Class of 2023 enacting ‘Operation Graduation’

Since the 2019-2020 school year, Key West High School (KWHS) has watched the class of 2023 grow into who they are today. Whether it’s winning a state championship or having a mental breakdown on the bathroom floor, KWHS has seen all of their good and bad times. “It’s given me lows, highs, and everything in between,” explained Liam Flores, the class of 2023’s sitting president. “…but I relish the fact that it’s happened, because without it I wouldn’t be the person that you’re reading from today.”

With ‘Operation Graduation’ being enacted, a bittersweet feeling has arisen in some of the students. “I feel a little sentimental about leaving KWHS,” stated Yordan Lopez-Deleon, a drum major for the KWHS marching band. “…not just because it’s my last year, but because I’ll never get to relive my high school experience again.” However, some ‘conchs’ are excited to graduate and start their new lives that KWHS has prepared them for. 

As stated earlier, the highs and lows from KWHS have formed the students into who they are today. Writing their own stories to tell their future kids (if they have any), about how high school was an absolute bombshell; or a great place to be. “I think my story’s kind of an underdog [story], going from [a] reserved but still outspoken freshman [to] having a complete and utter life-changing experience with my speech for freshmen class secretary,” disclosed Flores. “I [now] see myself as a more confident person, with significantly longer and better hair. But if you want the real story, just go down to Mr. Westbrooks’ room and ask him about the ‘Underdog Story of Liam Flores.’ ” Now two inches taller and with a more cheerful personality, Flores is proud to say that KWHS has changed him into a better man. 

Throughout their years at KWHS, the seniors have formed relationships throughout their high school experience. Some are memorable and can be treasured forever, but some encounters can be absolutely heartbreaking and destroy your self-esteem. “I think I’ve evolved most as a person in these past four years through friendships,” explained Alexandra Malcom, a class of 2023 senior. “I was lucky enough to have that one solid friendship [throughout] highschool. [It] showed me who I want to be, the right ways to go, and that brought out the best in me.

At the KWHS senior orientation, Stacy Saunders, the director of the extracurriculars at KWHS, said that senior year is like a blur. “When you come back from winter break, you’ll think to yourself, ‘Where did all the time go?’ ”, said Saunders. And with all the events coming up this year, the excitement some students have is going to make the time go by faster. “Overall I’m excited for all the upcoming events such as Homecoming, football games, Prom, etc.,” stated Lopez-Deleon. “In my personal life, I’m excited for all [my band] competitions and the fashion show at the end of the year.” 

With their futures just around the corner, Flores and Lopez-Deleon have somewhat of an idea of what their future looks like. Flores’ top college choice is the University of South Florida, planning to major in communications. Lopez-Deleon’s top two college choices are the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida, hoping to major in architecture like his uncle and dad, and to also major in business administration. Although, not everyone’s path is sure, and that’s okay. “My goal for college is to go to Florida State University,” stated Malcom. “Although, I have absolutely zero idea [on] what I want to do or major in.”

KWHS has not only given skills to pass a test (or cheat on a test if that’s how you like to play), but it has given skills to pass the ultimate test: life. “Life isn’t some Legend Of Zelda single-player game,” explained Flores. “…you gotta talk to people and form relationships because that’s how we as people grow and feel true happiness.” 

And with that the class of 2023 leaves advice to the underclassmen: “don’t be stupid and roll with the punches.”

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