Resilient Hawks Ready To Fly At SRHS Graduation On May 23

The 560 members of the Class of 2024 will be remembered as one of the most academically accomplished and perhaps the most focused in the 19-year history of Seminole Ridge High School, according to Principal Robert Hatcher.

Noting that they have bounced back from the distractions of a worldwide pandemic occurring their freshman year, Hatcher said this week, “Resilient is the best word I can think of to describe this class. They’ve had a level of focus that is just extraordinary. It has been a remarkable year.”

As many as 125 seniors will graduate with Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) diplomas from Cambridge University, practically guaranteeing them full scholarships through Florida’s Bright Futures program. Thirty-three will graduate with their associate degree from Palm Beach State College.

This year’s senior AICE and PBSC graduates far exceed those for previous senior classes, said Sharina Gilbert, assistant principal for the 12th grade.

“They had to overcome a lot of challenges,” Gibert said. “They had to be really dedicated to graduate on time.”

This year’s graduation ceremony will be held Thursday, May 23 at 1 p.m. in the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds on Southern Blvd. Doors open at noon and close at 12:50 p.m.

Leading the way for the Hawks will be valedictorian Kyla Cartwright and salutatorian Caitlyn Tripician, both 18 and bound for the University of Florida.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our valedictorian and salutatorian,” said Hatcher, who oversees some 2,300-plus students at the school. “I remember Caitlyn from my time [as principal] of Western Pines Middle School. Both are remarkable individuals.”

Cartwright spent her early years in Plantation, Florida. She began her studies at Seminole Ridge when she moved to the western communities in 2020 with her parents, Christopher and Tammy Cartwright, and younger sister Maya.

Coming out of middle school, Cartwright said she knew she had good grades but was surprised how good — and what that might mean in terms of academic honors. “I realized that I needed to get going to make sure my grades stay that way,” she said.

However, it was only in the last few months that she was told it was likely she would be valedictorian with her 5.5833 grade point average.

Aside from excellent academics, Cartwright is a member of the Future Educators of America, the National Honor Society, volunteers as a healthcare assistant at Bethesda Hospital, tutors other students in math, and is captain of the speech and debate team. In fact, Cartwright will be practically walking off the stage and onto a plane to compete in the National Catholic Forensic League Speech & Debate Grand Nationals in Chicago, set for May 25-26.

Cartwright said she prefers the speech portion of the competition because there’s acting involved, and it gives her the chance to create her own storylines while learning about issues from multiple perspectives.

Though her first choice was Duke University, Cartwright said she’s happy to be heading to Gainesville, where she plans to study in the neuroscience field with an eye toward earning a medical degree and becoming a psychiatrist.

When not busy with school-related pursuits, Cartwright enjoys the beach, writing and reading. She said her two favorite books are the young-adult classic The Little Prince and Scythe, a science-fiction work about the dark side of immortality.

Tripician was born in Boca Raton but has spent almost all her life in the Acreage/Loxahatchee area with her mother Celeste, father Jan and little brother Tyler.

“It’s cool to be in a community so long and to see it grow and develop,” Tripician said. “It’s a nice community.”

Tripician said she has always loved statistics and seeing how the data fits together in real-world applications. That’s why she wants to eventually use her skills in the area of environmental science.

“I want to do something that helps the world,” she said.

It’s not all numbers and spreadsheets, though, for Tripician. She has a creative side as well, eagerly sharing about a movie tease she created for a kidnapping mystery for one of her classes.

Once Tripician graduates from Seminole Ridge with a 5.5087 GPA, she’ll soon have her associate degree from Palm Beach State College, having completed her college prerequisites. Then she’ll be off to Gainesville, too.

“I’ve always thought UF was the best school in Florida, especially for my major,” she said.

Outside of the classroom, Tripician works 20 hours a week in the Royal Palm Beach branch of the Palm Beach County Library System. She enjoys crocheting, playing video games and having dinner with her family.