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Land O'Lakes seniors helped shape Sunlake High's identity

LUTZ — She saw many of them sporting reindeer antlers and bug costumes for elementary school plays.

She saw them go from tricycles to bicycles to skateboards and cars. She saw all their fashion faux pas from homecoming to prom.

And now Angie Stone, the principal who opened Sunlake High School in 2007, came back to say goodbye.

"I met some of you three years ago," said Stone, whose nephew, Luke Peterson, is among the 325 seniors graduating this weekend. "Others I watched grow up."

Stone, who in August will open the new Fivay High School, was the keynote speaker Wednesday morning at the Class of 2010's senior brunch. Held in the massive food court of a megachurch, it looked more like a convention seminar than a high school sendoff.

In addition to Stone's advice to dream big, work hard and never give up, the day saw reflections from the student body president, awards for community service, silly songs performed off-key, letters from friends and former teachers and signed beach chairs for the senior sponsors. "Chill-ax" was written on each chair.

"I'm going to miss you so much," wailed Allyson Norton as she hugged senior sponsor and math teacher Claribel Tejas. They go back to Norton's Girl Scout days, when Tejas led her troop.

"I wish I could go to college with you," replied Tejas, whose daughter, Chelsey, also graduates from Sunlake this year.

Over bacon and eggs, sausage and biscuits and french toast and syrup, students relived their memories.

"I started throwing stuff at you," 19-year-old Brandon Lawrence remarked to his girlfriend, Whitney Savage, 17. He was referring to lunch, when he flirted by tossing pens and pencils at Savage in the cafeteria during their junior year.

Savage recalled being less than impressed, but a month later the pair started dating.

This fall they will separate, with Lawrence attending Bethune-Cookman University near Daytona Beach to study music technology and Savage attending the University of South Florida to become a nurse.

"I'll only be three hours away," Lawrence reminded her. "We can meet in Orlando."

Student Council president Bryce Freeman recalled at the lectern how strange it felt at first to come to a new school after being at Land O'Lakes, which opened in 1975, has a perpetually winning football team and is steeped in tradition.

"It seemed everywhere we stepped the concrete was still drying," he said. "It was awkward and messy."

But the footprints left in the wet concrete belong to the Class of 2010.

"This class has had a part in creating the school's identity," he said.

Fast facts

Sunlake High Class of 2010

Graduation: 10 a.m. Saturday in the University of South Florida Sun Dome.

Projected number of graduates: 325.

Most of the class transferred to Sunlake to start their sophomore year when the school opened in 2007.

Valedictorian: Taylor Rowand, who received all A's in grades K-12.

Salutatorian: Katherine "Katie" O'Shaughnessy

Class motto: The Perfect 10

Scholarships: $2.4 million

Community service hours: 3,007 in the three years the school was open.

Land O'Lakes seniors helped shape Sunlake High's identity 06/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 9:36pm]
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