To usher her classmates into the future, Brandon High School valedictorian Marlene Santiago turned to the wisdom of a childhood book Wednesday. As Santiago read through Dr. Seuss' Oh the Places You'll Go, her 519 classmates and their families listened intently during graduation ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds' Expo Hall. It was uncanny how much sense it all made.
She read of new friends, new experiences, disappointment and success, and, most of all, hope for the future.
"Oh, the mountains you'll move," she read.
But that wasn't all. Santiago used the book as instructions for a "survival kit" that contained five "essential" items: a compass, a coin, a tissue, glue and a toothbrush.
The compass should be used for direction and the coin could be tossed to make some decisions, Santiago said. The tissue would be needed along the way to dry the tears of disappointment.
And the glue?
"The glue goes hand-in-hand with the tissue," Santiago said. "Use it to piece yourself back together."
Last but not least was the toothbrush. "Use it so when opportunity comes back you can smile your biggest, brightest smile," Santiago said.
The audience also listened to salutatorian Javan Ferguson and principal Patrick Gregory. After lauding the students for their achievements, Gregory gave them some last bits of advice.
"Like the (bald) eagle," Gregory advised, "be proud, believe in yourself and good things will come your way."
_ ANNE PLOHR