion during his high school career, leaving him not knowing where or who he was. Things began to come back during his ambulance ride to the hospital.

"Guys do that all the time," Sullivan said. "Enough of those, you can really get messed up."

Hernando High officials identified Sullivan as a student who stood out in this year's senior class. He offered his thoughts about that.

"I've never been to (in-school suspension); never been written up. I guess I've always tried to be as perfect as I can," he said.

Sullivan plans to attend Trinity College in New Port Richey in the fall. He will focus on counseling and pastoral studies.

"I can't wait. I can't wait to graduate and be on my own," he said. "It's a little scary, but it's also exciting. I have to learn to cook, learn to grocery shop and learn not to spend all my money in one place. That's going to be the biggest thing."

Interestingly, Sullivan plans to attend Trinity with his buddy, classmate Zachary Alan Pritz — same first and middle names.

Sullivan has had a little bit of a head start in his pastoral studies. He was part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school, and during free time he could often be found at what he called the Barn, where he attends services and meets monthly with other young people.

"We do a lot of stuff through the community," he said.

As he exits high school tonight, Sullivan realizes what he is leaving.

"I'm going to definitely miss the football program, all my coaches, all my teachers (and) my friends, because, quite possibly, I may never see them again," he said.

Sullivan is a product of Hernando County Schools. He was born in Brooksville and has lived there his entire life. His mother, father, stepfather and paternal grandparents all graduated from Hernando High. He went to Eastside Elementary and Parrott Middle schools.

Sullivan is the son and stepson of Penny and Robert Bryson and Richard and Toni Sullivan, all of Brooksville.

"They live 2 miles from each other," Sullivan said. "It's just like having four parents. They definitely raised me right."

Hernando High 2012 graduate: 'I can't wait. I can't wait to graduate and be on my own.' 06/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:17am]
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