By Tamas Mondovics

Since opening its doors in the fall of 2014, Bell Creek Academy High (BCA), a tuition-free public charter school has seen the first of many events, but celebrating the graduation of its inaugural senior class of 2017 unquestionably tops the chart.

Thanks to its reputation BCA, located at 13306 Boyette Rd. in Riverview, currently boasts of reaching full capacity. The school welcomed its first class of high school freshmen four years ago adding a new grade with each season.

BCA hosted its very first senior breakfast and Teal Letter event last month, recognizing the 64 graduating seniors ahead of the graduation ceremony held just two days later at the Tampa Theater.

Principal Margaret Fahringer couldn’t be more proud of her students and to be a part of seeing the school’s first graduates receive their diplomas.

“The academy exists and is now enjoying the spotlight because of you students and all the parents who supported you and the school,” Fahringer told the seniors as they opened their letters and cards during breakfast.

Fahringer acknowledged the commitment of both students and parents when she said, “They stuck with us as we worked out the bumps on the road. Now Bell Creek is shaping up to be one of, if not the best, high school in the county.”

For the first time in the school’s short history, the entire BCA staff had to say a bittersweet goodbye to its students many of whom, thanks to their individual talents, abilities, hard work and dedication, leave something special behind, like being the school’s first Valedictorian, Arianna Meekins, and Salutatorian, Kirsten Olekszak.

Members of the academy’s student government, including Haley-Starr Maldonado, Liz Mion, Faith Livingston, Bethany Butler and Chadler Eisner also set a fine example to follow.

Amidst the hugs and goodbyes that followed the commencement ceremony, students like Sarah Filosi, Brooke Nilsson, Morgan Hammond, Karla Ojeda, Pearlie Mondovics, Noah French, Armand Mixon and Demani Hemley just to name a few could be heard to promise each other the famous last words; “We’ll keep in touch for sure.”

But everyone knows that high school graduation is the first major milestone in a person’s life for a reason, and the possibilities that follow are endless.

While a lot was said about BCA’s Class of 2017, perhaps it was Fahringer’s final words that summed up the occasion best when she said, “You can’t be a real high school until you graduate someone. We are all so proud of you. Congratulations, Bell Creek Academy, Class of 2017.”

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