Class of 2016

Manatee High bids farewell to 100th graduating class

MANATEE -- Donning red, white and blue caps and gowns, graduates filed onto Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium on Saturday night, met by the sound of cheers and air horns while loose balloons floated above their heads.

Changing times were discussed by many as the graduates of 2012 became the 100th graduating class of Manatee High School.

"We were born and raised on '90s television shows," said Ashley Ogedegbe, who graduated in the top 4 percent of the class and will attend Washington University in St. Louis this fall. "Every problem was settled by rock, paper, scissors."

Ogedegbe pointed out special experiences of this class - seeing the demolition of the old Davis building and the completion of the new one; seeing the Canes wins the football state championship last season.

Robert Firkins, 1957 alumnus and recipient of the 2012 Alumni of the Year award, voiced pride in the graduates and members of the state championship team.

"While a lot has changed since I graduated from Manatee High, much is still the same. Our football team was outstanding then, now it's No. 1 in the country," Firkins said to thunderous applause.

Ryder Bilter reminded his classmates to stay "old school" and not replace personal relationships with technology.

"Do me a favor, you can grow up just don't ever get old," he concluded.

Benjamin Moskowitz left his friends with meaningful song lyrics and inspirational quotations.

Ogedegbe summed up the changing times best: "We're going to walk across the stage, shake hands and switch our tassels but we all know it's not official until you upload your graduation pictures on Facebook," she joked.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.

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