Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane Katrina couldn't stop this Springstead senior from succeeding

Elise Boyles has enjoyed acting in plays at Springstead High. “I love memorizing the pieces and seeing what you can do with it,” she says.


Elise Boyles has enjoyed acting in plays at Springstead High. “I love memorizing the pieces and seeing what you can do with it,” she says.

SPRING HILL — Elise Boyles had conquered the first two weeks of eighth grade when Hurricane Katrina came calling with a lifetime's worth of real-world lessons.

About 2:30 a.m. on the day the storm hit, Boyles piled into a Ford Explorer with her mother, stepfather and stepsister to flee their home in Slidell, La. Boyles brought little more than some clothes and a box of photographs.

The family headed to Florida and watched images of the Gulf Coast devastation from the home of relatives in Masaryktown. A month later, they drove back to Slidell to recover what they could. The wind and trees tore holes in the roof and ever-thickening mold made the place uninhabitable.

The family was already reeling from the loss of Boyles' 10-month-old brother Logan, who died from complications of birth defects that July. Boyles' stepfather, Jarrod Marquez — Boyles calls him "Daddy" — had been seriously injured on his construction job earlier in the year and couldn't work.

Marquez suggested the family start over in Florida.

"I love change, so I was excited about it," Boyles recalled recently.

Five years and four schools later, she will march into Springstead High's stadium today to accept her diploma with high honors.

"We may have lost most of our personal belongings," Boyles wrote in an essay for the St. Petersburg Times Fund's Barnes Scholarship, "but compared to the strength we discovered we had together, I knew we would make it through."

When Boyles came to Florida the first time, she and stepsister Jessica attended classes at Parrott Middle School in Brooksville.

Boyles missed Slidell's familiar vibe, but the outpouring of support from Hernando residents surprised her. People donated food, school supplies, clothes and school uniforms. A friend of their extended family donated a small white pickup.

When the family came back for good, she enrolled at Fox Chapel Middle and finished eighth grade there. Before she left, her classmates at Parrott wrote her a note of encouragement.

The family found a two-bedroom house in Weeki Wachee, and Boyles' younger sister Victoria, who was living with her father in Ohio, came down to join the family.

Boyles spent her freshman year at Central High. She fell in love with the thespian club. "It's the one thing that's really just fun to me," she said. "I love memorizing the pieces and seeing what you can do with it."

At the time, Angel Marquez was pregnant with Emily, now 3 years old. The family struggled with a tight budget.

"They were there for me as much as I was there for them," Angel, a trial clerk for Pasco County, said of her daughters. Elise helped show the way. "She's always stepped into that leader role."

The family found a larger house in Spring Hill, which for Boyles meant a transfer to Springstead. She hated to leave the acting program at Central, but it didn't take long to settle into her new school. She took an acting class as a sophomore, made the junior varsity cheerleading team and competed with the French Club.

As a junior, Boyles joined the Environmental Club and bonded with the Weeki Wachee River. She volunteered last year for the Relay for Life as a member of National Honor Society and this year as a member of the Interact Club.

She took Drama III with teacher Rebecca Pusta this year. Pusta said she only recently found out about Boyles' struggles. "I was shocked," Pusta said.

Boyles had roles in two short plays based on the tragedies of Sept. 11. In With Their Eyes, she had a monologue of the real-life recollections of a teacher in a New York City high school.

Pusta said she often shies away from having high school students stretch beyond their age range, but Boyles pulled it off.

Boyles wasn't one to constantly crunch numbers to track her class standing. Only this year did she realize the opportunities created by her academic success, said guidance counselor Jeff Perkins.

Boyles has earned about $22,500 in scholarship money on top of a Bright Futures award. She won $1,000 as a runner-up for the Barnes Scholarship given to high academic achievers who have overcome significant obstacles.

"Thank God," Angel Marquez, who is due to have a boy in August, said of the scholarship money. Money is still tight, and Jarrod Marquez is still struggling to get worker's compensation for his injuries.

Bound for the University of Florida, Boyles is thinking about a major in international studies and business with a minor in theater, but she loves the thought of helping people through psychological counseling. And she admits, with a self-conscious laugh, that she dreams of the title of "executive imagineer," a Disney staffer who oversees the design and construction of the company's theme parks, resorts and venues.

Tonight, though, she savors a shining moment born of many stormy struggles.

"I did it."

Springstead High School

Commencement begins at 7:30 tonight at the school, 3300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill

Valedictorian: Christopher Sarabalis

GPA: 4.61

Parents: John and Suzanne Sarabalis

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Field of Study: Mechanical and electrical engineering

Salutatorian: Emily Harlan

GPA: 4.48

Parents: Holly Harlan and David Caseau

College: University of Florida

Field of Study: Biology

Rounding out the Top 10

3. Megan England

4. Phil Lakin

5. Jennifer Draganchuk

6. Christopher Kelley

7. Kelly Dutton

8. Amanda DiLorenzo

9. Jacob Kelley

10. Olivia Gustafson

Springstead High School Class of 2010

Danielle Adams

Joshua Adams

Matthew Adams

Marina Addario

Shaun Agostinacchio

Danielle Agostino

Peter Alaimo

David Alberts

Jacqueline Alexander

Nicholas Allegra

Brooke Allen

Lindsay Allen

Chyna Allison

Russell Alonzo

Kelsey Anderson

Lauren Andre

Chelsey Anello

Lindsey Anthony

Samantha Apostolou

Daniel Arias

Jessica Armijo

Jazmyn Armstrong

Tyler Arroyo

Karolann Atkins

Tanya Austin


Angela Bahn

Nicholas Bailey

Shelbie Baker

Jenifer Balcolm

Jamielee Basinger

Grace-Marie Batterbee

Kayla Baxter

Emily Beach

Justin Beal

Michael Bell Jr.

Shannon Bell

Christina Bellino

Christopher Berkey

Taylor Black

Jessica Blomgren

Victoria Boccio

Erika Boone

Justin Borkowski

Steven Borkowski

David Boylan

Athena Boyle

Elise Boyles

Christopher Britton

Karen Britton

Juanita Brooks

Misha Brooks

Carlton Brown

Clayton Brown

Kourtnee Brown

Tyler Burich

Shebastian Burley


Alfonso Cabrera

Randy Cadwalader

Bryan Camacho

James Campbell

Squane Cannon

Shannon Caphart

Robert Caponi

Daniella Carpenter

Alexandra Carreiro

Autumn Carter

Trevor Cartwright

Richard Casey-Otagaki

Yandy Castillo

Kristen Catasus

Matthew Cermak

Paris Chapman

Christopher Churay

Dominique Ciappetta

Samantha Clark

Craig Cluney

Danielle Coghill

Kelly Collins

Edward Colon Jr.

Ashley Correia

Marc Coulter

Kaley Craig

Joni-Marie Crossan

Brittney Cruz

Destiny Cruz

Robert Cunningham


Olivia D'Acunto

Megan Daniels

Michael Davis

Rachel De La Cruz

Sasha De La Rosa

Mario Delpozzo

Andrew Denobrega

Kevin Dewitt

Sara Deyoung

Marshall Dillon

Amanda Dilorenzo

Jack Diven

Jenna Donohue

Brittany Downend

Craig Downing

Jennifer Draganchuk

Amanda Drawe

Callie Duncan

Bianca Dungan

Marilou Duran

Kelly Dutton

Patrick Dwyer


Stephanie Edwards

Vera Edwards

Thomas Ellerbee

Stephanie Ellis

Robert Ellwood

Megan England

Tiffany Errichetto

Armando Espinosa-Naidoo

Jonathan Esser

Jennifer Estrada

Austin Evans


Francisco Ferrer

Jessica Ferrero

Thomas Feuillebois

Shelby Fink

Amy Fischer

Hayley Fisher

Gabrielle Fissell

Deanna Fitzgerald

Craig Flannery

Lameek Floyd

Chyanne Fonte

Katelyn Foote

Michael Forgach

Eric Fotopoulos

Kristine Fredrickson

Mark Fruzia

Drew Fulcher


Lazaro Gala

Heidi Garcia

Samantha Garey

Tyler Gerard

Samantha Gibson

Walter Gibson Jr.

Cristine Gilbert

Tyler Glass

Keishla Gonzalez

Nelson Gotera

Matthew Gozdziewski

Isabelle Grace

Michelle Granda

Christopher Grech

Ellysa Gregory

Clarisse Guilbert

Anthony Guiler

Pennie Guinta

Olivia Gustafson


Samantha Hagan

Nicholas Haglund

Jennifer Hallal

Edward Hamilton

Benjamin Hardy

Emily Harlan

Marc Haslam

Heather Hefferan

Mariah Henderson

Carissa Henriques

Samantha Hernandez

Maria Herrera

Taylor Hess

Lindsay Hice

Nicole Hickey

Max Hitzemann

Michell Hobbs

Kaitlin Hodge

Michael Hogeland

Miranda Hoover

Samantha Horsley

Tiffany Hughes

Jordan Hunter

Ro-Jaye Hyatt


Matthew Ingargiola

Neil Ingenito

Xierra Itayem


Joshua Jacobs

Michael Jacobs

Brooke Johns

Callie Johnson

Dominick Johnson

Jamie Johnson

Jasmine Johnson

Tammi Johnson

Cody Jones

Nicholas Jones

Kaitlin Julia

Justina Juliano


Jennifer Kacprzynski

Justin Keene

Christopher Kelley

Jacob Kelley

Sache Kennerly

Patrick Kenney

Chelsea Kenny

Katelin Killory

Chelsea Kimbrell

Urban Kirk II

Jason Knoer

Kaela Koch

Christopher Kodetsky

Samantha Kraeuter

Samantha Krisa

Amanda Kryk


Rachel Lackie

Alyssa Ladouceur

Dana La Franca

Jennifer Lai

Philip Lakin III

Betty Lancaster

Donald Langdon

Melissa Laraque

Benjamin Larison

Kaitlin Lariviere

Tyler Larratta

Kelly Larsson

Andrew Laubsch

James Laverty

Milo Leaman

Kristen Lescio

Michael Letchworth III

Michael Libenson,

Denise Lightbody

Sara Linstad

William Litchfield

Stephanie Lloyd

Mark Lombardi-Nelson

Justin Longden

Andres Lopez

George Lopez

Rysell Lopez

Shantel Lowman

Stephanie Lugo


Shanon Machado

Philip Machnicki

Marissa Mack

Edward Maldonado

Karron Maragh

Marissa Marise

Adreanna Marks

Taylor Martell

Vicky Martinez

Kaytlin Mason

Cynthia Matanzo

Michael Mateo

Fernando Matos

Katelyn Mauro

Kimberly Mauro

Kristin Mauro

Patrick McCarthy

Siobhan McCray

Ryan McDermott

Louis McKay

Christopher McKinney

Jordan Melton

Patrick Mentry

Steven Merrick

Chantalle Milledge

Daniel Miller

Justin Mintz

Mohamed Mohamed

Maximillian Molina

Renee Montague

Brittany Morgan

Catherine Morrison

Deborah Muller

Cori Munrow

Danielle Murphy

Phillip Murphy

Ryan Murphy


Adina Nadav

Nestor Nazario

Andrea Nicoll


Iza O'Neal

Tasheen Ortiz

Kirsty Osborne

Kyle Ott


Lynda Pagan

Justin Pagano

Elizabeth Pallone

Louis Palma IV

Carol Palmer

Victoria Panochko

Erin Parkes

Maria Parra-Londono

Christina Passafaro

Joshua Peirce

Hector Pena

Jeffrey Pennett

Ana Perez

Glorimarie Perez

Zachary Peterman

Gina Phillips

Natasha Phillips

Raphael Pintavalle

Joseph Pisano

Laura Poholek

Caitlin Polcaro

Brittany Polk

Stephanie Price

Kevin Provo

Giuseppe Pugliese Jr.

Paul Pullen


Cally Quinn

Christian Quinones


Andrew Raddish

Brian Ramos

Felix Ramos

Jeannette Ramos

Josiah Ramsey

Aaron Randall

Debora Raposo

Diana Raposo

Christopher Recio

Petra Rey

Jessica Richards

Breauna Richey

Danny Rivera

Dianna Rivera

Emily Rivera

Jose Rivera

Michael Rivera

Anthony Roberts

Chereka Roberts

Alyssia Robinson

Tyrone Robinson

Nicholas Rodriguez

Roberto Rodriguez

Sarah Rodriguez

Destiny Rolfingsmeyer

Melissa Roman

Michael Rosenzweig

Jennifer Rosino

Crystal Russell

Shelby Russell

Matthew Ryan

Samantha Ryan


Ryan Sabaski

Ray Sands

Brian Santiago

Ivanna Santos

Christopher Sarabalis

Samantha Sawhill

Stephanie Schoening

Sandra Schofield

Taylor Schoonmaker

Jacqueline Schulaski

Amber Sechser

Caleb Shellabarger

Walter Shelmet III

Holly Sheppard

Tyler Shields

Christine Sigua

Anna Silva

Cierra Simmons

Alexandra Smith

Andrew Smith

Dylan Smith

Ashley Southall

Lance Spann

Larissa Spiller

Amy Stagliano

Steven Stanton

Nicholas Steadman

Ashley Stevens

Matthew Stia

Molly Storts

Charles Stumpf

Steven Sullivan

Richard Sundell

Kendall Suter

Amanda Szatkowski


Andrew Taylor

Joshua Thomas

Gina Thompson

Jason Thompson

Linda Thompson

Ivan Torre

Jocelyn Torres

Secely Torres

Amy Tousignant

Garrett Traynham

Alyxanndria Triplett

Robert Trondsen

Chelsea Turner


Sarah Urso


Edward Valencia

Anthony Van Styn

Seth Varner

Alycia Vasquez

Jerika Vazquez

Edgar Vega

Carlos Velez

Elizabeth Velez

Elizabeth Vergona

James Vizcarrondo Jr.

Bethany Vovan


Mercedes Waddy

Aron Walasek

Terry Wald

David Waldron

Jaime Walker

Steven Walker

Evy Walsh

Nicole Walsh

Michael Ward

Rebecca Ward

Caitlin Warner

John Watson

Mitchell Weber

Felicia Wheeler

Dominic White

Jaclyn White

Laura White

Brittany Wilcox

Trevor Wild

Crystal Williams

Kenneth Wilson Jr.

Lauren Wynne


Kyle Yoerg

Susan Young


Lidia Zambrano

Hurricane Katrina couldn't stop this Springstead senior from succeeding 06/10/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party


    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Our president, our protests


    Our president has done more to foster national anthem protests than the protestors.

  3. Trump: Objection to NFL protests 'has nothing to do with race'


    MORRISTOWN, New Jersey — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but …

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but has to do with "respect for our country and respect for our flag." [Associated PRss]
  4. World War II vet, 97, takes a knee in support of anthem protests

    Human Interest

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation's attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.

    Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran's cap. [Twitter]
  5. Florida education news: Shelter duty, charter schools, teacher pay and more


    ON THE JOB TRAINING: Michael Vasallo learns how to run an evacuation shelter on his 21st day as principal of Dunedin Highland Middle School.

    First year principal Michael Vasallo, right, got called into hurricane shelter duty one month into his job.