By Rachel Christian
Excitement hung in the air as hundreds of St. Cloud High School seniors filed into the courtyard Friday afternoon.
It was in celebration of Decision Day, an event hosted at high schools across the country to recognize students heading off to college, trade school or enlisting in the military after graduation.
Principal Nate Fancher said he is proud of his students, but also reminded
them that the end of high school is only the beginning.
“I tell my students all the time that graduating high school is not the goal,” Fancher said. “In 2018, that diploma has to be a ticket into something else.”
Seventy percent, or 411 St. Cloud High School students, plan to attend a college, trade school or enlist in the military, according to the school’s guidance counselor department.
The class of 2018 saw another major accomplishment at St. Cloud this year. More than $8 million in scholarships were awarded to students, up from $6 million in 2017.
Senior Lialanis Rivera is heading to University of Miami in the fall. She chatted with her three friends Friday after the group of teens collected their free cupcakes, sodas and T-shirts from volunteering faculty members.
Rivera said attending Decision Day was a great way to get recognized by her peers and teachers.
“I think it’s really cool because we’ve worked so hard this whole year,” she said. “People have been writing essays, applying to multiple schools, and to finally be able to show off which school you’ve chosen and have a little party, I think it’s really cool.”
Skyler Franz was accepted into West Point this year. Franz, a four-year ROTC student, said the military academy was the only school he applied for. He was planning to enlist if he didn’t get in.
“My mom was a little nervous,” said Franz, who is the first member of his immediate family to join the military.
The St. Cloud senior said he loves the idea of Decision Day, and was happy teachers and staff took the time to host the event.
“The students all tried and put forth their best efforts, and everyone has achieved what they’ve wanted in their own ways,” he said. “It’s great to be able to celebrate that.”
National College Decision Day is usually held May 1. It’s an adaptation of former first lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, according to Florida College Access Network.
Both initiatives are inspired by the NCAA’s National Signing Day, which celebrates students who have received athletic scholarships.