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FPC Commencement Stirs Tassels and Circumstance at Daytona’s Ocean Center

| May 24, 2010

They're coming. (FlaglerLive)

The doors have opened, parents, friends and family have started streaming into the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, where by about 9 p.m. tonight some 506 students, their caps airborne, will turn into Flagler Palm Coast High School’s newest graduates.


Listen to Yasmiyn Ibrahiym Sing the National Anthem (With Thanks to Jasper Johns)
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On tap: Yasmiyn Ibrahiym, who’ll be belting the Star Spangled Banner, a welcome from Brendan Dean, the class president, Salutatorian Taylor Tofal, more music, and the valedictorian address, seemingly the last (the school is retiring the tradition) by Anthony DeAugustino.

The more eminent generation follows, with Nancy Willis, who spent the last few years as FPC’s principal before moving crosstown to Old Kings Elementary a few weeks ago, presenting diplomas with Jacob Oliva, who replaced her at FPC. Superintendent Bill Delbrugge, for whom this will be the last graduation before he leaves for Cairo, will deliver the final words: Acceptance of the Class of 2010.

7:15: They’ve been walking in to cheers, handshakes and a few high fives, with the school’s faculty and the school board lined up at either end of the floor.


Listen to Taylor Tofal’s Complete Speech
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Here’s an excerpt from Taylor Tofal’s speech: “This year especially has been one of overwhelming happiness as we, the senior class, moved closer to this day. The day that we have been looking forward to. The light at the end of that long, long tunnel of senioritis: graduation. But we should also, as we consider this past year, think about those grades that probably weren’t as good as we’d have liked them to be, of the fight over things that were less important, and the friendships we lost because of them. Of the challenges that we have overcome, and the people–the parents, family, teachers, staff and friends, who have helped us, and sometimes dragged us through it.

“Tonight is a night to celebrate them. To consider the tenacity—those closest to me know to call it stubbornness—the dedication, and the hard work that we, the senior class, have put into this year, and to celebrate, because we are here. This night is the culmination of those hours spent not sleeping, and the tortuous classes after pulling that all-nighter, of the thousands of trees that we have undoubtedly collectively killed after printing four years of English essays, and of the sacrifices, and difficult choices and challenges that we have all faced and overcome.”


Listen to Anthony deAugustino’s Full Speech
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And here he is, Anthony deAugustino, delivering what may be the last valedictory at an FPC graduation: “I must share with you how honored I am to be your valedictorian. I am humbled by your achievements in academics, athletics and the arts. But such talent and so many accolades should not be mentioned alone. We must be thankful for what we’ve been given and the opportunities that have been presented to us. Personally first I want to thank God because without him I do not believe I would be where I am today.

“You see, Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a plan for us and a purpose for us, and as I think back on my life I see that as validated because I can see the many blessings that God has given me, and so I’m thankful. And on a side note, may we never forget what God has done for us, and may we never cease to be thankful for those things, as long as we are one nation under God, and we declare that it is in God we trust.”

“You’re eager and anxious to start,” FPC Principal Nancy Willis has just told them, “it’s time to move on. But when you cross the threshold, look backward to see how far you’ve come, and remember, use your god-given talents to lend a hand to those who have followed in your footsteps, the footsteps of the class of 2010.”


The Song
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Rachael Adkins, Rachel Larson and Yasmiyn Ibrahiym sang a pretty moving song between Taylor’s and Anthony’s speeches, turning the Ocean Center into a scene from American Idol. But the crowd was just warming up for what was to follow: the awarding of diplomas by Nancy Willis, Jacob Oliva and Delbrugge. Barbara Beach’s voice—she announced all 506 names—never wavered.

The photo gallery, below.

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8 Responses for “FPC Commencement Stirs Tassels and Circumstance at Daytona’s Ocean Center”

  1. Kim Carney says:

    There were actually 506 students receiving their diploma…what a mad house! But lots of fun! A great group of young adults.

  2. Merrill says:

    It would be interesting to note whether or not Valedictorian Anthony deAugustino’s remarks were vetted by a member of the faculty of Flagler Palm Coast High School. While we don’t know Yasmiyn Ibrahiym religious inclinations, it makes the question of religious references even more interesting.
    Suppose, instead of referring to Jeremiah, deAugustino had said “You see, the Koran, Surah 3: Ayahs 189-191 say that God has a plan for us and a purpose for us…..” Would that have been OK with all who were present?
    Intended or not, did deAugustino send a message to graduates and family that FPC’s graduation is a religious activity? Intended or not, did deAugustino send a message to graduates and family who do not share his, or the majority’s religious convictions that was heard as “You are out of step! Believe as we do or you do not belong?”
    I’m not claiming to know the answers here, just raising questions so that all of us can give serious thought to the role of religion in Flagler County’s public schools.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Merrill, your comment has an interesting twist to it. I doubt that the ridiculous cheering would have rocked the room if the Koran or even the Torah was mentioned. Why did he have to put such a comment into the graduation of all of FPCHS? Did he not think that maybe his comments would offend anyone who is not a Christian? Even if this is what he believed in, the graduation of all the the high schools seniors is not the proper place to do it. Graduation should be a congratulations to all of the seniors who have worked so hard. ALL seniors of ALL faiths and ALL beliefs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s what freedom of speech is all about. Unfortuately the majority tend to sit back while the minority always complain. If Mr. DeAugustino earned the spot of Valedictorian then it should be his speech to give, whether you agree or not. Yes, he could have referenced the Koran, but obviously he is not of that faith. Maybe, just maybe he gave a speech from his heart and why he believes he was standing up there. Stop judging for his beliefs and give him credit for his accomplishments.

  5. Michael Harsch says:

    Merrill,
    What is it to be offended? Do you not prefer Anthony’s dialect? Very well then, you are in this most wonderful country where you have the freedom to pursue any religion and belief you wish. Anthony did not use this platform to proselytize, but rather to express the core values of his heart and life. Those beliefs and convictions that brought him to such a place of success and accomplishment. Are we not offended at obscene lyrics on a radio station, or racy ads on a tv commercial? Is it offensive when the very public school that Anthony attends would teach a class called “Theory of Knowledge” which implements the concept that there is no absolute truth. Thus nullifying any and all of Anthony’s convictions in God. Yes, these things are offensive to some, and yes, they make an impact on our thinking and our lives. Yet, I have the tremendous freedom to turn the station, turn the channel, take a different class. God is an appropriate and relevant reference in our society. He must remain! Those who do not honor Him have the freedom to do so (to their peril- might I add).
    It took an outstanding amount of courage and resolve for Anthony to share what he genuinely believed. No one there that night was required to follow his beliefs, but obviously it made a lot of people think. Were we not founded as “One Nation Under God”? Is it not sung at baseball games? Is it not on our currency? There are many things that we could afford to remove from our culture, our schools, and our lives. As you can obviously tell, I for one do not think that God is one that we can afford to remove. I thank God for Anthony.

  6. Michael says:

    Merrill,
    What is it to be offended? Do you not prefer Anthony’s dialect? Very well then, you are in this most wonderful country where you have the freedom to pursue any religion and belief you wish. Anthony did not use this platform to proselytize, but rather to express the core values of his heart and life. Those beliefs and convictions that brought him to such a place of success and accomplishment. Are we not offended at obscene lyrics on a radio station, or racy ads on a tv commercial? Is it offensive when the very public school that Anthony attends would teach a class called “Theory of Knowledge” which implements the concept that there is no absolute truth. Thus nullifying any and all of Anthony’s convictions in God. Yes, these things are offensive to some, and yes, they make an impact on our thinking and our lives. Yet, I have the tremendous freedom to turn the station, turn the channel, take a different class. God is an appropriate and relevant reference in our society. He must remain! Those who do not honor Him have the freedom to do so (to their peril- might I add).
    It took an outstanding amount of courage and resolve for Anthony to share what he genuinely believed. No one there that night was required to follow his beliefs, but obviously it made a lot of people think. Were we not founded as “One Nation Under God”? Is it not sung at baseball games? Is it not on our currency? There are many things that we could afford to remove from our culture, our schools, and our lives. As you can obviously tell, I for one do not think that God is one that we can afford to remove. I thank God for Anthony.

  7. John Mauro says:

    Sir, This county allows you the freedom of speech to write your point of view about this young man’s speech. Unfortunately, you sit and type this aritcle from the comfort of your office or home. I commend this young gentelman, not only to gradualte with this honor, but to stand infront of many of his peers and speak from his heart. I for one am proud of him to not fold under society’s view of God and be afraid to live by his standards. With respect, if we had more young men and women of his caliber, we would not be afraid of fighting for our views. I ask this question; if it was an over paid athelete who thanked God for his athletic ability and winning a game, would you sit behind your computer and write about his speech after the game. I bet you would write about his accomplishments on the field.

  8. David Sasser says:

    Why do people get so offended at the mention of God? That’s a good question. As my family sat and watched the movie “Expelled”, my 12 year old son asked the question, “Why do people believe such ridiculous theories?”, speaking of all the different theories to explain our origin. “Well son”, I said, “because people hate God and His laws and they will come up with anything to deny His existence.” Why do Christians use the public forum to share their faith? First, because we’re commanded to, second, because of our love for Him, we’re compelled to and last, because to deny our Creator, Sovereign Lord and Savior would be a great sin. The fact is… we can’t help it.

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