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TARPON SPRINGS

With a toss of their caps and resounding cheers at the close of graduation, the class of 1991 bid farewell Thursday night to Tarpon Springs High. Clouds and a drizzle threatened to spoil commencement for the graduates and nearly 2,000 friends, classmates and relatives who attended the ceremony at Sponger Field, next to the high school. But the rain held off as each of the school's 274 graduates was called to receive a diploma.

About two-thirds of the class will go on to college, said principal John Nicely.

"I wish them all the best of luck," said Nicely, who became the school's acting principal in February. "I want them to know how extremely important it is for them to be students for the rest of their lives."

The classmates hugged, cried and cheered for each other and kept the spirit lighthearted.

Pegalia Alesafis, senior class president, spoke briefly and highlighted some comic moments, familiar to her classmates, that provoked some high fives and laughter.

There was that certain teacher with the strange new perm, or another whose worn-out saying was, "Go read a book or something, kid."

And there was a sad side to their celebration.

"We're ecstatic to be finally done with high school," said Emily Gellady, class valedictorian. "We are sad to say goodbye to our friends."

_ MIKE JACKSON

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