Creekside’s Class of 2017 looks ahead to the future

Thursday night’s graduation ceremony of Creekside High School was a goodbye not only for its 515 graduates but also their longtime principal J. Randy Johnson, who is retiring this year.


The event, held at the University of North Florida, provided many opportunities for a look back and a look ahead for both the Class of 2017 and their beloved leader.

“They dubbed themselves the ‘legendary class,’ said Johnson, “but truly they are special.”

Johnson went on to cite just a few of the collective accomplishments of the senior class: 26,000 hours of community service, $4.6 million in scholarships, including 29 athletic scholarships, 11 National Merit Scholars and a list of 72 colleges, universities and military academies that had accepted Creekside graduates.

Johnson said that as he considered his own retirement, he realized “the Class of 2017 and I have a lot in common — both of us are starting new chapters in our lives.”

In his address to graduates, Superintendent of Schools Tim Forson said he imagined he and Johnson sitting together on a porch several years from now “having a lemonade” and remarking upon the accomplishments of this particular group of students.

“I challenge you, Class of 2017, to make a determination in your head that your are the best class of Creekside High School that ever walked this stage,” Forson said, adding, “I hope that’s the case, and I believe it will be.”

Forson encouraged students to always remember the words of their teachers, mentors, parents and even fellow students that might not ring true for five, 10 or even more years but would guide them throughout their lives.

Michael Golan, who shared speaking privileges with his co-valedictorian Aria Salehi, said, “I look out at my classmates and I see a bunch of winners.”

Golan said that while he and fellow students might not have always succeeded, “What makes us winners is what we did to overcome.”

Golan concluded by saying, “Remember, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

One of the more poignant moments of the night might have been when Johnson — for the last time before a class of high school graduates — recited a motto he’s well known for around school: “Good, better, best and never let it rest until you’re better than the best.”

Almost every graduate in the sea of red caps and gowns in the audience could be seen mouthing the words right along with him.



Correction for May 26, 2017

The St. Augustine Record takes mistakes seriously. We will correct all mistakes of fact in our news stories as soon as possible. We also publish appropriate clarifications.

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