Students walk at summer graduation

Students from Hillsborough, as well as from other schools across the county, received their diplomas on Thursday at this year’s summer graduation. Eight graduates attended the ceremony, although 21 students in total earned their diplomas over summer break.

The ceremony may have gone without the Pomp and Circumstance of the school’s graduation in May, but students were glad to walk and receive their diplomas nonetheless.

“It means everything because I worked really hard to get where I’m at right now,” Laura Peraza said. “I’m going to do two years in community college and then after that, I’ll go to USF and get a degree.”

After the ceremony, graduates headed to classrooms based on their school to officially receive their diplomas. Guidance Counselor Shawnree Miller and Principal Gary Brady gave out congratulatory hugs along with each diploma. “Sorry if I was a pain to you guys,” Brady joked, referencing his work to increase the graduation rate.

The group then lined up for a picture together, diplomas in hand. Brady made sure to give each graduate a hug before they left. “I feel so happy for them, they worked really hard,” Brady said. “Sometimes they’re paying for mistakes they made in ninth grade or 10th grade, but the bottom line is that, 20 years from now, that diploma is the exact same.”

Families posed for pictures as the graduates filed out of the room. Carlos Menzies stopped to snap a few selfies with his family. For Menzies, his diploma means new opportunities. “About time,” he said of graduating. “It’ll be easier to find a job. I plan to go to college but not for a while.”

Janisha Smith also has plans for after graduation. “My plans are to start at HCC. I plan to do business and financial; I want to become an accountant,” Smith said. “After this long journey, I need a break so I’ll start in January.”