With graduation upon us, the Sarasota Observer asks six high school seniors to take a look back at their time in school and share a sneak peek into their futures.
SARASOTA MILITARY ACADEMY
Mitchell Burchett, 18
University of Alabama
Do you know what you want to study? Yes, mechanical engineering
Why? I like building stuff with my dad. We have been building and constructing different things together since I was about 5 or 6.
Extracurricular activities: Lacrosse, soccer, ROTC and Eagle Scouts since 2012
Favorite quote: “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one,” Bruce Lee
Hidden talent: Woodworking is something I do at school and at home. I recently built a canoe with my dad.
Favorite high school moment: My lacrosse team’s bus rides. My best friend, Bryson Kelly, has played lacrosse with me for all four years and we always ride together.
What will you miss most about SMA? I’ve had a great time here. I’ve made some great friends who I’ll miss for certain.
Any advice for incoming seniors? Do the work.
Any worries about college? I’m far too laidback to worry.
RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL
Sami Araboghli, 17
Marine Corps Reserve
How are you feeling about graduation? I can’t wait.
Favorite quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” J.F.K.
Why that quote? This country can do so much for all of us, but we have to contribute back, and that’s part of why I joined the Marine Corps.
Hidden talent: I play trombone. I’ve played it for six years.
Extracurricular activities: JROTC, Kiltie Band, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honors Technical Society, Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society and Teen Court Sarasota
Favorite high school moment: I think when the Kiltie Band went to New York City in March. The first thing we did was go to the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza; just looking at the city and realizing that my school brought me here and how much we can get accomplished.
Any advice for incoming seniors? Get involved. Community service is a big one.
Favorite movie: “Argo”
Must read: “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho
Have you received any advice for the Marine Corps? Make sure my parents don’t send me any candy because they’ll make you eat it all in front of everyone.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? As an officer in the Marine Corps. I want to go into politics one day.
SARASOTA HIGH SCHOOL
Rachel Mead, 18
University of Florida
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully working in a research lab for animals and helping animals any way I can.
Extracurricular activities: Cheerleading, La Sertoa, student government, National Honors Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and girls heavy weightlifting
Most embarrassing high school moment? I went on a trip to NASA in junior year for the MaST program, and we went on the spaceship simulation and I crashed the whole system. It’s definitely one of my most memorable moments. I haven’t lived it down yet.
Any advice for incoming seniors? Stay organized … and definitely don’t drive behind teachers when they are running late.
What will you miss most about SHS? The teachers. They really are on top of it and are there for the students.
How do you spend your free time? I spend a lot of my time volunteering at animal shelters. I am going to major in animal sciences and minor in innovation.
Any hidden talents? For a year I learned how to play the piano, but I didn’t like reading sheet music so I started playing by ear. I mostly play Adele.
Have you received any weird advice for college? I can’t really think of anything appropriate.
How are you going to spend your summer? Looking for a job!
BOOKER HIGH SCHOOL
Peter Diffenderfer, 18
University of South Florida, Tampa
Favorite quote: “Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand,” Kurt Vonnegut
Why that quote? I don’t know. It makes me laugh.
Favorite high school memory? When I was dragged into leading the tango at this year’s homecoming.
Any hidden talent? I know how to tango. I’ve been ballroom dancing for eight years.
What do you do in your downtime? I am a petrol-head. I have a 1993 white Mercedes 190E that I work on. It looks like an old man’s car, but it drives like a Ferrari.
So, you’re in the VPA program? Yes, and the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for engineering. I don’t think you’re supposed to be in both, but somehow I managed to do it.
Any advice for incoming seniors? Not really.
Most embarrassing high school moment? There are so many. I guess all the times I’ve fallen with my tray of lunch.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Working for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) or in Scotland where I have family.
Extracurricular activities: National Honors Society, Academic Olympics, soccer, cross-country and guitar
Must read: “Lord of the Rings Return of the King” by J.R. Tolkien
CARDINAL MOONEY CATHOLIC
Matthew Hueston, 18
University of Florida
Do you know what you want to study? I’m thinking of going into either engineering or business.
Extracurricular activities: Football, basketball and National Honors Society
What do you like about football and basketball? I like football because I’ve played it since I was little. As for basketball, I am tall, (6 feet, 6 inches) and I thought it would be fun. They have both taught me a lot about teamwork; the camaraderie is great to be a part of.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully maybe running a business or my own company … That would be great, to be your own boss.
Any advice for incoming seniors? It comes quick so don’t be looking ahead to the future so much, just live in the moment.
Favorite high school moment:
Definitely winning three state district championships for basketball in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Favorite food: Pizza with spinach and bacon. I like to think the spinach helps makes it healthier.
Whom, alive or dead, would you want to have dinner with? John Rockefeller. That would be cool because he would be an interesting guy to talk to with his history in business.
What will you miss about Cardinal Mooney?
The small-school atmosphere; everyone knows everyone.
PINE VIEW SCHOOL FOR THE GIFTED
Kimberly Menezes, 18
University of Florida
Major: Biochemistry and minoring in leadership
Favorite high school memory? It’s the most recent one — high school senior prom. It was really fun and cool to see all of my friends come together. I’ve been there since I was in second grade, so it was great seeing everyone I’ve grown up with together. It’s not just prom, though, it’s the culmination of the events for the seniors this past week.
What will you miss most about Pine View? The sense of family; just growing up with everyone and knowing all the faculty and everybody in your grade. That’s why I picked UF, because I wanted a new experience.
Extracurricular activities: Community Youth Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs Lee Wetherington Club, founded the Girl Up Club at Pine View, flute for seven years, National Merritt finalist, National Honors Society and dance for five years
First thing you’ll do after graduating? Go to the beach and then go to grad parties.
Favorite food? Frozen cheese pizza … frozen pizza is going to be the death of me. I love it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully almost done with school and starting to work for a practice as a physician.
Favorite book? The Harry Potter series and John Grisham books
Any advice for incoming seniors? Don’t let your senior years go by so fast; enjoy yourself.
How are you feeling about graduating and going to college? I’m excited. Pine View has prepared me very well, and I’m very ready to see all the opportunities there are in college ’cause there are a million clubs and I have to join them all.
Contact Harriet Sokmensuer at [email protected]