INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – “What a day,” Indian River Charter High’s Gene Waddell told the nearly packed auditorium of the Vero Beach Performing Arts Center, adding he was sure it was a day some thought would never arrive – a day when almost 130 students would graduate.
“They have worked very, very hard,” the school’s Board of Directors chair said.
Led in by the Indian River Charter High’s Jazz Band’s rendition of Pomp and Circumstance, the students filed in, accompanied by thunderous applause, cheers and whistles as several hundred parents, siblings, family and friends stood to recognize their grads.
“They are our pride,” School Director Cynthia Trevino-Aversa said, the results of the community’s, families’ and faculty’s support. “This is a unique group of young people.”
One student, while attending the high school, has earned 85 college credits and received her Associates degree from Indian River State College. Two other students, both women, plan to serve their country in the Army and the Navy.
Another student plans to be a funeral director and will work at a local funeral home over the summer. Another is leaving the state to immediately join the workforce out west.
Other students plan to go on to state colleges and universities, majoring in a variety of fields, including sports medicine, psychology, English, music, theatre, business administration, journalism, and biology to name a few.
“Although you will be missed,” Trevino-Aversa told the students, “your day has arrived.”
“Be the next generation of pioneers,” she later added.
Salutatorian Justin Metz presented a photo slideshow in lieu of a speech, he said, in order to spare the audience from hearing two speeches.
Rachel Rendon, the school’s Valedictorian, arrived at the podium amidst cheers and whistles.
“All of us did our time,” she said, noting they had made it through middle school – a time of braces and pimples and changing voices.
Throughout the four years at Indian River Charter High, Rendon said each student learned something of his or herself they didn’t know before.
“Your dance starts now,” she said.
Forty-seven percent of this year’s crop of graduates qualified for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship and the Class of 2011 as a whole earned 1,200 credits from Indian River State College.
While many students plan to continue their studies at Indian River State College, others will attend Cornell College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University, University of Central Florida, Florida State University, and University of Florida, among others.
Incoming Schools Superintendent Dr. Fran Adams declared the 128 seniors graduates, prompting more applause, cheers and whistles.
“Aren’t you always impressed by the gifts and talents of the young people in our community?” she rhetorically asked of the audience.
The ceremony drew to a close with the traditional tossing of the caps and singing of the School Song – A New Hope – performed by the 10 graduates of the school’s choir and the Jazz Band.