BRADENTON -- It’s “a real bittersweet time of the year,” Principal Bill Jones told the 107 graduating seniors at Manatee School for Arts commencement Wednesday night at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium.
The faculty and staff are happy to see the seventh senior class at Manatee School for the Arts win their diplomas, but sad to see the familiar faces go.
“Thank you for being with us and sharing your lives,” Jones said.
“We always marvel at where students end up,” he said of possible future choices for the grads.
“We will be looking for you to see how it goes. I would just like to say congratulations. We are very proud of everyone of you,” Jones said.
Student speaker Autumn Ferrick touched on the still unsolved homicide of teacher Kenneth Ellis in his North Port home this school year and expressed her best wishes for anyone who may have suffered a death in the family.
But she did not dwell on the tragedy and offered words of encouragement to her classmates to stand for something; to go into the workplace to do something that makes them not just wealthy, but happy; and to say please and thank you, little words that still matter.
And finally, she urged her classmates to hang onto the friendships they made at Manatee School for the Arts.
Keynote speaker Julie Aranibar, a member of the Manatee County School Board, told seniors that leadership is not just about telling people what to do.
“Just to be clear,” Aranibar said, as a school board member she works for the students.
“I hope you will become leaders with a heart of service,” Aranibar said, and inspire others who will come after you.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.