LAND O'LAKES — Tyler Radford had just months to go until his graduation from Land O'Lakes High School.
"I was a semester away from graduating. Then I was like, 'I don't feel like it anymore,' " Radford explained
So he stopped doing his work. "All of it," he said. Before long, the 18-year-old Radford discovered that he needed to earn scores of more than 100 percent in every class if he was to receive the credits he needed for graduation.
Realizing the futility of the scenario, he walked away, getting his GED instead. Already, Radford sounds remorseful.
"I'm dumb," he said. "I got lazy."
Now, as most of his friends and classmates head toward graduation, he just hangs around the school, lacking anything better to do. Even with his GED, Radford sees little promise in his future. He didn't apply to any colleges — community, trade or otherwise — and he doesn't hold a full-time job.
What are his plans?
"That's the best part," he said. "I don't have any. Probably just skateboarding and living on minimum wage and stuff."
Senior Chad Habershaw, sitting nearby, suggested that Radford might have a tough time getting by.
"People do it every day," Radford replied.
Habershaw, who plans to go to art school in the fall, asked what Radford would do if he got into a relationship.
"I wasn't planning on having a family," answered Radford, who lives with his parents "at the moment" but didn't know how long that might last.
Another friend, senior Niko Monteiro, said Radford could crash with him, at least until Monteiro heads off to college in Tallahassee. After that, well, who knows?
Radford still considers himself part of the Class of 2008. He drops by from time to time to help with the yearbook, and keeps in touch with some favorite teachers.
But when it comes to graduation, he has no intention of showing up.
"It'd be like, 'Shoot, that's all my friends, and it's not me,' " he said.
"That's sad," said class valedictorian and friend Ana Hiller, who will attend the University of Florida.
"It is," Radford acknowledged. "But it's a harsh reality. It's not anyone's fault but my own."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.