PALMETTO -- The 2013 graduating class of Bayshore High School was told to embrace the future.
"There's a bigger, steeper and more difficult climb ahead," said Omar Martinez-Alvarado, one of two seniors who were the key commencement speakers at the graduation ceremonies held Saturday at the Bradenton Convention Center.
Martinez-Alvarado said it was OK if his fellow classmates were not sure what they planned to do after graduation, because there is "infinity and beyond" ahead of them, using the catch phrase from the animated film character Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story."
"It doesn't matter as long as you make the future better," he said.
Bayshore High Principal David Underhill, also charged the 281 graduates, dressed in gold or blue or white caps and gowns, to not be afraid of what lies ahead.
Underhill told them to imagine they were on a diving board getting ready to jump into a pool of water.
"Up until now you've been in the shallow end where you felt safe with your feet on the bottom and you could stand," he said, but "you must dive in."
At first the water feels refreshing, then one realizes it is time to sink or swim, the principal continued.
Pointing out that with the support of family, faculty and school staff that they have had since they were young, the seniors are prepared for life.
"You will not sink," Underhill concluded. "You will swim."
Senior Braden Causey also reminded her fellow classmates of the guidance and learning they received during the past four years of high school.
Causey recalled, "as freshmen the first year was a blur."
Her sophomore year could be summed up in one word -- chemistry -- and the junior year "came quicker than we expected, but not soon enough," she reminisced.
But the senior year was the most memorable, Causey said.
"We have memories that will last a lifetime," she said, also concluding that they should thank their parents and teachers.
The day was full of excitement for many of the graduates as they waited to march into the auditorium.
"It doesn't feel real," said Summer Tibbets, 17, who will be going on to State College of Florida in the fall to study music therapy.
"I'm so glad to have the support of my family," Tibbets said when asked about facing the future. "The future is going to hold for me whatever God intended, but I know in my heart whatever it is I will be successful."
Classmate Alexandria Priebe, 18, had the same confidence for her future as an elementary school teacher.
"Education is the heart and soul of all humanity," said Priebe, who will be attending St. Leo College with the help more than $80,000 in scholarships.
"If we can encourage children to learn they will be successful," said the 2013 winner of the Golden Herald Award in Music.