PALMETTO -- Rows of yellow, blue and white robes worn by Bayshore High School graduating seniors filled a conference room in the Manatee County Convention and Civic Center Thursday night.
Two of the 305 students had made an impression in their school career, Wendell Williamson, 19, and Joshua Clark, 18, had not missed one day of school during their 12 years.
Missing school, they said, wasn’t an option.
“It was something to look forward to,” Clark, an aspiring auto mechanic, said. “It felt good to do it.”
Williamson, who will attend Graceland University in Lamont, Iowa, said, “I just went to school every day. What else can I do -- sit at home?”
Before the scores of students walked into the main hall of the center, senior class sponsor Angelia Gilley offered heart-felt words.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a class than I am of you,” she said.
Along with Williamson and Clark were several other student notables. Sara Alvarado, 17, who will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, donned two colorful cords to drape her graduation gown. Each showed her achievements at the school -- being in the top 10 percent of her class and being in the Technology Student Association.
David Nolan, 17, wore five different cords to show his accomplishments including one to indicate a 3.0 grade point average. Nolan graduated as a Microsoft specialist. He plans to go into sports medicine. Then, there were others like Samuel Tipton. He was one of four to receive a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from the State College of Florida.
“It gave me a head start towards college before I got out of high school,” Tipton said with a smile.
He and the others who achieved associates’ degrees were asked to stand during the ceremony.
“Parents, I know you like this because it saves you money,” Bayshore High School Principal David Underhill said, referring to the students who were dual enrolled.
Not many seats were available for guests in the civic center once the ceremony started. Loved ones held up signs and yelled out their graduates’ names.
Students Kayla King and Shanvi Patel offered commencement speeches filled with reflections, hope and advice. King advised her classmates to “take the path less traveled.” Then she offered advice to underclassmen.
“This year was made up of so much excitement, stress and money. Advice to underclassmen: start saving,” she said.
“Let’s not forget where we came from -- we’ll always be Bayshore Bruins,” Patel said, “We must value work and hold ourselves accountable to high standards. I firmly believe we are ready to shape and win the future. We are Bayshore.”