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Hudson High School revels in future


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001

Two Rebeccas sandwiched the processional line for the Hudson High School Class of 2001.

The one in front was Rebecca Abrams, the class salutatorian, with a 4.3 GPA, who was hoping her laryngitis would keep at bay long enough for her to croak out her speech. Her medal-adorned neck gave an accounting of her high school success: Hudson graduate, salutatorian, top 10 percent, honors and ROTC staff member.

"I feel like I'm going to fall over," she said.

The one in back was Rebecca Yost, also among the 17 Hudson graduates with a 4.0 or higher GPA. Clad in her red cap and gown, Yost shifted her feet -- those strappy white sandals were killing her.

"My ankles are cracking every 10 minutes," she said, wincing. In between these young women were the 250 seniors lined up to march into the Hudson High gymnasium one last time. For this group, which guidance counselor Rosaleen Hoeymans said saw itself as the first class of the new millennium, the hot evening air and bustle of the preceremony activity were bearable only because of what followed: pomp and circumstance, all for them.

Cheers, clapping, whistles and camera flashes greeted the class as it proceeded into the packed gym, each female student carrying a white rose. Liz Henn, director of the school's job placement program, stood at the entrance giving last-minute advice.

"Let's see some teeth," she said. "Smile, smile. Walk together, it looks nice."

Among the graduates were two National Merit Scholars and 78 students graduating with honors. There marched valedictorian Marcus Ressler, who finished with a 4.33 GPA, and student and athlete of the year Robbie Mahler. In all, the group collected $166,000 in scholarship money.

For their speech, class officers Samantha Cifelli and Abby Rader included their "Top 10 Reasons Why We're Ready to Leave Hudson."

"I'd rather get my six hours of sleep at home," they said. "It's getting difficult to beat our parents to the mailbox. The cafeteria food has been here longer than we have."

After a class video that showed pictures of the seniors from their childhood and the present, principal William Wright had more-serious words.

"A graduation, far from being an end, is a beginning of all tomorrows," he said. "May the future be yours."

As the graduates claimed their diplomas, each gave Wright a brand-new penny, minted in 2001, as a token of the class.

By the time the ceremony's end drew near, Abrams, grateful that her voice had held up for her moment in the spotlight, wondered how four years had come to an end so quickly.

"It's kind of cool, kind of unbelievable," said the future computer science major at the University of South Florida. "I managed to make it through the thank yous without crying."

The other Rebecca, who heads to Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall to study history, was equally happy to be officially graduated. Still, Yost admitted the finality of everything made her more upset than she originally let on.

"I'm going to miss it," she said. "It's so familiar."

Both could only guess at what lay ahead.

"The future," Yost said. "The great unknown."

"Fun," Abrams said. " 'Til college starts."

- Colleen Jenkins can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6232 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

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