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    East Lake High School

    [Times photo: Cherie Diez]
    Graduating senior Luis Roa calls his father while getting dressed at the Mahaffey Theater before Thursday's East Lake High School commencement ceremony at the Times Arena at Bayfront Center. Some 80 percent of East Lake High's graduating class qualified as Florida Merit Scholars and will receive Florida Bright Futures scholarships, school officials said.

    By CHAUNDRA PERKINS
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 7, 2002

    NUMBER OF STUDENTS WALKING IN CEREMONY: 404.

    VALEDICTORIAN: J. Stanton Hill.

    SALUTATORIANS: Daniel Crimi and Elizabeth Herman.

    SPEAKERS: Hill; Crimi; Herman; Clayton Snare, principal; Mallory Szymanski, student body president; Amy Fretto, senior class president; David Everling, teacher.

    BEST QUOTE: "We cannot dwell in the past. That is the only thing that can slow us down. Making a mistake is a part of life; learning from them is a part of success. Each one of us can change the world. To become a famous scientist you must first become learned; to become an army general you must first overcome basic training; to head a Fortune 500 company you must first learn the file cabinets. Never underestimate your potential," said Hill in his valedictory address.

    ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Some 80 percent of the class qualified as Florida Merit Scholars and will receive Florida Bright Futures scholarships. The class will receive $3-million in scholarships and had four National Merit Scholars.

    LENGTH OF CEREMONY: One hour, 25 minutes

    BEHIND THE SCENES: A Bayfront Center security guard confiscated numerous air horns from members of the audience.

    SCENES AND SIGHTS: At the end of the ceremony, graduates tossed their caps all over the arena, striking at least one person (a member of the wind ensemble).

    SEPT. 11: Fretto, senior class president, suggested graduates develop the kind of character exemplified by New York firefighters. "Find the unselfish part of your heart," she said.

    TOTAL LENGTH OF SPEECHES: 23 minutes.

    PATRIOTISM: After the national anthem at the start of the ceremony, the audience clapped and cheered for at least 30 seconds.

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