BAKER — Ninety Baker School graduates flipped their mortarboard tassels to the left Thursday night and processed into Gator history. A whole new life awaited many.
"I'm going to college at Northwest Florida State for dental hygiene," Caitlyn Cassidy said while posing for a photo with two of her classmates.
Haley Wagner, who delivered the Graduate's Address, will study nursing at Troy University. She said she will miss the closeness of the kindergarten-through-12th-grade school.
"Being at Baker, you can stay here your whole school career," Haley said. "I've been with some of these guys since kindergarten."
Teachers distributed hugs and words of congratulations as the students lined up on the west side of Doug Griffith Stadium prior to processing to their waiting seats.
"This is a great class," culinary arts teacher and sports coach Rusty Oglesby said. "We're such a small school I've taught some of these kids since sixth grade. You don't to do that in other schools."
The night was muggy and the gnats were voracious, but, as Baker School Principal Tom Shipp said, "At least it's not raining. We'll take that!"
Prior to the ceremony, students helped each other adjust their caps and gowns and excitedly posed for photos with family members and friends before their last official act at Baker School.
"It is with passion, courage and conviction that we take our next steps in this world," Haley said during her address. "Look around and enjoy this moment. This is the last time we will all be together."
Haley also reminded her classmates to keep their faith strong as they enter the next chapter of their lives.
"Don't forget the greatest guide of all, the one who promised to never forsake you," she said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.