Class of 2016

Manatee School for the Arts graduates make their curtain call

PALMETTO -- Her fellow Manatee School for the Arts seniors screamed with glee when Gabrielle Jarmoszko started her graduation speech Tuesday by stating: "2016 Yearbooks will be on sale for $45 in Mrs. LeBuffe's room."

The seniors laughed hard because the 17-year-old Jarmoszko, on the Yearbook staff four years, is that one girl who seems to be in every senior class who sells the yearbooks, reminds everyone of what they need to do, interns for nearly every administrator and generally, is the glue holding the class together.

"Gabby is in charge of the world," said Kelly Hillman, Manatee School For the Arts director of marketing and events.

Jarmoszko, a Journalism Next reporter for the Bradenton Herald, was one of five student speakers at the 2015 commencement for Manatee School for the Arts before a crowd of 5,000 at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

Other student speakers: Nick Drivas, Angelika Robison, Emily Wainio-Oato and Madison Petrone.

"Please promise me you won't forget how amazing you are," Jarmoszko told her 159 fellow graduates, 120 of whom, like Jarmoszko, are "Originals" who have attended MSA since the sixth grade.

MSA, in operation since 1998, is a public charter school dedicated to the visual and performing arts.

Jarmoszko's dream is to do graphic design for National Geographic. She is heading for the University of South Florida.

Jarmoszko said moments before graduation she was thinking of her father, Rich Jarmoszko, who lives in Arizona and could not attend.

"Thank you, dad," she said.

Special graduates

Ellenton resident and MSA senior Belineda Bellune plans to become a baby doctor. Her fans, and there were many at the MSA graduation, say she will be whatever she wants to be.

"Belineda is extremely bright and excels at everything she touches," said Delena Guerin.

Guerin runs a youth group called J Kids at My Father's House church in Ellenton. Guerin is so fond of Bellune she cut her vacation short in the Florida Keys to come to Bellune's graduation to bring her a purple rose.

"Belineda is a straight A student, an accomplished seamstress, makes her own skirts and quilts and she is also a wonderful musician," Guerin said. "I could talk about her all day."

Drivas talked about his feeling of walking through the door of the school the first time when he was an eighth-grader.

"I will never forget it," he said. "It was the start of something beautiful. I needed a new start. I found teachers who pushed me to a love of theater."

At the end of his speech, Drivas yelled: "I've had the time of my life! Thank you faculty. Thank you staff. Thank you parents. Now, let's go out there and show them what we've got!"

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.

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