Palm Beach Central High School sent 671 graduating seniors into the world Wednesday, bidding farewell to a senior class that made numerous contributions to the community and earned wide recognition for their personal accomplishments.
Principal B.E. “Butch” Mondy Jr. said that the 2014 senior class had been awarded millions in scholarships and that many of the graduating seniors will begin their college careers as sophomores or juniors due to their completion of Advanced Placement courses.
Their participation in St. Baldrick’s events raised more than $35,000, and the National Honor Society Dance Marathon raised almost $25,000 to fight childhood cancer. “That is the most in the State of Florida,” Mondy said, adding that those and other initiatives raised more than $73,000 in the fight against childhood cancer.
Seniors donated 545 units of blood, and a fundraiser for Together Against Genocide raised $24,500 toward its Darfur Dream Team sister school program — the No. 1 fundraiser for that cause in the nation.
The Senior Ensemble won the Critic’s Choice award and 18 superior ratings at the district level, three at the state level, while the play Beauty and the Beast drew the highest ticket sales in the history of the school.
A PBCHS senior placed first in the state in technical drawing, second in architectural drawing, second in cabinetmaking and third in related technical math. Other seniors led the way in athletics, with conference titles for the boys and girls soccer teams, boys and girls bowling teams, and the boys and girls cross country teams.
The football team won the district championship for the second consecutive year, while the girls basketball team also won the district championship.
“In athletics this year, we have 21 seniors who made all-conference, 10 all-area, 12 all-county, three state qualifiers and one named player of the year,” Mondy said.
Mondy saluted the graduating seniors for all they have achieved.
“We have just heard about the wonderful accomplishments of the Class of 2014,” Mondy said. “This is what they have done. Let’s take a moment to talk about who they are. They are truly the most caring group of men and women that I have had the honor to meet. Their participation and giving to service clubs to assist the needy and the unfortunate was incredible.”
Seniors spent time in elementary schools reading to students, raised money to fight childhood cancer and help oppressed children worldwide.
“Intentions do not accomplish anything,” Mondy said. “Eventually, you have to step up and make a difference. These young men and women before us today not only stepped out but stepped up. Seniors, you are truly difference-makers. Thank you so much for the gift that you have given and the legacy that you leave at Palm Beach Central High School.”
Salutatorian Alexa Morrow, who graduated with an honors point average of 5.08, will be attending the University of Florida to study electrical engineering. She said the senior class has achieved the unimaginable through its numerous events during the year.
“Our school has consistently immersed itself in community involvement,” Morrow said. “Through various events, our school has raised a substantial amount of money in order to make a difference. Our class has left an unforgettable mark in the history of Palm Beach Central — a mark that we can be proud of.”
Successes notwithstanding, Morrow said some failure is inevitable. “Sometimes it may shroud your judgment and consume your thoughts, but once you’re down, will you just lie down and wait for your life to get better, or pick yourself up and embrace the lesson and move on?” she asked. “Nobody can escape failure, but everybody has the opportunity to gain from it.”
Valedictorian Tanner Waters maintained a 5.15 HPA, won the 2014 Pathfinder Audubon Society of the Everglades Scholarship and will attend Duke University to study environmental law.
Waters said the combination of freedom of thought, expression and individualism all roll together to form an immutable mind and soul.
“This continual pursuit for bliss can never be fully achieved unless one discovers his or her own passion,” he said. “Some people have already found their direction in life by the time they graduate from high school. Others discover theirs much later. If we were placed on this earth for a reason, we’re exclusively programmed for a different cause. Find a cause you are fervent about that sparks your passion and will give your life its most meaning, and pursue it with an indomitable spirit.”
Waters quoted from Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson to illustrate conviction: “I will drink Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d/Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those/That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when/Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades/Vext the dim sea: I am become a name.”
“Never be stationary in your existence,” Waters said. “Never accept mediocrity. Never be OK with just enough. Being idle is the antithesis of progress. You will never make your mark on society unless you recognize the need for change and then act.”