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‘Leave your mark,’ Palmetto grads

By ANGELINE TAYLOR – ataylor@bradenton.com

PALMETTO — Graduating senior Ben Durrance challenged Palmetto High School’s Class of 2011 during Saturday afternoon’s commencement.

“Go out there and leave your mark on the world,” the 17-year-old said. “Let everyone in here hear your name. Show everyone that being a member of the Class of 2011 at Palmetto High School means something. Be a doctor, a lawyer, CEO, manager — whatever it is that you do, whatever your calling may be. Be the best that there is in your field.”

Durrance, who plans to attend the University of South Florida in August, offered advice through the parable of the pencil maker.

The pencil maker, he said, told his pencil five things about its life:

Everything you do will leave a mark.

Mistakes can be corrected.

What’s most important is what’s inside.

In life, you will undergo painful sharpening that will make you a better pencil.

And, to be the best pencil that you can be, you have to allow yourself to be guided by the hand that holds you.

Durrance’s recollection of the popular parable earned applause from the 319 students who graduated from Palmetto High.

The Manatee County Convention and Civic Center was packed with parents, friends and loved ones, with plenty of congratulatory balloons and flowers in tow. And each time there was a quiet moment, horns, whistles and screams for that special loved one rang out.

Shout outs of: “Adrianna, we love you,” “Jamie!” and “Ryan!” could be heard above the students’ heads. But it was Huda Saleh who reminded her fellow graduates that their graduation was a family affair. Her commencement speech offered warm appreciation and love to classmates and family members. She recalled times in class when one of her teachers would play Michael Jackson music and the two would attempt the Moonwalk. But it was the lessons that she learned that Saleh wanted her classmates to remember most.

“Be whoever you want to be. Live with no regrets and never look back,” Saleh said in her commencement speech, recalling lessons she learned from her sister.

Principal Willie Clark said, “I trust the things you’ve learned while tackling your school goals will help as you continue along the path of success.”

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