Victoria DeSimone made it to the cafeteria in good time, landing the honor of being the first to pick up a copy of Mitchell High's Stampede yearbook as the rest of the class of 2010 trickled in. • "So far, it looks pretty good," Victoria said as she eagerly thumbed through the slick pages along with her best friend Brianna Hovsepian, 17. • They are like many who will graduate high school in the next few weeks. They have been hanging out together since middle school but soon will go separate ways. Victoria, 18, is headed to Florida State University for summer session. Brianna, who this year took the title of Miss Mitchell, is off to the University of Florida.
"We're best friends, but it looks like we're going to be rivals now," Brianna said, letting go a laugh.
The future and what it will bring weighed on the minds of many as they gathered for the annual yearbook signing party on May 14.
"It's exciting, it's hectic, it's very emotional," said Milliany Vasquez, 18.
"These last days have been so numbing, " said Katie Nutt , 17. "It's like a pain killer. You're not even thinking. You're just doing. You're excited. You're scared."
"I'm a little upset. I'm going to miss all my friends," said Timothy McCormick, 18, who plans on attending St. Petersburg College and pitching for the baseball team. "High school was great. Grad Bash, prom — it was all awesome. Everyone's going to split up after high school. You know how it goes."
The Stampede is a 3-inch thick snapshot of one school year, featuring faces upon faces and chronicling a slew of collective memories — Homecoming Week and Grad Bash, Friday night lights in the stadium and swim meets at the "Y," Special Olympics, Powder Puff and even a page highlighting Kayla Mudano's summer trip with friends to Vegas.
"There's so much of high school in here. It feels like it was forever ago, but it wasn't," said Sabrina Christofilis,18, who worked as a staff sports writer for the Stampede, covering volleyball, basketball and the Special Olympics.
At the top of Mike Spillane's "to get" signature list was the very affable Don Donahue, the school custodian who was named a finalist for the district's School Related Person of the year.
"No doubt about it, his is the signature that has to be had this year," said Mike, 18, who served as vice president of the senior class and the school's thespian troupe. "He's got these great one-liners. He's a very lively person and the coolest guy on campus."
At another table Rachel Anderson, 18, mulled over a blank page. "I don't know what to sign," she said while Carissa Mejia, 17, sitting across from her, started out by drawing a couple of hearts.
Alicia Hilton, 18, wasn't having as much trouble. "I'm not going to write it all long and sappy to my close friends," she said, noting that among her best memories was celebrating everyone's 18th birthday by taking multiple party bus trips to Ybor City. "But I know I'm not going to see them after high school, then maybe I'll write a long, long paragraph."
Michele Miller can be reached at email@example.com or at (727) 869-6251.