by SARAH NACHIN
Hernando Sun Community Reporter
On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Hernando County’s five high schools held graduation ceremonies for their Seniors. Proud parents, family, and friends showed up in their vehicles in the parking lots of their respective high schools. Principals, staff, school board members, and school superintendent, John Stratton, were there to offer their congratulations and give “high-fives” to the students.
Seniors at Springstead High School were decked out in their cap and gowns as ceremonies kicked off at 3:00 pm. Many were undecided about their plans for the next chapter of their life, while others had definite goals in mind. The feeling of the students ranged from excitement and relief to anticipation of their futures and sad acceptance of the circumstances surrounding their special day.
Mercedes Corson commented, “I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this day since freshman year.”
Andrew Alzola decided to join the Air Force after having been in ROTC. He wants to make the military a career.
“I want to go into aircraft maintenance, do four years of college and then re-enlist as an officer.”
Andrew Amador, who has an uncle that was in the Air Force, also wants to join that branch of the military, but he may become a firefighter. Right now he’s undecided.
“I see this [ceremony] as the end of a chapter,” Pierre Pearson remarked.
Pierre wants to find a job in retail sales but admits it might be difficult right now.
Avery Burgess stated, “I can’t believe it’s over. I miss it [high school] already.”
Avery plans to go to college for graphic design and photo editing eventually but wants to go to work first.
Tia Davidson commented, “I feel excited right now.”
She plans to go to PHSC (Pasco Hernando State College) and study science.
“I’m excited,” Nykia Fenty stated. “I will be starting at PHSC and get an RN license. Then I might be going to the University of Florida.
The graduation ceremony was organized and choreographed like a dance, complete with music. From loudspeakers could be heard the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” as the students walked to the stage to receive their diplomas and pose for pictures. As the ceremony ended, the cars exited the parking lot to the music of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Graduation ceremonies at Nature Coast Technical High School began at 4 pm. The stage and several pillars were decorated with silver, white and blue balloons – the school’s colors. In addition to the traditional cap and gowns, students wore around their necks a Nature Coast Technical High School medallion on a white ribbon. Vehicles lined up in the back parking lot and students walked up to the stage to receive their diplomas and a plaque with their picture and their name engraving on it, as a memento of their senior year.
Nick Freeman stated, “I’m excited and glad to graduate and get my diploma. It’s the next chapter in my life. I want to go to trade school and just live my life and find a really good job. I want to work on computers and work hard.”
Betty Panoutsakos, who is planning on going to technical school and study cosmetology, stated, “I’m kind of sad that we didn’t have a real graduation and I just want to move on.”
Hailey Coutu, remarked, “I’m nervous and excited.”
Hailey was accepted to St. Leo College and wants to study Psychology.
Chase Davis was philosophical in commenting, “I feel amazing. It’s not the normal graduation, but it’s better than nothing. Hopefully, I’ll be going to college and move on to bigger things and move on with life.”
Brittany Ballou, echoed the feelings of many of her peers when she said, “Thank God I’m getting my diploma.”
Like Chase Davis, Zymara Guzman was also philosophical about the current situation.
“I’m really going with the flow, so I’m not really bothered. I think it’s fun that they [school administrators] are doing this. It’s a good chance to get our graduation.”
Zymara plans to take her future one step at a time.
“I’m going to go to PHSC and get my AA and figure things out from there.”
Probably a good thing considering the events of the past four months.
Besides learning History, Algebra, Physics, and other subjects, the students in the Class of 2020 have learned other important lessons. They have learned that nothing in life is certain, that everything can change in the blink of an eye and that we all have to adapt to circumstances that are beyond our control.