Northeast High School graduates of 1991 will not soon forget valedictorian Huy Nguyen's speech Thursday. He thanked America "for giving me the freedom and opportunity for an excellent education. And Congressman Bill Young who made it possible for me and my mother to come to America and be reunited with my family after eight years of separation."
Nguyen is a native of Vietnam.
The 375 red and white clad Northeast Vikings marched into the Bayfront Center with male graduates removing their mortarboards as principal Charley Williams led the pledge of allegiance. Senior members of the Gondoliers vocal group sang The Star-Spangled Banner well enough to perform anywhere.
Student government president Lauren Stitt, who wore the blue satin mantle of the National Honor Society, told fellow students to have as a goal "being a successful person, success meaning happiness with yourselves and with others."
Some things never change, like the sparrows in the rafters, the little pods of applause around the audience, and the sometimes well-organized cheering groups composed of family and friends of graduates.
Also unchanging are the excited faces of the graduates. Miss Stitt, who is bound for Duke University this fall, said she was nervous before her talk. "But once I got up there it wasn't bad," she said.
Graduate Chris Ervin said "I'm kinda sad, but happy. I'm thinking about having a good time tonight and about going in the Marine Corps next month."
_ BETTY JEAN MILLER