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CLEARWATER

A high school diploma is a little like a lottery ticket, School Board member Lucile Casey told Clearwater High School graduates Thursday night. "If you don't have a ticket, you don't have a chance to win," Casey told the group.

Casey spoke as a light but steady rain fell. It dampened everything but the spirits of the 80th class to graduate from Clearwater High School.

The cheers of the crowd and graduates drowned out the notes of Pomp and Circumstance as the class filed onto the field at Jack F. White Stadium. Shortly after the graduates sat down, the band fled for shelter.

Parents braved the rain beneath plastic and umbrellas. But mortar boards failed to keep the 376 graduates dry.

Casey tried to shelter the diploma covers beneath a towel, only to have exuberant graduates shake them up at the sky as they walked away.

"To get anywhere in this world you have to know some important people," principal Ed Evans told the group before awarding the diplomas. "You do. You know yourself."

Joe Witte, senior class president, urged people to enjoy the small pleasures in life and not get caught up in material pleasures.

Valedictorian Tricia Van Wagner asked the class to remember a classmate who didn't make it to graduation. Anthony Evans died during basketball practice in March of an enlarged heart.

_ TERESA BURNEY

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