Lely High School Principal Ken Fairbanks and School Board Vice Chairwoman Julie Sprague may have passed out the diplomas, but the 333 Lely graduates were the feature at ceremonies held at Alico Arena in Estero on Friday.
Marco Islanders aced the top two academic honors of the Lely Class of 2010.
Stephanie Abbott was named valedictorian, while Doug Knox earned salutatorian honors.
Knox spoke at graduation. Here are his remarks.
“It is with great pleasure, and a little relief, that I stand before you tonight. As I look out at this sea of faces, I see a class that has experienced so much together. This class of 2010 will be remembered for academic, athletic, artistic, and personal achievement.
“As inquisitive freshmen, we searched to find our niche in our new home. Our options ran the gamut, offering a wide horizon of people, of so many nationalities, all represented by the flags flying in Nations’ Square. We were also introduced to the courtyard hype of ‘Freshman Friday’ and the classic flipped back pack in the courtyard, which will continue with next year’s freshmen.
“We ultimately discovered our comfort zone and by the end of our freshmen year we were on our way. Four years ago thoughts of graduation had not yet begun to percolate.
“Percolating, however, inside the gym walls of Lely, were both the cheers and chants of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and finally seniors: L-E-L-Y let’S go, Lely High! This same gym floor has been victim to the pounding of lightening fast basketball stars, striving for one more perfect shot. The cheers and the games were not restricted to indoors, but also spilled outside. We all cherish the craziness of Spirit Week and Powderpuff Football — the girls actually running and practicing almost as hard as the varsity before the Coconut Bowl. The senior boys’ cheerleaders are now starring on Facebook! We all carry with us the glory of bringing home the coconut.
“The soccer, golf, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, track and field, cross country, swimming and diving, baseball, softball, football, and wrestling teams all played their hearts out for the name on the back of their jersey — Lely.
“We can never forget the classes. After all, academics are what we are told to remember! And we will remember: the essays written, over and over, for FCAT; the math and science practiced, over and over, for FCAT. When these tests were finally passed, we began remembering again, only this time it was vocabulary and math for SAT and ACT. “Academics also spilled over into extracurricular activities: A-Team, Mu Alpha Theta, Key Cub, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Poetry Club, Book Club, Laureate, Chemistry Club, and so many more.
“All we had to do was open our eyes, look around us, and we could easily find our niche. Our niche at our Lely home has carried us to this evening, but now we must leave our comfort zone and again begin the journey to find another.
“We all sit here looking forward to the events to come, however now is also a time for reflection on this monumental event in our lives. We sit here, not only because of our hard work, but because of the knowledge, dedication, and encouragement from all the teachers and staff. I would personally like to thank Mrs. (Sara) Mulder for her exceptional teaching and coaching. And Mr. (Ken) Fairbanks (principal), the class of 2010 would like to thank you for being such a smashing principal who truly chooses wisely for his students. Ultimately, our parents and supporters are to be thanked, for they worked, maybe harder than we did.
“In all honesty, we are not saddened by our graduation, but rather excited for the opportunities that lie ahead. Tonight, the class of 2010 will diverge and each graduate will take his or her own path in life. Some will enter the work force, while others will simply continue on their educational path. Lely Trojans will grace not only Florida colleges and universities, but also colleges and universities in the East, West, and North.
“I have no doubt that each and every one of us will make valuable contributions to our ever-changing society. Whatever our paths may be, we will never stop learning, we will never stop succeeding, and we will never stop being loyal Lely Trojans.”
Abbott chose to write about her life experiences exclusively for the Marco Eagle.
Here are her offerings.
“My parents and four siblings moved to Marco Island from Jamaica when I was three years old. All five of us graduated from Lely High School. I am valedictorian of my senior class, president of Lely High School’s National Honor Society, captain of the Lely color guard, captain of a Naples Relay for Life team, co-captain of a Marco Relay for Life Team, member of various clubs/groups, spend many weekends performing and competing with the band (guard), as well as dancing at Island Dance Academy. I took all honors and AP classes, and spent countless hours completing homework and studying. All the while I managed to maintain a 4.0 un-weighted GPA. None of these tasks come with ease, but I enjoy everything I do and strive to become more active in every aspect of my life.
“Since I was four years old, dance has been my passion. Each week I dance four to five times (at least seven hours) a week at Island Dance Academy.
“I plan to attend the University of Florida, earn an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering, attend medical school, and become a pediatrician.
“The backbone of my success has been my parents. For as long as I can remember they have been encouraging me to be active in school, keep my grades up, and still have fun. Growing up in a supportive family has helped me to reach beyond my imagined limits.
“Lely High School is truly a great school. Attending it was an unforgettable experience. I was taught the importance of diversity, extracurricular activities, and most importantly education. I am excited to start a new adventure at the University of Florida, but will never forget my Marco Island home and all the people that helped me to learn and grow.”
Go online for a gallery of photos at marconews.com.