SEBASTIAN – More than 400 students from Sebastian River High School crossed the stage at Shark Stadium Friday evening, joining the ranks as the 16th class to graduate from the school.
Amongst cheers, whistles, applause, clappers and air horns, the Class of 2011 celebrated the end of 12 years of schooling.
“Today is the first day of the rest of our lives, said Senior Class President Wesley Davis Jr., adding, “As Americans, we can go forward with our American Dream.”
“My senior class, take a good look around,” Davis said. “You might not know this now, but you will miss this.”
Of the 415 students to graduate this year, five have earned their Associates Degree from Indian River State College, 41 were members of the National Honor Society, 28 earned International Baccalaureate diplomas, 46 graduated with honors, and 224 received their vocational certification. Seventy-nine students received their Florida Ready to Work Certification while 69 received industry certifications, and two others were part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“You set a higher standard of excellence,” Principal Daniel Gilbertson said. “It has been an honor to serve you as your principal.”
Salutatorian Cathryn Bootes and Valedictorian Matthew Colbert both urged their fellow classmates to go out into the world and find their way.
Bootes, who plans to attend University of Miami and enter the Pre-Med program, told the graduating class to never give up, no matter the adversity.
She shared with the crowd of a few thousand, a year ago she lost her brother.
“Life hit me like a ton of bricks,” Bootes said, yet somehow she found the strength and fortitude to push on, continue her studies and work harder than before.
“You always have the ability to fight,” she said, encouraging the graduates to never take the easy route. “Muster up the strength. Go out there and find your meaning in life.”
Colbert, a National Merit Finalist, plans to attend University of Florida in the fall, enrolling in the Industrial and Systems Engineering program. In five years, he plans to have his Masters Degree and one day hopes to create an affordable, electric car.
Colbert urged his classmates to remember the times they’ve had over the school years, the friendships built, the jokes shared, the memories made.
He said they should recognize their parents, for their support and sacrifice and their teachers for the solid foundation they laid so the students could continue to build upon.
Colbert told the students that it is their duty to be informed participants in the world, to be educated on the issues that the government faces – to vote.
“We must continue to make a difference,” he said.
“Take time to appreciate life,” Principal Gilbertson told the students, prior to handing out the diplomas. “Oh. And one more thing – You can’t hide that Shark Pride!”