With their principal recalling their journey from Barney to 911 to a globalized world of conflict craving “a loving attitude,” to quotes from Confucius, Harry Potter and Vladimir Jean-Pierre–the class president–and to the now standard-issue screams of a few thousand lungs filled with pride, Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Class of 2011 graduated tonight at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, to begin, in Jacob Oliva’s words, “competing for jobs that haven’t yet been invented.”
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Jean-Pierre credited the faculty, made appeals to his generation to define its own future, and turned personal only to evoke the story of his grandfather as the man who’d shaped his outlook and commitments. “Growing up in Haiti,” Jean-Pierre said of his grandfather, “he didn’t have the same opportunities we do when it came to education or really anything else for that matter. He didn’t graduate from high school, and he never had the privilege of being part of a commencement ceremony such as this one. Despite that, he never let his descendants take for granted the value of an education, and he tried to impress this upon all of us with his actions.”
The 509 graduates, Principal Oliva said, represent a generation of millenialls whose abilities to take on the world has been doubted by experts. “I disagree,” he said, before enumerating this class’ achievements so far: 21 graduating cum laude, 52 magna cum laude, 30 suma cum laude, eight graduating with an associates degree from Daytona State College already secured. The class as a whole recorded 267 IB exams, some 200 Advanced Placement exams, and collected half a million dollars in scholarships.
For all that, their principal had this bit of advice: ““If you don’t know how to chill out, you’ll burn out.”
There were no valedictorian and salutatorian speeches this year–no valedictorian or salutatorian: this district, like many others, has done away with the distinction, which was proving contentious (if not litigious). So Kaci Ellis offered the welcome, and Vladimir Jean-Pierre, class president, delivered the commencement address.
“Now,” Jean-Pierre said in an address virtually free of references to himself or his own accomplishments, “it is our responsibility to take all that we have learned and apply it in the real world, where we can make a positive impact for ourselves and for those around us. Giving back to the community around us should not be secondary to our pursuit of personal success, popularity or self-advancement, but rather a devotion to a far greater purpose–the improvement of our communities, both local and otherwise.”
Jean-Pierre finished on a simile he termed “geographically and culturally relevant,” comparing the evening to “the final countdown to the shuttle mission that is the rest of your life.” And presumably a mission more enduring than the shuttle program, which is being grounded after next month’s final flight.
After the long, ceremonial awarding of the diplomas, Superintendent Janet Valentine took to the stage and declared the graduates “our tickets to a better world” before punctuating the evening with her final duty, so far as the Class of 2011 is concerned: “By virtue of the power vested upon me as the superintendent of Flagler County schools, I hereby declare you graduates. Please move your tassel from the right to the left. Congratulations, and have a safe evening.”
The caps went airborne.
FPC Commencement 2011: The Photo Gallery
Congrats to all of these young people and to their parents!!! I have been privileged to coach and be around these kids and I am very happy for them and wish all of them a wonderful and bright future.
Ryan M says
P.S. Great article as well. I plan to continue to read this site even when away at college to keep up the current events of my home town.
Katie Bryl says
haha, Picture 11 is me, my hat was falling off!! Oh goodness.
John Rogers says
Congratulations to the class of 2011! A special shout out to the varsity Basketball seniors, David Probstel, Brandon Berry, Billy Boyer, and the big fella Lawrence Certain, best of luck to you guys.
I made it through the ceremony and most of the evening without tears although Rachelle and Alvante’s musical performances almost broke me.
But reading your article and looking at the pictures brought those tears that I held back last night. THANK YOU for such a personal and touching article that so brilliantly captured the spirit of this group of terrific kids.
I am the proud parent of a 2011 FPC Graduate- a product of Flagler County Schools since Kindergarten. I’ve never regretted my choice to raise him here and I hope every day that the kids graduating in the coming years, as well as their parents have the same wonderful experience and memories as our family does.
Kids, get involved in something that matters to you- a sport, an art, a club, just do something and stay committed to it. Parents, give your time and energy to the things your kids love. Volunteer to help fundraise, show up to events with a camera and take pictures, invite your kid’s friends into your home and get to know them. As Vlad said in his speech last night,(sic) “There are people who let things happen, there are people who make things happen and there are people who wonder what happened. What will you be?”
Both growing up and parenting demand that you be a make things happen kind of person………I promise the investment will pay off in a tremendous young adult.
Jim Guines says
This is what it is all about!! I not only commend the students for a job well done, but the principal and the superintendent. I am very proud of all of them, They should be proud of their accomplishment.
Frankie & Sandra Smith says
Congrats to our son Keeonie Williams and the entire Graduating of Class of 2011!!! You did son!!
Much love:Dad, Mom, Stacie and jeremy..Jon’trell and jaedrian
Congratulations to all the graduating students, their teachers and administrators. Now proceed with your higher education that can open the doors to become the future leaders of our country.