The Royal Palm Beach High School Class of 2018 commencement ceremony will take place Wednesday, May 16 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. The ceremony is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., when an expected 509 senior class students will graduate after four years of hard effort.
Valedictorian Ethan Caballero and Salutatorian Olivia Tidd reflected on their time at Royal Palm Beach High School and made it clear that the school has had a powerful impact on their lives in preparation for their future goals.
Both shared inspirational words for up-and-coming students as their four years of high school comes to a close. Caballero shared some tips in seeking out the programs available.
“I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities here at this school,” Caballero said. “Challenge yourself. Don’t forget to take advantage of everything the school has to offer. Hard work pays off.”
Tidd shared her advice with upcoming students. “It’s really important to work hard in your classes, and it’s also important to know that you are still in high school and it’s part of your childhood,” she said. “It’s so important that you are maintaining the high school memories.”
Both had teachers who impacted their growth academically. Grateful to the entire school, they pointed out just a few.
“I would definitely say, Mrs. [Bozena] Lack-Bartley. She is an AP U.S. and world history teacher. She has definitely taught me perseverance in the academic world,” Caballero said. “She has taught me the importance of taking on tough challenges. I wasn’t certain I should take such high-level classes. I took them and ended up loving it.”
He also thanked his AICE math teacher, Daniella Suarez. “She taught me that a teacher could make a huge difference in the subject you are learning,” Caballero said. “Especially with math at that time, I was questioning myself. She revitalized my whole outlook on math.”
Tidd mentioned several of her teachers who came to mind as influencing her time in high school.
“There have been a few teachers who have been really incredible whom I would like to thank,” she said. “Ms. Suarez taught me AICE math. Mr. [Daniel] DiCurcio taught AP psychology this year. He made the subject really fun to learn. Also Mrs. Lack. She taught me AP world history, and I had the opportunity to travel to Greece with her last summer. She is one of my favorite people on campus.”
Both spoke about their appreciation to their parents.
“I would definitely have to thank my parents,” Caballero said. “They are my heroes. My mom has always pushed me to better myself, and both of them have always been there for me. My dad has instilled hard work into me, and my mom is a huge factor as to why I am in the position I am in.”
Tidd thanked her parents for supporting her academic drive.
“People always ask me if it’s my parents who have pushed me to do well in school, but it’s exactly the opposite,” she said. “They really encouraged me to get out with my friends more. It’s an internal thing for me to want to succeed. My mom has been great in supporting my wanting to take more classes, though she has also been supportive in making sure I get enough sleep and that I am not skipping meals and that I do spend time with my friends. My mom has definitely had one of the most impacts on my life. She has supported me through all the high school stuff, even the parts that were really difficult.”
Caballero particularly enjoyed the school’s engineering program. “Mr. [Robert] Krasnicki is the head of the Engineering Academy, which I have been a part of. This was his first year taking over the Engineering Academy. He has helped us fundraise $20,000 for our international robotics team.”
Caballero served as president of the team and thanked Krasnicki for his support.
“He has been a huge factor in keeping the team functioning, and he has helped me personally with schoolwork,” Caballero said. “He has fit the role perfectly in knowing I want to go into the engineering field, and he has been incredibly helpful in his being a former engineer. To have such an instrumental teacher with you every day, he has become an amazing mentor.”
Both are looking forward to graduation day.
“I look forward to the pinnacle of everything we have worked hard for and to finally get our diplomas,” Caballero said.
Caballero will be attending the University of Florida in Gainesville starting this summer. “I am going to be pursuing a major in aerospace engineering, and I plan to minor in business,” he said.
As graduation day approaches, Tidd is getting more excited. “I am looking forward to seeing family that will be coming in, and I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends together,” she said.
Tidd will be attending Stetson University. “It took me a while to decide where I wanted to go,” she said. “Stetson seems like the perfect place for me. It’s a small, private school. I’m not sure yet what I will be studying, although Stetson is great at encouraging students to look into different career paths. So, I am excited to start there next year.”
Both students had great things to say about Royal Palm Beach High School, and particularly, Principal Dr. Jesús Armas.
“I have seen this school over the four years I have been here,” Caballero said. “He has done a phenomenal job taking the school from where it used to be to where it is now. The programs have just been growing, especially the engineering program. We had the First Robotics team. It’s such a huge deal in the fact that we have one. It’s so positive for the Engineering Academy. Everything under Dr. Armas and his team, from a student’s perspective, I truly appreciate it.”