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Grads walk across stage 25 years later

10:33 PM, May 31, 2012   |    comments
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MACCLENNY, Fla. - Patsy Harris was so sad and disappointed on the night her graduation ceremony was rained out in 1987 that she wanted a redo, and she got it.

Harris got the idea in 2008 when her son graduated in Dade County. So she asked her former teacher Kelly Norman if she could help organize a graduation ceremony for the class. Norman did so with the help of Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson.

"We're thrilled to be able to do this," said Raulerson.  "Someone had the brainstorm to do this and I said absolutely."

So on Thursday evening at 7pm all the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony took place on the Baker County High football field for some 70 1987 grads able to attend out of a class of 160.

A weather disaster 25 years ago put a quick end to their graduation on the very same football field.

"The bottom just fell out," said Harris. "So much water, storming, everyone  trying to get out of the rain. It was awful, a very, very, sad moment."

James Curry remembers the night well.

"A torrential downpour. I was standing under the bleachers with my grandmother in about four inches of water and she was shivering, obviously disappointed."

Harris believed the class deserved a graduation, "we went to school, we deserved it."

Norman, this year's Baker County Teacher of the Year, was more than willing to help.

"It is the thing you remember, it's a right  of passage, so we wanted to give some closure to these guys."

So with children of the classmates and even grandchildren looking on, they got to cross the stage, and have their name called. They were congratulated by the school superintendent at the time, Tim Stallings,  and their former high school principal Danny Boutwell.

"I thought nobody would come and it would be corny when I first heard about it," said Meg Beaty Cannon, who spoke at the ceremony. "Kelly pulled out all the stops and it was fantastic, I literally felt 18 again and it was wonderful. We gave new meaning to the saying "Better Late than Never".

Anita Givens Jefferson could hardly control her excitement.

"So many emotions going through me right now. Just a long time in the making. I remember the day like they told the story. I am so grateful people cared about  us to make this happen.  I am just so overwhelmed."

Some of the classmates will be overwhelmed the very next night on the same football field.  They will see their children graduate at part of the Baker County High Class of 2012.



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