BRADENTON — It was a sea of red, blue and white caps and gowns Saturday night as students prepared to walk across the stage and move on to the next chapter of their lives.
Students reflected back on their accomplishments and memories of attending high school at Manatee High School’s graduation at Hawkins Stadium.
“This is the day many of us have been waiting for,” said one of three student speakers, Dyrren Barber.
Barber reminded students of their hard work in academics and qualities such as focus and time management learned in high school that will help them continue to be successful.
Barber said students should remember four things.
“One: Where we are now? Two: Where do we want to go? Three: What we are trying to accomplish? and Four: Why?” he said. “These tools used properly make ordinary people extraordinary.”
Manatee High had improvements in their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. Last year, the school made a jump from a D in 2007 to an A. Students and faculty noted the accomplishment during commencement.
Each graduate had a different story and a new path to embark on.
Out of about 400 graduating students, several plan to join the armed forces. Several are National Merit Scholars with plans to attend prestigious colleges. And while still in high school, many already began service to the community through volunteer work, said Principal Bob Gagnon during his speech.
Gagnon credited Key Club members for making sure disadvantaged elementary school students were able to have meals on the weekends when school isn’t in session by starting a program of distributing food baskets.
“As leaders, these students have reached out and given to the community,” he said. “The future is indeed a bright one.”