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Seniors give emotional thanks

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 8, 2002

PINELLAS PARK -- The largest graduating class in the history of the First Baptist Christian School joined family and friends in emotion-filled commencement exercises Friday evening at the First Baptist Church.

"I am usually not an emotional person," said James Benjamin Carroll, fighting tears as he thanked his parents, friends and teachers for helping him attain a high school diploma.

Carroll was one of many of the 18 graduating seniors who rose to give personal thanks. Many of their comments drew laughter, but just as many drew tears.

"Thank you, dad, for not letting me cry when I was not bleeding," said Keri Elisabeth Hulsey.

Roger Lee Northcutt Jr. said to his mother, "If I grow up to be just half of what you are, my life will be fulfilled. I love you more than words can tell."

Annmarie Sherleen Marsh thanked her grandma for staying up all night to help her finish an English term paper.

"It was worth it because I got an A," she said.

Co-valedictorian Keri Lyn Nutt thanked the entire school staff "for putting up with us for 12 years" and warned the upcoming Class of 2003 not to take the senior year for granted.

"It goes by real quickly," she said.

Andrew David Watkins, also a co-valedictorian, thanked Nutt for giving him the incentive to try harder in school.

"I've been gifted with a great memory and never had to try very hard in school," he said. "But, because of Keri, I learned how to work hard."

The official commencement speaker, First Baptist Church senior pastor Dr. Gleason McKamey, urged the graduating seniors to decide what they want in life, and "to give the very best" in that effort.

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