The Class of '93, almost 1,900 strong, ended one part of their lives and began another as graduation ceremonies took place Friday night at Pasco County's seven public high schools.
That's one more ceremony than last year because this was the first graduating class at River Ridge High _ the first class to don purple caps and gowns, the first to march to Pomp and Circumstance, the first to graduate.
The River Ridge senior class has been a melting pot of sorts, made up of 220 students who came together as juniors from Gulf, Hudson and Ridgewood high schools. Some were eager for the transition into a new school. For others, moving to River Ridge and leaving friends was hard.
The first year, the students stayed in their groups, said senior counselor Susan Richmond, but this year they came together.
"They're a real special group," she said. "They know how to gel."
For student sponsor Tammy Rabon, graduation was especially sad.
"I've worked with these kids for two years," she said. "I got to see them work together. They're great kids and I know they'll do well," she said. "I'm excited for them to have this opportunity to be the first to graduate."
Senior class president Michelle Blackett said she is excited about the future. She plans to major in psychology at Saint Leo College.
"I'm proud to be part of a class that is setting a standard," she said. "I came here from Ridgewood. But here I made a lot of new friends. We're no longer split up into a Gulf crowd, or a Hudson crowd, or a Ridgewood crowd. We're a River Ridge crowd. We've finally found a home _ and now it's time to leave."
"There's a lot of pride in this class," said valedictorian Susan Dacy in her graduation address. "Class of 1993, if you coast, hesitate, or keep to yourself, you will never know what you could experience and accomplish: Seize the Day!"