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Graduates asked to protect


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- Forty-eight proud, uniformed seniors gathered with family, friends, fellow students and faculty at the Admiral Farragut Academy's Garden Theater on Saturday to mark their high school graduation.

"I leave here knowing that I have accomplished things that seven years ago I never dreamed of. All of these years of work have paid off. I am truly happy," said valedictorian Stefanie Joy Schuyler.

Salutatorian Nicola Michelle Alvord, whose family emigrated from Zimbabwe, reminded her fellow graduates of the freedoms and opportunities they enjoy in the United States. "Be brave, be strong, be true and fill the whole world with love," she said.

Members of the 2001 graduating class garnered $1.9-million in scholarships, including three Merchant Marine Academy, six Naval ROTC and two Army ROTC scholarships. One senior, Mark Angel Hebert, was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Admiral Farragut, which opened in St. Petersburg in 1945, is known nationally and internationally for its military-style upper school program, which has been named a Naval Honor School by Congress. It is one of the few schools that can make direct appointments to the nation's military academies.

Admiral Farragut graduate and trustee George Michel (Class of 1949) told the graduates to welcome and conquer their fears as they strive for success in life. "It's fear that makes us fight for survival," he said. "Know who you are, what you like and don't like, know your weaknesses and your strengths. The major distinction between leaders and followers is that leaders know who they are and where they are going."

"Your generation is different," Rear Adm. Thomas Steffens told the graduates in his commencement address. "You see in concepts. You think digitally. You live in a global village where the clash of civilizations grows stronger every day. You will be called upon to protect our planet. Remember that all that is necessary for evil to triumph, is that the good do nothing. It's your turn. Godspeed 2001, Godspeed."

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