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Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that 'it can't hurt to ask'

Caitlin Fruit (left, foot pictured), Allison Hayduke and Samantha Keim sport their new white Crocs on Wednesday during speeches before the presentation of diplomas at Seminole High School's commencement ceremony at Tropicana Field. They were among several graduating seniors who wore white Crocs donated by the Crocs company. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Caitlin Fruit (left, foot pictured), Allison Hayduke and Samantha Keim sport their new white Crocs on Wednesday during speeches before the presentation of diplomas at Seminole High School's commencement ceremony at Tropicana Field. They were among several graduating seniors who wore white Crocs donated by the Crocs company. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published May 17, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pictured themselves wearing Crocs to their graduation. But the foam shoes were comfortable, offered better footing than heels, and now the Seminole High seniors had a story to tell.

It all started a little more than two months ago in teacher Tiffany Rasmussen's third-period dual enrollment class. The seniors began discussing what they would wear to graduation at Tropicana Field. Girls were required to wear a "white or light colored dress" and "white or light-colored shoes."

Some in the class voiced concerns about wearing heels, which can hurt or sink into the Trop's artificial grass surface, Agee said. As a soccer and flag football player, she always wore a pair of camouflage Crocs instead of her cleats to and from games.

That gave her an idea.

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"What if we all wore Crocs?" Agee said to her classmates.

Rasmussen suggested tweeting at the Crocs company. "What if they sent you something?" the teacher said.

Agee took to her phone and composed a tweet: "@Crocs sitting here trying to decide what to wear to graduation, how many Rts would it take to send all the senior girls at Seminole Senior High School white crocs to wear at graduation?!"

"2018 … obviously." Crocs replied two hours later.

"You got it!!" Agee tweeted back.

At first, she and her classmates never thought it would get this big. But then, the retweets started pouring in. Classmates, teachers, former students and parents all started sharing the tweet on various platforms, trying to get to that 2,018 number.

Agee said she was surprised after 100 retweets, but still never thought they would make it to more than 2,000.

"After 1,000, it just kept going nonstop until it hit 2,018," she said.

The company kept its part of the bargain, sending 124 pairs of Crocs Classic Clogs last week to Seminole High.

"This might be the first time more than 100 pairs of Crocs cross the same graduation stage," said Terence Reilly, Crocs chief marketing officer.

He said the company pays attention to what consumers are saying about it, and when they saw Agee's tweet they had to respond. He decided to ask for 2,018 retweets since it was "a meaningful yet attainable number."

Agee said her teachers were supportive, but only she and a large group of her friends ended up wearing the Crocs during Seminole's commencement ceremony Wednesday.

READ THE GRADEBOOK: The talk of Florida education

Still, the experience provided a valuable lesson in the final weeks of the school year, said Rasmussen, who likes to teach her students "soft skills," the ones you can't learn from a textbook.

"One of my things is it can't hurt to ask," she said.

"It's just neat seeing how these things work," Rasmussen said. "I don't think the students realized they have such a voice."

Agee said now her legacy at the school is "the Croc girl" — a name she's happy to have. It's cool to be remembered that way, she said.

"It's kind of mind-blowing. If you set your mind to do something, you can do it."

Contact Laurel Demkovich at ldemkovich@tampabay.com.

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