First Class: Oasis Charter High School graduates its first senior class
As another school year comes to an end, many seniors will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas this weekend and go on to college to further their studies in various career fields.
This weekend holds a special meaning for a certain graduation class from Oasis High School. This year, the first graduating class of 27 students from Oasis High School will walk the stage wearing their blue cap and gown at Tarpon Point Marina on Sunday.
Principal Chris Terrill said the majority of the seniors who are graduating this weekend were a part of the Freshman Academy that was located at Oasis Middle School. He said the high school was built because the parents and students wanted to stay in the city-run school system beyond middle school.
“They were instrumental” in the opening of the high school, Terrill said.
Oasis High School opened in 2009 after the Freshman Academy started in 2007.
Madelyn Orth, who earned a 4.36 grade point average, was one of the original students of Oasis High School. The senior said she was one of 30 students who were mixed in with the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
Before transferring to the University of Southern Florida she will attend Edison State College and study geological engineering.
Terrill said although the senior class sacrificed the big high school experience when they were at the middle school, they had the opportunity to develop leadership skills and establish the variety of clubs now offered.
Orth took on a lot of leadership roles her freshman year because she wanted to make a difference for the high school students by planning various activities for the students and starting new clubs.
“It bonded me closer to the school,” she said about her role, adding that she also experienced a lot of behind the scenes of how the school operates.
“They don’t hold us back,” Orth said about the administrators and teachers at the charter school. “They are all for supporting us.”
Senior Seth Littlestone, who earned a 3.4 grade point average and will be attending Stetson University said Oasis High is unique because his class started the traditions for the school.
“Not all schools can start a tradition,” he said.
Senior Rachel Lucia enrolled at Oasis High School after being home schooled for many years. She spent two years in China after spending two and a half years on a boat in the Caribbean while keeping up on her studies.
Although being home schooled taught her how to be self motivated, she said it was nice to be around teenagers again.
Lucia said she started the Cambridge AICE program once she enrolled her junior year, which she believes helped her prepare for college.
“It challenges you to think and you have to know all your facts,” she said. “You can’t memorize, you have to understand it. It is mentally stimulating.”
Lucia has a 4.76 grade point average and will attend the University of Florida to study pre-veterinary medicine. She had a 4.0 unweighted grade point average while attending Oasis High School.
Terrill promised his students their freshman year that he would have a shark made that displayed all 27 graduate names. He kept his promise. The shark will be displayed during graduation and later be put in a permanent place at the school.
“It is pretty amazing,” Lucia said about being the first graduating class. “We are the start of it. We are setting the bar and starting a tradition.”
Orth agreed in saying that she hopes they set the bar for the underclassman because she wants them to surpass them.
“I hope we stimulate some school spirit,” she said.
Littlestone said it’s pretty cool to be the first graduating class because it is something different and unique.
Terrill said the seniors are a close group and they get along very well. He said the nice thing with a small campus is the students can form a deep level friendship because they have classes with each other all day long.
The senior students agreed with Terrill that forming friendships is a memory that they will take away from their high school years.
Next year the graduating class for Oasis High School will have 65 students and the incoming freshman class will have 220 students.
The School District of Lee County also has a milestone graduating class in the Cape.
The original Gators opened Island Coast High School when the school was established in 2007. This year marks the first graduating class that went through all four years at Island Coast High School.
Senior Anna Prorok, who will graduate today at the Lee Civic Center, is one of 368 original Gators at Island Coast High School.
“It has been amazing,” she said because they have all grown up together. “Freshman year will probably be the best year of all four.”
Before moving into the new building, Prorok and her fellow freshman classmates were in portables behind High Tech North.
Throughout her high school career, Prorok was involved in many clubs and activities, which helped develop her leadership skills. She said she had the opportunity to get to know people around the school and have more of an impact on the things that went on with her involvement.
With a 4.94 grade point average, she will attend Florida State University in the fall to study pediatric dentistry.
“I have wanted to do that since I was little,” she said. “Eventually I want to work overseas in rural areas and do some work over there with Doctors Without Borders or the Peace Corps.”
Prorok will give the senior speech at graduation, which she admitted she was a little nervous about. The speech she plans on giving will reflect on the memories of all four years and the future.
“It is very bitter sweet,” she said about graduating due to the endless memories of high school. “It is exciting to move on, but at the same time I am going to miss here and my family and friends.”
The first graduating class at Ida Baker High School was in 2006 with 86 seniors. The school first opened at the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year with 500 ninth grade students at their portable campus. On Sunday, 395 seniors will graduate at the Lee Civic Center. The top student at Ida Baker High School is Kaitlyn Rieser with a 5.03 grade point average.
Mariner High School opened in 1987 and had 96 seniors graduate its first year. On Saturday, 296 seniors will graduate at Harborside Event Center. The top student at Mariner High School is Veronica Valencia with a 5.15 grade point average. Carolina Lerma will also provide a speech during graduation.
The oldest high school in Cape Coral opened in 1980 with 95 seniors graduating from Cape Coral High School. This year, 344 seniors will graduate at Harborside Event Center on Sunday. The two top non-IB students this year are Krystle Fred with a 4.94 grade point average and Jessica Highfill with a 4.91 grade point average. The top two IB students are Zohair Zaidi with a 5.58 grade point average and Desiree Goenaga with a 5.4 grade point average.