PLANT CITY Durant High Principal Pam Bowden praised the school's 17th graduating class for its hard work and spirit.
Bowden told the school's 533 graduates at the June 3 commencement that they accomplished a lot in four years.
"You have embraced Cougar pride," Bowden said. "Seniors you have only begun to pursue you dreams."
Salutatorian Natalie Raschke spoke of how decisions made in life - big and small - impact others. She told her classmates to be mindful of others and challenged them to dream big.
"Don't wait around for you life to begin ... be your own hero," she said.
Valedictorian Jacob Bernier said his classmates should strive for tolerance of others and seek to be a friend to all.
Above all, "be proud of who you are, who you were and who you are going to be," he said.
After the graduation ceremonies, smiling graduates accepted congratulations from friends and family and posed for photos.
Graduate Anna Kuebler, who plans to study politics at UMass Amherst, said she was happy to put her high school days behind her. She said the hardest part of her high school studies was balancing her course load, particular her advanced placement classes.
"I feel great. I'm glad it's over," Kuebler said.