PALMETTO — Wednesday night was full of promises for Palmetto High’s Class of 2009.
But before each graduate left to pursue their dreams in life, their fellow classmates reminded them about remembering their roots and told them that it’s OK to make mistakes.
Class president Shanequa Bernard decided to impart her encouragement to her graduating class, at the Manatee County Civic Center, through a poem.
She told of her own trials, of the financial difficulty her family faced, of the nights she spent in motel rooms and days being shuttled between Venice and Palmetto.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
She urged them to look ahead, and to prove the naysayers wrong and to “laugh at those who doubt you.”
“They said you couldn’t be president because you are black. They said your people shouldn’t be over the border so go back. They said you won’t amount to anything because you are white trash,” she said. “And no matter how much good you do it seems you are always put down because of your past.”
But look at how far you have come, she told her classmates.
“Yes, we are going through a major transition. A time where we will make major decisions,” she said. “At times it seems your world stops but the Earth keeps spinning. But with our Tiger pride, we will just keep on winning.”
Senior speaker Brianna Pierre reminded them of the memories the class went through together: the football games, homecoming week.
Sofia Salvidar told them to treat mistakes as experiences that help build character.
Her classmate Molly Roland told her schoolmates that she tried hard to think of something profound to share on graduation ceremony, but her mind kept wandering back to the first day of high school.
That memory brought understanding nods and laughter. “I was in tears, I was lost, I misplaced my schedule,” she remembered. “It just made me see how far I have come.”
Doratha “Armen” Byrd and Andrew “Andy” Mullins recognized the heroes in their high school years — their teachers and family members.
“It is my sincere desire and hope that we grow into the amazing individuals and inspire others as they have inspired us,” Byrd said.