Seminole Heights Charter High School Graduates New Class
The mission of saving 16 troubled or disadvantaged youth from missing out on an education was completed on Friday night.
Seminole Heights Charter High School awarded a new class of seniors their diplomas on Friday night in the Hillsborough High School auditorium.
The school specializes in serving students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of school, or who are on the verge of dropping out. It also serves students whose circumstances require a non-traditional high school setting. Students come from diverse backgrounds and circumstances that challenge their ability to be successful, such as early parenthood, foster care, poverty, and recent immigrant status.
Such was the case for Robert March Jr., who had trouble getting into high school due to paperwork issues after moving to Florida from Connecticut. At times, there were doubts in his mind as to whether or not he would ever where a cap and gown, but Friday night he completed a mission in his life.
"I decided when I moved down here that it was a new atmosphere and that it would be a new routine for me," March said. "When I saw how much work it would be, I had my doubts, but when I started getting to work and going with the flow, putting in extra time, I saw the end result coming."
March Jr. recently got a job at Busch Gardens and intends to build a career with the theme park giant going forward as he pursues a college degree.
Guest speaker Bob Conigliaro, vice president of Casper's Company, which operates more than 40 McDonald's franchises in Florida, provided some motivational material with his 11 bits of advice for success for the graduates as they head out into the real world. Most of them are planning on college careers now that they have a diploma, a future as bright as they've ever imagined.
"This is a great day for me personally because all my brothers graduated from high school, and I didn't want to break a family tradition," said Zarele Marshay Brown-Covert. "Now I plan on going on to HCC and transferring to a university to study business management. I have a lot of good memories of the teachers and administrators who helped me along the way, so today is nice to make them proud too."
For administrators and teachers like Kristy McCarren, the ceremony is the payoff for the hard work and patience they put into helping the kids succeed.
"I'm so proud of these kids," McCarren said. "I remember when Zarele got a job she was so happy, and now she is going to go onto college and do great things. It's amazing to see how far these kids come and the people they become."