Tom Lemons, Legal Correspondent
Recorded on June 1, 2019
Tom Lemons: Here at Springstead High School in Spring Hill, Florida, where it’s grad night here for hundreds of students just like those across the nation who are preparing to make decisions that could affect their entire life. Friends and family filled the bleachers to show their support for hundreds of students that accomplished the first of what is hoped are many lifetime achievements that will guide them for years to come. And while the colors flew high and patriots pledged their allegiance, proud parents anxiously waited to hear their son or daughter’s name to be called and watched them cross the stage in a fleeting moment of glory that will only happen once in a lifetime.
Speaker 2: Honors, Riley Lemons.
Speaker 3: I have no words for you. I want to do it all over again.
Speaker 4: Amazing. Great. I’m so happy, so proud of her.
Speaker 5: Super excited for her future and what she’s going to do in years to come. Yeah. You got me.
Danielle Murphy: And because of you and because of all these kids here, that I taught, that I affected, I have found my passion because of you. So proud. I grew up in this county since I was five years old. And I went to this school and next year will be my 10 year reunion and I never had confidence in myself. I never believed in myself and I always doubted myself. It’s because I get to see this and I know that I influenced these kids.
Tom Lemons: Not far from the festivities at Springstead, seniors were saying their last goodbyes to fellow students and staff at Central High School like Rachel Ross who says her choice in higher education is in the literal sense.
Rachel Ross: I do plan on going into the Navy and I would like to be a pilot. I want to be a fighter pilot who lands on the decks of aircraft carriers.
Tom Lemons: Rachel’s father says his daughter’s extreme career path is her own choice and he stands behind her all the way.
Dwayne Ross: Yeah, I’ve been accused of some of her fellow students’ parents of controlling her and there was no control. There was guidance. We had long talks and if she said she didn’t want to do something, we’d discuss it and if her argument was valid, she didn’t do it. But it’s been her push since she started everything.
Rachel Ross: He found The Citadel and at first I didn’t want to do anything with it and walking around the college, it, in a way felt like what home could be.
Dwayne Ross: It’s a military college. It is a high-intensity college, five days a week. Mandatory going to church or taking an ethics class. It’s a college that I was very proud of her to pick.
Rachel Ross: He’s a hard head sometimes but I don’t know if I would be necessary where I am today without him. He’s always been there for me. He’s always given me the support that I need that I sometimes may not realize that I need as well. So I very, very much appreciate him.
Dwayne Ross: We’ve learned to accept, adapt and overcome. I will say this, in the last three years, her and I have been around like best friends. I guess we could use the tip in saying words can’t describe how proud I am.
Speaker 14: (singing)
Back at Springstead, a surprise proposal caught fellow graduates off guard and added another stream of tears to the already heartwarming celebration.
Speaker 9: I’m going to PHSC to get my AA or finish my AA and then transfer to a university.
Chantal Pinero: Casually walking by. Casually graduating.
Tom Lemons: Tell me how you feel about graduating today.
Chantal Pinero: I feel amazing. Super excited.
Tom Lemons: What’s your name?
Chantal Pinero: Chanta Pinero
Tom Lemons: Congratulations. What are you going to do [inaudible 00:04:46].
Chantal Pinero: I’m going to do PHSC and study criminology.
Tom Lemons: Good luck with everything.
Chantal Pinero: Thank you.
Speaker 11: (singing)
Speaker 12: But here we stand at the summit taking a moment to reflect on the view before us. That view is the sum of all we’ve achieved in our time together as a class.
Speaker 13: Wherever this next chapter of life takes you, never forget the power you have. Always remember that we are equals and we soar. Thank you.
Tom Lemons: Reporting from Hernando County, I’m Tom Lemons.