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    Northeast High School

    [Times photo: James Borchuck]
    Chavon Tucker celebrates after receiving her diploma Thursday during commencement at the Times Arena at Bayfront Center. Northeast High had 336 students walk in the ceremony.

    By KELLY RYAN GILMER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 7, 2002

    NUMBER OF STUDENTS WALKING IN CEREMONY: 336

    VALEDICTORIAN: Jacqueline M. Pace

    SALUTATORIAN: Jamie A. Toon

    SPEAKERS: Pace; principal Michael Miller; student government vice president Lauren Connolly introduced the guest speaker, former assistant principal Harry Brown. Senior class president Alyssa Clausen presented the class gift.

    BEST QUOTE: "Let's get through graduation and get to the parties," Pace said after urging her classmates to be true to themselves and see each day as a blessing.

    ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Teacher Larry Rudisill is retiring after 36 years in education, 33 of those at Northeast High.

    LENGTH OF CEREMONY: One hour, 37 minutes at Bayfront Center Arena.

    CLASS GIFT: Boxes for every club and class to display items; donation to the principal's discretionary fund.

    CLASS SONG: Megan Weller sang There is Still a Dream by Rachael Lampa and Aaron Neville.

    BEHIND THE SCENES: At 9:45 a.m., students were still trying to find their place in line, fill out information cards and get their school medallions. "They're looking for us. We're late. Let's go," Miller pleaded 15 minutes later when the seniors still weren't ready. Then half the faculty went through the wrong door into the arena and had to turn around. The ceremony started seven minutes late.

    SCENES AND SIGHTS: Before Gibbs High School graduates even left the arena, workers removed blue and gold ribbons from the white flower arrangements. They were replaced by ribbons in Northeast red and white.

    SEPT. 11: Pace, Miller and Brown all mentioned it. Northeast has one of the most diverse student populations in the county, and Brown praised students for treating each other with respect. "I am still profoundly encouraged by what I witnessed at Northeast High School," said Brown, now in charge of Palm Harbor University High School's International Baccalaureate program. "No local or world crisis could divide the family that we had become."

    CELL PHONES: Miller asked the audience to silence all pagers and cells. Amazingly, none interrupted the event.

    PATRIOTISM: Miller led the graduates, faculty and audience in a moment of silence: "Let us at this time remember we are at war."

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