Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sunlake High's pioneer class brought spirit into building

Sunlake senior Daniel Stanley cheers after hearing that he’d receive the school’s Spirit Stick during the senior brunch in Lutz on Tuesday.


Sunlake senior Daniel Stanley cheers after hearing that he’d receive the school’s Spirit Stick during the senior brunch in Lutz on Tuesday.

They started out as the inaugural freshman class at a brand-new school. Newly drawn school boundaries brought them together. So did a desire to make their mark on a blank campus.

There were no seniors back then, no school spirit to build upon. Many students in the upper classes were still feeling the pull of the high schools they had previously attended. But Sunlake High's Class of 2011 was raring to go.

They stepped up in a big way. Started new clubs. Forged new traditions. Donned the school colors — teal and black — and took the lead at pep rallies and in the stands at sports events.

When senior year rolled around, they decided to come out as they came in, pulling together and overwhelmingly winning the coveted "Spirit Stick" during Homecoming week — the first senior class in the school's short history to do so. When one of their classmates, football player Alexander Rodriguez died suddenly, they comforted each other and held each other up, said senior class sponsor and drama teacher Carla Nolan.

"We've grown up with Sunlake," said student body president and Outstanding Senior Elaina Graham, as fellow students filed in Tuesday morning for a celebratory senior brunch at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. "We've got some good spirit here. We didn't have the shadow of Land O'Lakes High hanging over us. None of us went (to school) there. We're the first class to claim ownership, the first class to feel like this was our school, to shape it and change it."

Now they are dubbed "The TRUE Class."

It's a well-earned honor, according to Nolan. She should know. She's watched them from the beginning.

They include kids like Hope Boyd, who choreographed the winning senior skit during Homecoming Week and now looks forward to "some great things" like opening her own dance studio someday.

Drama Club president Hayden Baker was "Kenickie" in this year's production of Grease. He pored through hundreds of submitted pictures and created the senior class video and will soon leave for the University of Central Florida to study film.

Chess team member David Domingo made the school proud and will head to the state competition in the coming weeks.

Megan Garvey was always willing to help out, serving in various positions on Student Council and helping plan last year's prom and this year's grad bash.

And Daniel Stanley was known for rousing the crowd with his "crazy loud voice," starting the wave at countless school sporting events and dressing up in a makeshift "Seahawks" mascot costume cobbled together with cardboard and feathers before the school came through with the real thing.

"I love them so much," Nolan said, taking time out to share one more hug with graduate Aaron Caracciolo. "They are all phenomenal. They came into a building that basically looked like a prison and made it a home. They love each other. Support each other. They sort of paved the way."

Michele Miller can be reached at

.If you go

Sunlake High School

Graduation will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Tampa Convention Center.

Projected graduates: 330.

Scholarships: $2,019,334.80 based on highest possible award amounts, renewed - if applicable.

Valedictorian: Sarah Collins

Salutatorian: Roger Prough

Outstanding Senior: Elaina Graham

Senior class president: Chelsea Sparks

Super Seniors: Kris Allen, Megan Garvey, Elaina Graham, Chelsea Sparks, Sada Bramwell, Hayden Baker, Jonathon Calton, Morgan Kweller, Krystle Parks and Chanda Robinson


Sunlake High School sports ranked top 20 in FHSAA state winter sports for boys basketball 4A (7th); girls basketball 4A (9th); boys soccer 4A (10th); and wrestling 2A (7th). While the final spring sports results are not in, the following varsity teams had an overall GPA high enough to qualify: softball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and boys weightlifting.

Megan Huyhn and Matt Wolfe were named male and female "U.S. Marine Athlete of the year" for Sunlake.

Sports Scholars


Zack Henderson, Florida Tech

Jacob Jackson, College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Ill., junior college)

Adrian Krupka, Northern State University, South Dakota.


Ashley Orta, Santa Fe Community College

Shelley Stohler, Hillsborough Community College

Caitlyn Rogers, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tyler Riendeau, Lander University

Amanda Solar, University of Tampa


David Danahy, Southeastern University

Sunlake High's pioneer class brought spirit into building 05/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  2. Manuel Noriega, Panamanian strongman toppled in U.S. invasion, dies at 83


    Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian strongman and onetime American ally who was toppled from power in a 1989 U.S. invasion and who spent more than two decades imprisoned on drug dealing and conspiracy convictions, died late Monday. He was most likely 83.

    Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega waves to newsmen after a state council meeting, at the presidential palace in Panama City, where they announced the new president of the republic in 1989. Panama's ex-dictator Noriega died Monday, May 29, 2017, in a hospital in Panama City. He was 83. [Associated Press]
  3. Austin Mahone talks Pitbull, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, his pop evolution and more


    Austin Mahone has vivid memories from his childhood visits to see his grandparents in Tampa Bay.

  4. Motorcyclist killed in Pinellas Park crash, prompting road closures


    A motorcyclist was killed early Tuesday morning when he left the roadway and possibly struck a parked vehicle in Pinellas Park.

  5. Meet the five finalists for St. Petersburg College president


    ST. PETERSBURG — In the last month, five finalists for the job of St. Petersburg College president have taken campus tours and answered questions from students, faculty and staff.

    The Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr., Midtown Center of St. Petersburg College, opened in 2015, is considered a major accomplishment by outgoing SPC president William Law. [SOPHIA NAHLI  ALLISON  |   TIMES]