It was not a typical graduation for Lakeland High.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of administrators and coaches gathered in the school’s theater, decked out in black gowns. It would be a quick ceremony for just one student: Tyrell Brooks, who had missed LHS’ official graduation on Friday at the RP Funding Center.
Brooks was in Jacksonville that day competing in the Florida High School Track & Field State Championships. Being a student-athlete can involve lots of sacrifice, but you don’t expect to miss out on your high school graduation, and those memories with your friends.
LHS Principal Art Martinez said he’s never organized a commencement for just one student.
“This was the first time,” he said. “I asked our admins if they would be willing to come in. I thought, let’s go do something for the kid.”
So the LHS staff found themselves on campus early Sunday afternoon. Brooks arrived with his family, dressed in his cap and gown.
He walked down to the stage as “Pomp and Circumstance” played on a Bluetooth speaker. Martinez gave a brief speech, and Brooks was formally awarded his diploma. His tassel was turned, signifying the end of his high school career.
Everyone gathered on the stage for photos, and the day was finally done. Brooks had his moment and memories.
“It was a great experience,” Martinez said. “He’s a great kid, we just wanted to make a special moment for him. We wanted to do it, that’s what we’re about.”