With loud applause, retired principal Edward J. Ballas returned to present diplomas to 369 Jefferson High School graduates Wednesday evening in the Expo Hall of the Florida State Fairgrounds. Ballas retired two months ago after 34 years in the Hillsborough County school system and it was fitting that he should be the one to give out the diplomas, said Arthur Smith Jr., the new principal.
The class of 1991 heard class salutatorian Phillip Shane Bostick tell them that graduation was a stepping stone from the past to a future of dreams.
"We've experienced victory and defeat," said Bostick. "We've lost and gained friendships and our experiences have sown seeds that will develop into memories."
Bostick added some levity to the otherwise solemn occasion when he asked his classmates: "Do you have goals? Do you have dreams? Do you have any Grey Poupon?"
Beatrice B. Brown was one of the 3,000 or more observers in the audience who was watching the ceremony. Her granddaughter D'ebradenise Brown was among the graduates.
"I wouldn't miss this for anything," the 65-year-old said. "I have 10 grandchildren and seven of them so far have graduated. It's a blessing to have them all finish."
This Jefferson High School is only 18 years old. The old Jefferson High School closed in 1966.
_ MICHELLE JONES