FPC's Class of 2023 makes a commitment to the future and each other.
More than 700 freshmen at Flagler Palm Coast High School spent Aug. 16 learning to conquer fear.
FPC’s Bulldog Success Day is an all-day annual event for incoming freshmen. This year, students heard from motivational speaker Charles Clark, took part in ice-breaking and teambuilding exercises led by upperclassmen from the Bunnell Future Farmers of America, held a mock graduation ceremony in which they committed to finishing high school and attended a pep rally hosted by their Student Government Association.
The school’s largest-ever class cycled through the day’s activities in smaller, more manageable groups.
During Clark’s activity, gymnasium stands full of fidgety freshmen took up pencil and paper to exorcise their anxieties for the year to come.
“Raise your hands if you have a dream,” Clark said.
All hands went up.
“You probably have a fear that’s holding you back. Write down the fear holding you back from achieving your goal.”
Among the hundreds of answers: many variations of “Hard to make friends,” and “Too shy.”
The rest of the day would provide ample opportunity to find weapons against the worries they carried over from middle school.
The Flagler Auditorium became a site of pomp and circumstance as students streamed across the stage to shake hands with Principal James “Tom” Russell, committing themselves to another walk across another stage in four years, when a diploma would be waiting for them.
It was about setting an expectation, Russell said. “Their lives can be different if they get a high school diploma.”
He was confident about their chances. “They’re a good bunch of kids.”
One of those kids, Demetrio Martinez, 14, shared his principal’s optimism. He called high school the best time of his life.
“Only a week in, and it’s so much fun!" Martinez said. He was certain he will graduate, and hopes to find a job before he does.
Bulldog Success Day was a chance for Demetrio’s class to become better acquainted, particularly in the gym activities.
In one corner, a ring of students tossed a beachball back and forth. The ball was scrawled with questions, and the catcher would ask of the thrower the first question they saw.
Across the gym, a team of freshmen had to roll a tennis ball across short segments cut from pool noodles, holding them side-by-side and end-to-end to form parallel tracks. When this team game met with success, the gym echoed with cheers. When the ball slipped, the stands rang with the crack of noodles on the ground.
After a short snack time outside, the Class of 2023 was packed into the auditorium for a pep rally.
“I hope you guys are really proud of your achievements,” SGA President Isabella Scarcella, 17, said to the freshmen of their performance in middle school.
She and Alyssa Santore, 17 and SGA vice president and student body president, spent the raucous rally hyping up the school’s extracurricular programs: the Marching Bulldogs played from the balcony, the cheerleaders and dance teams took over the stage and the FPC Thespians performed “Circle of Life.”
The students were even taught the school fight song, as well as “the PB & J,” a dance performed during football games.
“That was amazing,” said Rylee Stives, 14, leaving the auditorium in school colors. “I’m really proud to be a part of this high school."
On the faces of Rylee’s classmates, pouring out into the parking lot in a stream of green and white, there was little fear to be seen.