High school graduations kick off Thursday night

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 10:58 p.m.

Daniel White, a senior at the Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School, walked into the art department on Wednesday — only this time he was wearing a visitor's badge.


Alachua County graduations

Professional Academies Magnet at Loften: 7 p.m. Thursday, Phillips Center
Newberry High School: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, O'Connell Center
Buchholz High School: 7 p.m. Friday, O'Connell Center
Gainesville High School: 10 a.m. Saturday, O'Connell Center
Hawthorne High School: 10 a.m. Saturday, Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Eastside High School: 2 p.m. Saturday, O'Connell Center
Santa Fe High School: 6 p.m. Saturday, O'Connell Center

"It's very odd and liberating at the same time," White said.

White will be one of more than 1,200 Alachua County students graduating during four days of commencement ceremonies beginning tonight.

Due to the number of students graduating and the limited availability of space, graduation ceremonies for Alachua County's public high schools are held at the Phillips Center or the O'Connell Center.

Although he graduates today and finished school last week, White was back at Loften putting the finishing touches on an art project for an end-of-the-year show — thus the visitor's badge. He worked mounting projects he created in Adobe Illustrator as preparation.

"I wanted to have time to set up for the show," he said. "Nothing's worse than scrambling."

White spent his entire high school career at Loften, so turning in his Academy of Design and Technology shirts last week was bittersweet.

He celebrated by wearing Hawaiian shirts until the end of the week, White said.

"Those are my vacation shirts," he said.

For much of the year, White said, he battled senioritis as the days counted down.

"It's been a while," he said. "There were some points I thought I was going to go crazy."

As part of his art installation, White will show a series of paintings on mental illness inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.

"I feel like it's something that should be noticed," he said. "I thought it would be an interesting subject to illustrate."

The project shows faces in various colors denoting depression, schizophrenia and autism, which White said was most challenging.

"It was kind of difficult to illustrate that because there are so many different cases of it," he said.

White said he'll miss the intimacy of the Loften campus.

"Everyone kind of knows each other here," he said.

He plans to attend Santa Fe College in the fall, although he expressed concerns about the future of the Bright Futures program.

"I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to major in, but this program has definitely influenced me," he said of Loften.

Although he'll be another cap and gown in the crowd, White said he hopes each student chases his or her dreams.

"Whatever they're searching for, just keep on following it," he said.

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