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Revival, triumph shine through at Manatee High graduation

MANATEE — For Younes Mohmed, it is an aspiration to continue to learn.

For Michelle McGurn, it was the leadership skill learned through marching band.

And for Kader Manzar, it was the work ethic instilled in him.

These are just a few of the lessons learned during the past four years by the 460 Manatee High School graduates who walked across the stage Saturday night at Hawkins Stadium, the final act of their high school careers.

“Everyone has been touched deeply by this school, some in ways they can’t even fathom,” said Rebecca Moore, one of the commencement speakers and a 2010 graduate.

“These years, which have passed by in the blink of an eye, are where we found out who we are and what we want.”

Revival and triumph were major themes for many of the speakers at the graduation.

During its sophomore year, the class of 2010 collectively raised the school’s FCAT score from a D to an A, one of the highest, numerical jumps in Florida testing history, according to Gary Theiler, an assistant principal at Manatee High School.

Several speakers referenced this accomplishment as a testament to the class’ dedication to their school and community.

As for triumph, the football team’s state semifinal upset defeat of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in December was a popular topic.

“St. Thomas made one big mistake: They failed to take into account that a group of neighborhood kids who believed in themselves ... could ever beat them on a Friday night playing football,” Theiler said.

Diane Shipley-Parrish said her son, Taylor Shipley, attended Manatee specifically for its strong foot- ball program and that his plans to attend a junior college in Massachusetts were aided by the school’s coaches.

Many parents discussed enthusiasm over their children’s graduations.

“I’m so excited for the future,” said Lawrence Williams Jr., speaking of his daughter. Kayla Williams, who was in the top 10 percent of Manatee’s graduating class, plans to attend State College of Florida and Florida A&M University for pharmacy.

But for the parents, there was also the sadness that comes with moving on.

“It’s hard, I mean, that’s my baby,” Shipley-Parrish said of her youngest son, Taylor.

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