St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 


'A class just full of superlatives'

By STEPHEN HEGARTY
Published May 22, 2005


LAND O'LAKES - Fresh off its designation as one of the top high schools in the nation, Land O'Lakes High School bade farewell Friday to its biggest graduating class ever.

"Our class is a class just full of superlatives," salutatorian Kara Tyler said. "The largest, the most determined, the most rebellious, the most unique, the noisiest and the most humorous."

It was all in evidence Friday night.

The families and friends of the 411 graduates filled the bleachers on both sides of the stadium. The ceremony featured a few beach balls, some well-deserved bragging on accomplishments and quotes from Hermann Hesse and Ferris Beuller.

Senior Class President Sadie Molinet had one of the best lines of the night when she tried to sum up her mixture of emotions. "As I stand here I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I don't know where to start," she said.

After receiving his diploma, graduate Devon Kearney executed an impressive back flip off the railing at the side of the stage. He promised he'd do it. He'd practiced it. Classmates had egged him on and he came through. He stuck the landing, graduation gown and all.

The school routinely boasts the highest test scores in the county and the most merit scholars. This year was no exception. The Class of 2005 had three national merit semifinalists nine commended students,, 56 AP scholars, and 40 students who graduated from the International Baccalaureate program.

Earlier this month, the school was listed in a Newsweek magazine story on the nation's top high schools based on the number of students taking Advanced Placement and IB tests. Land O'Lakes was ranked 312 in a list of the nation's top 1,000. It was the only Pasco County school on the list.

In keeping with Land O'Lakes High tradition, as the 411 graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas Friday, they each handed a small token to the principal. This year, principal Ray Bonti received a plastic sheriff's badge from each graduate, acknowledging his emphasis on safety.

During his speech, International Baccalaureate salutatorian Michael Jacob had helpful advice for his fellow graduates, reminding them that "Your families are very proud of you. This would be the most opportune time to ask for money."

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


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT