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Face coverings will be optional at Volusia County Schools’ high-school graduation rehearsals and at the graduation ceremonies. The graduations of the five public high schools in West Volusia will be June 3-6 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.

The decision to make masks optional and voluntary at the upcoming graduation ceremonies was made because the Ocean Center no longer requires masks at its facility. The change applies to all staff, graduates and their guests.

Each graduate can purchase up to eight tickets. Any extra tickets will be sold at the door at the Ocean Center on the day of each graduation.

Families should contact their high schools with any questions about graduation.

VCS will professionally livestream the ceremonies to allow extended family to watch remotely. The ceremonies will also be recorded and posted on the district website.

The graduation schedule is posted on the VCS website at www.vcsedu.org/graduation.

DeLand High School senior Sophia Abolfathi

DeLand High School senior Sophia Abolfathi has been named a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, one of 61 graduating high-school seniors selected nationwide. She is an International Baccalaureate student and plans to attend the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, majoring in media production, management and technology, while being part of UF’s Honors Program.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will supply up to $40,000 annually to cover costs associated with the student’s undergraduate education.

The Cooke College Scholarship Program seeks to close the gaps in higher-education access for driven students with financial need. Scholars also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and access to graduate-school funding.

More than 5,800 students applied for the Cooke College Scholarship. The foundation evaluated each submission and selected scholars based on their academic ability, persistence, leadership and financial need.

Sophia is the daughter of Eda and Mostafa Abolfathi. She attended Manatee Cove Elementary and River Springs Middle schools, both in Orange City, before coming to the IB Program at DeLand High School.

Pine Ridge High School

Maribel Hettrick, college and career counselor at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, hosted a challenge to teachers with senior students to see which class period would have the most FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) applications completed. The students were invited to a luncheon, and each teacher pulled a name from a hat for each winner to receive a free cap and gown. The winners were Juleidy Diaz Betancourt, Drelyn Nobles and Ariel Ramsay.

Pine Ridge congratulates Tia Binns on being selected to participate in the FACA Coach All-Star Soccer game.

University High School

The girls’ softball team at University High School in Orange City is to be congratulated for their outstanding season, with a final record of 25-1. The only game the team lost was in the semifinals of the FHSAA State Softball Championships. The University Titans were stopped in their quest by Lake Worth Park Vista, 4-3. Park Vista at that point was 29-0.

Stetson University

The Stetson University Honors Program award for the Outstanding Senior was presented to Ruby Moore, a double major in communication and media studies and business of fine arts. She also participated as Open House Captain for Student Ambassadors, Airwaves Coordinator on the Homecoming Committee, and numerous positions within her Greek organizations.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award was presented to two students, Desha Phipps and Nelson Quezada Herrera. Phipps was a health science major and graduated with a Certificate of Community Engagement, while Herrera studied political science and received the prestigious American Political Science Association Diversity Award, in the form of a scholarship for graduate study in political science. Herrera was a teaching assistant at Stetson, and at DeLand High he served as a tutor in the AVID Program.

The Etter McTeer Turner Award was presented to Kennedy Ryder, who had a double major while pursuing multiple internships. Ryder presented two papers at the 2021 National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Stetson will be hosting a FUNd Run Virtual 5K for the alumni during the month of July. Stetson says wherever you are, everyone of all ages, abilities and locations is welcome to participate. Alumni can run, jog, roll or even bike on their favorite route in their town, at their own speed, at their own time throughout the month of July.

Register by 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 18, to participate in the #StetsonFUNdRun. All registrants will receive a race bib, and those who make a $30 donation to the Stetson Fund will receive a specially designed race T-shirt and Stetson swag.

Your participation or donation benefits the Stetson Fund, which ensures that academically qualified students of every economic, ethnic and social background are welcomed into more than 135 years of unbroken tradition of challenge, learning, exploration and growth. The Stetson Fund serves the university’s greatest needs — especially student scholarships. Register at https://stetson.giv.sh/0cbd.

Five Stetson students from the Class of 2021 advanced from cadets to new officers, receiving commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during a modified Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. A sixth student is poised to receive that commission this summer, according to retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch, recruiting operations officer for the Eagle Battalion Army ROTC, which consists of Stetson, Embry-Riddle, Bethune-Cookman and Daytona State College students.

Stetson University President Dr. Christopher F. Roellke threw out the ceremonial first pitch as the Hatters baseball team took on the nationally ranked Florida Gators at Melching Field in DeLand. Stetson won the game, 6-1.

College honors

Krystal Vermillion, of DeBary, was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Allyson Murdock, of DeBary, and Yasmin Perez, of Deltona, have been named to the dean’s list for the spring semester at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. Perez also graduated with a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Ashley Marie Evans, of Deltona, has been named to the Honor Roll of the Academic Dean for the spring semester at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in biology cum laude.

Petar Nikolic, of Deltona, has earned a Bachelor of Science from The University of Alabama.

Edel Morale, of Deltona, has been named to the dean’s list at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email, at flacoach43@hotmail.com.

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