The Island School Class of 2012 graduated Thursday morning at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium in a 75-minute ceremony punctuated several times by enthusiastic applause.
Laughter and celebratory whoops came regularly from the nearly 180 in attendance during a musical program capped by a 15-minute slide show recapping the Island School year.
The six graduates - Flynn Stewart, Ashley Miller, Rowyn Shorthuse, Ava Reecher, Katelyn Belllamy and Brandon Darna - returned the outpouring of affection with smiles and gifts for teachers Ann-Margaret Edwards, Karen Kelley and Principal Rosa Ramos.
The Island School Class of 2012, from left: Flynn Stewart, Ashley Miller, Rowyn Shorthuse, Ava Reecher, Katelyn Belllamy and Brandon Darna.
It was a bittersweet day for Ramos, who has resigned effective June 29 to return to her native Puerto Rico to help care for her ailing mother. She said she plans to open a preschool in Puerto Rico.
"These children started at the Island School the same year I started six years ago," Ramos said. "They're like my babies. It's a special relationship to me."
Island School Board Chairwoman Margo Freeman said the search for Ramos' successor has attracted interest from several qualified educators and she believes a hire will be made soon.
What: Island School year begins
When: Aug. 8
Where: Island School Elementary, 135 First St. West, Boca Grande
Why: Highly rated instruction
Contact: (941) 964-8016
"We have some really good prospects," Freeman said. "We're getting close."
Report cards were distributed after the event and then it was on to the Gasparilla Inn & Club for the annual graduation lunch and later to the Boca Pay Pass Club for a pool party.
Three of the graduates - Miller, Reecher and Bellamy - plan to attend the Student Leadership Academy of Venice. Darna said he's going to L.A. Ainger Middle School in Rotonda West, Stewart is off to Charlotte Academy in Port Charlotte and Shortuse will be home-schooled.