Class of 2016

MUSTANG MAGIC: Lakewood Ranch says goodbye to its seniors

PALMETTO — Science teacher and former football coach Faust DeLazzer nearly stole the show at the Lakewood Ranch High School Class of 2009 graduation Thursday.

DeLazzer’s graduation speech at the Manatee Civic and Convention Center dispensed with the usual platitudes and got right to the heart of the matter — how the 425 Mustang graduates can survive life.

Tearing off his gown and revealing a scientist’s white lab coat underneath, DeLazzer’s advice included: wear sunscreen, get plenty of calcium and be kind to your knees, don’t be reckless with people’s hearts and don’t put up with those who are reckless with yours, floss, keep your love letters and dance.

He also advised the graduates to: Read the directions that come with what you buy, get to know your parents and respect them, be nice to siblings, smile, live in a big city like New York for awhile, but not long enough to make you hard, live in northern California once, but not long enough to make you soft, don’t expect anyone to support you, don’t mess too much with your hair and let scars tell your life story rather than tattoos.

Tearing off his white lab coat, DeLazzer was down to a trousers, shirt, tie and a coach’s whistle. As a coach, he told the graduates to: be on time, do what you are supposed to do, don’t do anything to embarrass your mother and chose a life’s work that fills you with passion, which is the only way to live powerfully.

At the end of his pep talk as a coach, he said, “The opponent is tough, but success comes in i-cans. Now stand up and say, ‘I can!’”

The entire class stood and repeated the phrase, leading DeLazzer to shout out: “You bet your butts you can. Now go get ‘em!”

Principal Mike Wilder, who had the unenviable task of stepping to the podium next, could only say, “Wow.”

Graduates Juntao Zhu and Manoucheka “Manny” Eliassaint have already heeded DeLazzer’s advice about passion.

Zhu, who graduated with a 4.56 grade point average, fourth best in the class, was named to the National Honor Society. His passion is science. He plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Florida.

Zhu credits his biology teacher, Paul Bourbeau, with helping him achieve his passion.

Eliassaint, who is of Haitian ancestry, was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, one of four Mustang graduates in 2009 to achieve that honor.

She persevered despite her family’s economic challenges, which forced the family to split to different homes after they lost their home.

She’s received a two-year scholarship to Manatee Community College to study nursing and has already studied to be an emergency medicial technician at Manatee Technical Institute.