MANATEE — Before parting ways with her fellow graduates on Saturday, Bayshore High senior Paige Labarr reminded them of their time in high school.
There was the freshman year, where they searched for familiar faces — and watched out for upperclassmen who were rumored to push the younger students down stairs or into trash cans, she told an appreciative audience at the school’s commencement ceremony at the Manatee Civic Center.
“I don’t believe any of that ever happened, but it is an intimidation tactic that we as seniors ourselves have perpetuated on this year’s freshmen,” she said.
Then there was the sophomore year, when to their “parents’ dismay and to the delight of the local collision repair centers,” they got their drivers licenses.
Mostly, the students were safe and responsible, but there were some who needed reminders. Like the driver of the green Mazda who “locked (his) keys inside (his) car and it’s still running.”
There was prom in the junior year, and the long summer before students returned to their senior year, Labarr said.
“We were finally the big dogs on campus,” she said.
Besides the privileges of parking spaces and three extra minutes for lunch, there were the avalanches of fees, she recounted. There were fees for college applications, senior pictures, cap and gowns, transcripts and the “you-forgot-your-ID-and-don’t-want-detention fees.”
But they made it, they “survived eight sets of finals, four hurricanes in a single school year, three schedule changes, modified Wednesdays, budget cuts in the classroom and cold cuts in the cafeteria,” she said.
“What we are doing now is changing the future,” said fellow graduate speaker Nathan Whitehead. “High school has been great, but it doesn’t have to be the best voyage of your life.”
Whitehead thanked the school’s staff and faculty, his friends and parents.
For good measure, he wrapped up his speech by quoting two famous lines from popular science fiction shows.
“Do or do not, there is no try,” he told them. “And live long and prosper.”