PALMETTO -- In addition to educating students on the basics necessary to finish high school and providing opportunities outside the classroom for students, Braden River High School helps create lifelong friendships, according to graduates Emma Slotabec and Ella Biggins.
In a near perfectly timed speech, the two seniors ran through all the different ways Braden River High School helped them succeed. During their speech, they often used props and finished each other's sentences.
Drawing inspiration from the school mascot, the Pirates, the two ended their speech with a message of hope.
"May the wind in your sails always be strong," Slotabec and Biggins said together.
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Slotabec and Biggins were two of four student speakers at the Saturday graduation ceremony at the Bradenton Area Convention Center where 450 students walked the stage and collected a diploma.
As the school celebrates its 10th anniversary -- it opened in August 2005 -- students and faculty demonstrated Pirate pride throughout the ceremony.
"We are Pirates and each of us are the captains of our own ships," student speaker Brittany Cole said.
The final student speaker, David Espinal, encouraged students to embrace failure and be daring.
"Success has always been about daring," he said, pointing out he never would have realized his love for public speaking if he hadn't dared to audition to speak at graduation.
For the special anniversary graduation ceremony, the school added a faculty speaker, Principal Jennifer Gilray said. Celeste Smith, a BRHS English teacher, addressed the graduates.
"Class of 2015, you and I share at least two characteristics," she said. "We are all seniors and we are all coming to the end of our high school careers."
Before the high school book closes, there are some important things to remember, Smith said.
"No one gets anywhere alone," she said. "Take some chances, try some new things, push yourselves to new heights."
Prior to graduation, students collected items to put in a time capsule to be opened when the Class of 2015 returns for its 10-year reunion.
"Class of 2015, it's time for you to move on. Go chase the world," Smith said to a standing ovation.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.