AVON PARK-Elizabeth Leon and Alma Lezama-Perez have been friends since they were in diapers.
Their graduation Saturday from Lake Placid High School won't change that, because both are headed for East Lansing. If their Michigan State University plans work out, Elizabeth will become a soccer trainer; Alma will be a pre-law major.
The Green Dragon Class of 2013 is headed to the four corners of America.
Bryan Lopez will be at University of West Florida in Pensacola, where he'll also major in athletic training.
"I'd like to work for the Colts," Lopez said. He's been a Peyton Manning fan at least since the 2006 Super Bowl.
It wasn't a coincidence to find Nicole Tiner and Taylor Test side by side. Some students have been lining up alphabetically since grade school. Nicole wants to attend Valencia College in Orlando and study sonography so she can become an ultrasound tech. Taylor will enroll in Ursuline, a women's college in Pepper Pike, Ohio. If her plans work out, she'll come back a veterinarian.
Samantha Phyers, who delivered one of the two student addresses and graduated summa cum laude, will be at Lipscomb University next semester, a private Christian school in Nashville, where she'll study fashion and eventually become a buyer.
Although many students claim they just want to get as far away from their home towns as possible, Superintendent Wally Cox said he expects to seem them back 10 or 20 years from now as the core of Highlands County's new leadership.
Cox also appreciated what parents were feeling:"When my two graduated, I was thrilled, but I was also relieved that we made it."
As for the graduates, he said, "I hope you achieve your hopes and dreams."
Then he handed Bailey Awards to Tyler Brice Akins and Itzel Guadalupe Martinez. Atkins also won the school board citizenship award from Bill Brantley, along with Alexandria Paige Coyne. Both graduated summa cum laude.
"Through the power of our minds, we can help ourselves," Eric Yakes quoted in the class president's speech.
"A common thread, a common bond, it connected us," Phypers said. "New hopes, new dreams for the future."
"Are you ready?" Cindy Rivers asked the soon-to-be graduates as Principal Toni Stivender moved to the other end of the stage to hand out the diplomas.
Moms and dad, grab your tissues, because your babies have become memories.