The Franklin County High School gymnasium resounded with cheers Friday night, as the entire community celebrated the 10th annual graduation ceremony.
The Class of 2017’s 57 graduating seniors, more than a third of whom earned highest honors, walked proudly across the stage to receive their diplomas from Superintendent Traci Moses, former Principal Chip Clatto and School Board Chairman Stacy Kirvin.
The gym was packed, and the rafters shook, during the ceremony which opened with a processional of the graduates to “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the high school band.
Class Vice President Scout Segree led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Class Secretary Melody Hatfield the National Anthem and Class Treasurer Mallorie Shiver gave the invocation.
Chip Clatto, who served as principal this year before moving on to Thomasville Central High School, was giving a warm and rousing reception from the students and audience, as he offered his best wishes to the graduating class.
Following the welcome from Class President Maxwell Davis, Clatto and Guidance Counselor Roderick Robinson presented plaques to the valedictorian and salutatorian.
Valedictorian Jackson Reed Subbarao, the son of Jaime Duhart and Vikra Subbarao, plans to study coastal engineering science at the University of North Florida.
“The road that lies ahead won't be easy,” he told his classmates in his address. “There will be obstacles and missed exits, potholes and roadblocks. There will be times when each of us will feel like we cannot possibly go on. There will be times when each of us will think we are alone, with our backs against the wall.
“But we are not alone - we are family, we are in this journey Together. We've made it this far -why back out now? Nothing worthwhile is easy, and that includes making the most of our futures,” he said. “From this day forward, let's make each decision with our best interests in mind. Let's believe in ourselves so that we may reach our goals and fulfill our dreams. Let's be the best that we can be so that we may fill our lives and the lives closest to us with happiness and pride. Let's all be better today than we were yesterday.”
Salutatorian Astrid Gissel Ramirez, daughter of Jose Ramirez and Amanda Flores, plans to study nursing at Florida State University.
“It seems like only yesterday when I walked through the doors of FCHS for the very first time as freshmen,” she told her classmates. “The group of terrified ABC kids followed the Franklin kids around like lost puppies because we had no idea what we were doing. Four years later and we are no longer ABC and Franklin kids, we have merged to become one huge family. Some of my closest friends are the Franklin kids that I was initially so terrified of.”
Ramirez paid tribute to the six young women from the graduating class who have already earned an associates degree from Gulf Coast State College. (See story next week.
“All our hard work has paid off, and although it seems like an eternity of watching class after class graduate, it’s finally our turn. The ride has been great, but it is time for a new chapter in our storybooks,” said Ramirez in her closing.
Before the diplomas were presented, and Moses, who had been at many of the students’ kindergarten graduations a dozen years earlier, advised them they could turn their tassels, the evening was marked by several warm and inspiring moments.
After Kalin Wilson offered a tribute to parents, the senior class handed out flowers to their parents and loved ones, as is the school’s tradition. Charles Petty sang a wondrous version of the class song “I Lived” by OneRepublic, and there was the slide show of class pictures and baby pictures, all part of a ceremony masterfully handled by the graduation committee, chaired by Leigh Smith and including Carla Bankston, Delores Croomk, Karyl Gavigan and Natasha Pennycuff.
A group from the class stepped forward to pay special tribute to teacher Sherry Bass. The students told the gathering that they had become quite entertained by Bass’ “long stories about life and All of its meanings, and her passion for good writing!
“The students’ need for their teacher grew as she began to challenge them and push them with creative assignments and class discussion. She continued to raise the bar of expectation and they needed her more and more as the school years passed. Not only did their need for her grow, her need for them began to be evident to these students and they responded with great love,” they said.
Following the awarding of diplomas, Davis closed the ceremony with a benediction, and the seniors streamed out of the gym to celebrate with their families.
In addition to Subbarao and Ramirez, graduating with highest honors, for a grade point average of 3.75 to 4.0, were:
Adriana Jean Butler, daughter of Andrew Butler and Connie and Gary Hunnings, who plans to study nursing at Gulf Coast State College
Tessa Elaine Carlisle, daughter of Misty Cardin, who plans to pursue a doctorate in forensic anthropology at Florida State after completing Gulf Coast State College
Holly Marie Chambers, daughter of Andy and Michelle Chambers, who plans to attend the Florida State University at Panama City
Megan Ashley Collins, daughter of Deborah Collins and Scott Collins, who will attend the College of Coastal Georgia on a golf scholarship and study law
Christopher Cash Creamer, son of Chris and Suzanne Creamer, who plans to become a general contractor after completing Gulf Coast State College
Logan Charles Crosby, son of of Martha Ward and Michael Crosby, who will study computer science at Florida Polytechnic University
Maxwell Logan Davis, son of Meghan Davis and Bert Davis, who plans to enlist in the Air Force
Jaylon Decarian Gainer, son of Jacqueline Joseph, who plans to study business at Tallahassee Community College
Melody Faith Hatfield, daughter of Ginger Wood and Larry Hatfield, who plans to study elementary education at Florida State University at Panama City
Kindsey Reese Hersey, daughter of Kendell Curles and Matthew Hersey, who plans to complete her associate’s degree at Tallahassee Community College and then pursue a master’s degree in history
Kacey Lee Howard, daughter of Stephanie Sanders, who plans to study education at Gulf Coast State College
Allie Elizabeth Kirvin, daughter of Stacey and Elizabeth Kirvin. to study psychology and criminology, at the University of West Florida
Zachary Allan May, son of Wendy Martini and Jay May, who plans to move to Atlanta to pursue a photography and business career
Charles Richard Petty, son of Heather Petty and Hank Miller, who plans to complete his associate’s degree at Gulf Coast State College and then study music at the University of South Florida
Landa Ann Marie Reeder, daughter of Sheri Mann and Kenny Reeder, who plans to attend the University of West Florida
Chelsea Rae Register, daughter of Leigh Smith and Fred Register, who plans to study dental hygiene at Tallahassee Community College
Alexis Marie Segree, daughter of Joseph and Lani Segree, who plans to attend the University of North Florida and then get a master’s degree in anthropology to become a museum curator
Scout Shae Segree,, daughter of Brad and Teresa Segree, who plans to study law at the University of West Florida
Mallorie Michele Shiver, daughter of Mike and Melanie Shiver, who plans to study sonography at Gulf Coast State College
Thomas Cole Subbarao, son of Jaime Duhart and Vikra Subbarao, who plans to study business at the University of South Florida
Tyanna Elizabeth Townsend, daughter of Rufus and Ericka Townsend, who plans to study math and early childhood education at Florida State University
Graduating with high honors, for a 3.5 to 3.749 grade point, were:
Tiffany Lashai Glass, daughter of Luther Glass, who plans to study accounting at Haney Technical Center
Bianca True Huber, daughter of Michelle Huber and Tony Huber, who plans to attend the University of Tampa
Zackary Michael Przygocki, son of Scott and Annette Przygocki, who plans to study business at Tallahassee Community College and then Florida State University
Alyssa Rae Shiver, daughter of Robin Freeman and James Shiver, who plans to study medical sonography at Gulf Coast State College
Anna Nicole Smith, daughter of Larry and Stephanie Smith, who plans to study nursing at Gulf Coast State College.
Graduating with honors, for a 3.0 to 3.499 grade point, were:
Tia Salone Cummings, daughter of Latrina Lockley and Demetrice Cummings, who plans to study early child development, at FAMU
Jill Lea Diestelhorst, granddaughter of Bert Worthy and the late Eary Worthy, who plans to study pre-veterinary medicine, at Gulf Coast State College
Tony Michael Fuentes, son of Melissa Britcher and Joshua Britcher, who plans to study nursing at Gulf Coast State College
Tea Patricia Kelly, daughter of Caroline Long and Mike Kelly, who plans to study criminal justice at Gulf Coast State College
Myranda R. McLeod, daughter of Gene and Bridget McLeod, who plans to study cosmetology at Haney Technical Center
Natasia Breeon Robinson, daughter of Lakeshia Collins and Dre Robinson, who plans to study social work at Bethune-Cookman University
Scott Martin Sawesky, son of Adrianna Sawesky, who plans to study business analytics and information systems at the University of South Florida
Jencyn Dorothy Stultz, daughter of Joseph and Sunny Stultz-Dunaway, who plans to study sports entertainment and management, at Johnson and Wales University
Kenneth Kalin Wilson, son of Claudine Kellogg-Wilson and Kenneth Wilson, who plans to study athletic training at the University of West Florida and hopes to walk on their basketball team
Emily Marie Zingarelli, daughter of Lisa Zingarelli and Chad Zingarelli, who plans to attend the University of West Florida
Receiving a standard diploma were:
Justin Cory Arellano, son of Venus Garza and nephew of Randall and Angel Quick, who plans to study welding at Haney Technical Center
Tanner Gene Boone, son of Gene and Jennifer Boone, who plans to study at Haney Technical Center to become an electrician
Bryan Carter Boyd, son of Marvin and Christine Boyd, who plans to continue making music and saving money
David Hunter Butler, son of Lena Butler and Rhett Butler, who plans to enlist in the Army and become an Army Ranger
Jaxson Bayley Cook, son of Criss Watts and Dee Cook, who plans to enlist in the Air Force
Greyson Ward Creamer, son of Mark Creamer, who plans to study at Haney Technical Center to become a plumber
Quantavius Jawon Fuller, son of Tami Richardson and Torianto Fuller, who plans to get a college degree in business and eventually own his own business and become the world’s greatest rapper
Ronald Lee Henderson, III, son of Ron and Cleo Henderson, who plans to study graphic design and computer programming at Gulf Coast State College
Tyler De'andre Howard, son of Nikita Williams and Simon Howard, who plans to attend Hillsborough Community College to play football and study sports management
Robert Pierce Kilgore, son of Amy Barnette and Robert Kilgore, who plans to study software engineering at a vocational school
Conner Alexzander Mathes, son of Lee Mathes and Buddy Mathes, who plans to study welding at Lively Technical Center
Tiara Nizjay Mathis, daughter of Yolanda Mills and Joseph Mills, who plans to become a nurse through study at Goodwill Industries Training Center
Sabrina Shyann McQueen, daughter of Wendy Stewart and James McQueen, who plans to study to become a veterinarian technician with Penn Foster College
Jeremiah Tylor Millender, son of Brooke Trail and Jonathan Millender, plans to enlist in the U.S. military, or be a mountain or whitewater rafting guide, skydiving instructor or photographer
Jonathan Taylor Millender, son of Brooke Trail and Jonathan Millender, who plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force
Corbin Bryce Rester, son of April Hogan Rester and Lanny Rester, who plans to study to become an electrician at Haney Technical Center
Preston Pierce Shaver, grandson of David Holstein, who plans to study cybersecurity or art at Gulf Coast State College
Athen Patrick Shipman, son of Amanda Ham and grandson of Joe and Shirley Ham, plans to work for the Florida Forestry Service
Connor Reed Smith, son of Roger and Madelyn Smith, who plans to study forestry at Gulf Coast State College and then the University of Florida.