Education

Manatee High School Class of 2019 honors late classmate at graduation ceremony

Short video honors late Manatee High student Victoria Mobley

The 2019 Manatee High School graduation ceremony honored the life of Victoria Mobley, an 18-year-old senior who died in a car accident in February. The school played a tribute video on the jumbotron screen at Joe Kinnan Field to celebrate her life.
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The 2019 Manatee High School graduation ceremony honored the life of Victoria Mobley, an 18-year-old senior who died in a car accident in February. The school played a tribute video on the jumbotron screen at Joe Kinnan Field to celebrate her life.

Hundreds of Hurricanes received their diplomas at Manatee High School’s graduation Saturday night.

But one student couldn’t join them at Joe Kinnan Field.

Victoria Mobley was killed in a car accident in February, but school officials recognized her academic accomplishment with a posthumous degree as part of the ceremony.

The friends and families of her classmates gave her a standing ovation as Victoria’s loved ones approached the stage to receive her diploma.

Overcome with emotion, they held their hands high as they walked back to their seats.

From the student section, one senior yelled “We love you, Victoria,” prompting even louder cheers from the crowd.

Senior class President Hannah Cavis began her speech with a “We Are Manatee!” cry from her classmates before welcoming them to the much-anticipated event.

“Today we close a chapter on our high school days and open the chapter to the future,” she said.

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Around 400 Manatee High School Hurricanes received their diplomas at the 2019 commencement ceremony on Saturday night. Ryan Callihan rcallihan@bradenton.com

Other seniors also addressed the commencement audience. Yearldy Albarron spoke of her challenges as an immigrant student and thanked her parents for their sacrifice and their unending motivation.

“My obstacles made me stronger,” Albarron said.

Collin Hicks urged his classmates to reflect on all they’ve learned together over the past 12 years to make sure their next steps are worth the experience.

“Make what comes next worth the struggle and hard work,” Hicks said.

He also pointed out that many of the students sitting before him would meet new challenges, such as joining the workforce, earning college degrees or having to cook meals for themselves for the first time.

If those graduating seniors think back to their past experiences, Emma Johnston said, they’ll realize that they’ve had to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances many times before.

“There are lessons to be learned and failure to be had. That’s natural,” Johnston said. “Think back to our awkward introductions in kindergarten, sixth grade and our freshman year.”

To reach great heights, Manatee High School’s seniors will need to take risks, according to principal David Underhill.

“You’ll have to be courageous to reach your full potential,” Underhill said. “Each leap of faith will make you stronger and smarter.”

About 200 students walked the stage to receive degrees at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee's Spring 2019 Commencement. It was USF system president Judy Genshaft's last commencement before she retires this summer.

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