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Twins recall changes in school, area

Published May 22, 2005

WESLEY CHAPEL - The 320 graduating Wildcats of Wesley Chapel High School got their end-of-the-year inspirational speeches in stereo.

Speaker No. 1: Valedictorian Stephen Sikes. Speaker No. 2: His twin brother, salutatorian A.J. Sikes. Perched atop the platform as they were atop the honor roll, the Sikes brothers reflected on the big changes of the past four years and the big dreams of the next four years.

Stephen recalled the melting pot his school had become with 400 more students joining the school's crowded hallways the past year. Speed walking to avoid the crush of humans became an art.

A.J. also touched on the changes to Wesley Chapel, a community in which he and his brother have lived for 14 years.

"When we moved to Wesley Chapel, 54 wasn't one big traffic jam and Bruce B. Downs was the road to nowhere," he said.

As the ceremony began under a cloudless dusky sky at 8 p.m. Friday, graduates in navy gowns filed along the sidelines of the school's football field and converged near the 50-yard line to take their seats.

Save for the occasional bouncing beach ball and toilet paper streamer, grads focused most of their attention on the stage occupied by teachers, administrators and visiting dignitary state Rep. Ken Littlefield.

In the final student speech of the evening, senior class president Micah Scanga urged his classmates to downplay looks and wealth in the search for companionship. What they needed was someone who would make their hearts smile, he said.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away," Micah said.

Then came the reading of rolls of graduates, as each of the 320 Wildcats filed to the stage. Family and friends in the bleachers hooted, hollered, clapped or blew air horns, each to his or her taste.

And as the grads turned their tassels in a final gesture of leaving, a ceremony that began with the processional Pomp and Circumstance ended with lyrics from the pop song Good Riddance:

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.

I hope you had the time of your life.

[Last modified May 22, 2005, 01:07:21]

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