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Published Oct. 13, 2005

Not long ago they were the first group of freshmen to enter East Lake High School in north Pinellas County. On Thursday morning, the school's 329-member founding class graduated at Ruth Eckerd Hall. "The class of 1991 is the first class to complete all four years at East Lake," said principal Bruce Baptist. "They are the class noted for their major contribution to tradition, pride and spirit at East Lake High School."

Spirited they were. At one point during the ceremony, the students bounced around a beach ball until a school official caught it and ended the volley. The issuing of the final student's diploma prompted high-fives and a thunderous round of stomping feet.

In a commencement address, class president Danielle Francoeur recalled that freshman year meant "an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces." But in the end, she said, the senior class "laid the foundation and set the traditions for future classes to follow."

Four one-thousandths of a point marked the difference between the grade point averages of the valedictorian and salutatorian.

Salutatorian Christopher Schaeffer offered his words of wisdom on the subject of responsibility. "Responsibility is not giving up, not taking the easy road, not becoming a couch potato," he said.

Valedictorian Adam Freiman spoke of the impact of the war in the Persian Gulf. "We have seen the world in a different light, one of reality, one that tainted the idealism many of us held," he said. "We head into tomorrow with a better perspective."