Tarpon Springs Principal Clint Herbic, at podium, with Mayor David Archie, left, and Pinellas County School Board member Robin Wikle, center, began June 2 graduation ceremonies by applauding the seniors on all of their accomplishments throughout their four years at Tarpon Springs High School.
TARPON SPRINGS – Above the howl of the wind and the applause of friends and family, Tarpon Springs High School Principal Clint Herbic read the names of 347 graduating seniors on a night that continually threatened rain.
Hundreds of guests crowded the bleachers on Sponger Field June 2. Tarpon Springs was the only high school in the county to hold graduation on the school football field – to celebrate seniors who were one handshake, one certificate, one change of a tassel from right to left away from the next step in their lives.
“This is it,” Salutatorian Maria Pantelis pronounced to the loud cheers of her classmates during her commencement address. “We made it.”
The Tarpon Springs Class of 2014 was making history, Herbic informed the students and guests. They were the first class to earn three “A” grades from the Florida Department of Education, first recognized by the Washington Post as one of the top high schools in the country during all four years of their tenure and first to graduate all 15 students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (all 15 also will attend college in the fall). Every student in the Veterinary Science Academy passed their veterinary exam and every student enrolled in the early college program earned both their high school diploma and associate’s degree. The Jacobson Culinary Academy was named state champions twice and runners-up twice and the marching band, led by State Teacher of the Year nominee Kevin Ford, raked in numerous awards, including Band of America for two years and a performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
The 93 percent graduation rate was the highest in the history of Tarpon Springs High School and the highest in Pinellas County this year.
This was also the first time in decades that the Greek national flag was flown along with the American flag and the Florida State flag behind the ceremony.
“Class of 2014,” Herbic said, “it’s all about you now.”