Time they’ll never get back … Part II: ‘Senior ‘Switch’ continues, and some explain what it’s like to finish this untraditional year

May 8, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY OLIVIA CAMERON – As high school course come to a close, our local high school seniors continue to recap their experience, or lack of, ending their education online.

However, these local seniors see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Lemon Bay senior Anabelle Coleman describes finishing her diploma online as a way to look forward to her future. The high school graduate recalls her online classes were an easy transition along with her on-the-job-training program to earn practical arts credit. When she wasn’t attending classes, Anabelle bussed at The Temptation. With a charter captain father, Anabelle enjoys her island time and family visits.

Now, she looks forward to joining the Coast Guard.

“My mom was a part of the Air Force, so she’s helped me prepare,” said Anabelle. She also plans to attend school to be a dental hygienist in her future.

Annabelle Coleman

Seniors like Darian Torres, son of Kathryn Torres from Italiano Insurance, describes how it feels to miss out on important events. “I was looking forward to walking across the stage at graduation,” said Darian. “And it’s sad not to be able to say goodbye to your teachers in person.”

Despite finding online courses to be an easy transition, the Port Charlotte High graduate explained students finishing classes online don’t have the same opportunities to make up certain scores. Nonetheless, he is glad to be able to reach out to teachers and friends through our advanced technology.

Darian Torres

In the fall, Darian plans to attend state college while working with his father to save up for the future.

Noah Pirro, graduating from Lemon Bay, believes there was no other way around the pandemic. “I don’t think this is what everyone wanted, but there’s not much we could do about it,” said Noah. He’s missed senior events and being in a classroom setting with friends but knows student safety is important during the virus outbreak.

As a multi-year soccer and tennis player, he spent almost two years of his spare time working at The Temptation. Noah also reminisces on past family trips to the island.

In the Fall, Noah will peruse science and business at Rollins College in Winter Park on a presidential scholarship.

Noah Pirro

Lemon Bay graduate Andrew Hedderman also looks forward to a bright future, even with the way his last year of high school has gone. “I was so excited for the end of year activities and this situation has been kind of disappointing, but hopefully we will make them work in some other way,” said Andrew.

Andrew Heddermann

Of all things, he misses interacting with his teachers the most. “They are so dedicated to helping us learn and I never realized it until the switch to a completely different way of learning.” He appreciated his teachers accommodating with student needs during the academic transition.

When not in class, Andrew also enjoyed working as a Beach Club attendant at the Gasparilla Inn. In the fall, he plans to peruse civil engineering at Florida State University, despite not knowing what universities have planned for fall classes.

Harley Rusher

Harley Rusher, Lemon Bay graduate and fellow Beach Club attendant, found the end to senior year to be heartbreaking. “Although it has been less challenging, I miss my teachers and my friends, and it’s a sad way to end, especially considering we had our last day without knowing it,” said Harley. “COVID-19 also cut my senior season of Track & Field short.”

However, he looks forward to his future studies of political science and international relations at the University of Florida.

The latest announcement from UF states the commencement of fall semester has been pushed back from August 18 to August 25.

Brecken Stinnett

However, senior Brecken Stinnett has enjoyed his last year online at Florida Virtual School. Brecken, son of Scarpa’s Coastal restaurant owners, prefers reeling in the tarpon during his free time.

“This is my first year taking classes online and it’s been great. I’ve been able to get my work done and then get on the water and fish,” he said.

With all of his free time spent on the water, Brecken plans to become a captain in Boca Grande.

See next week’s Boca Beacon for more 2020 graduate stories.