School Spirit

Notes from the students of Vanguard High 

By Caitlyn Jewett Class of 2019

I’ve attended many schools throughout my academic career. I began my experience at Vanguard in 2016. Unlike all of the schools I had been to, I felt like I was immediately a part of something. I’ve learned so much—and not just because of the amazing teachers. The diversity at Vanguard is one of my favorite things because it means anybody can belong. Through student government I’ve been able to be at the center of Vanguard’s spirit. The kind teachers and supporting staff have allowed me to not only be involved in school but also find many outside opportunities. Just last year Vanguard students earned around $9 million in scholarships thanks to our amazing college and career advisor. I’ve been able to go to Washington, D.C. and the University of Maryland with our wonderful music department. I’ve made lifelong memories thanks to VHS.

My story is just one of many. Everyone has their own story, whether they’re a part of Vanguard’s IB program, an athlete or a thespian. When you’re a Knight, you’re a part of a family.

By Jamie Stephens, Class of 2019

My mom has worked at Vanguard since I was 4 months old. Vanguard’s staff and students have always been like a second family to me. Friday night lights have been my favorite for as long as I can remember. Homecoming half-time shows were another favorite. I loved getting to hang balloons in the stands, helping the homecoming court get into the Corvettes (a Vanguard High School tradition) and even getting to walk on the field when it was time to crown the homecoming queen. Going into my sophomore year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through radiation, chemotherapy and long, weekly treatments, Vanguard has always been so supportive. The staff were so loving to my family, bringing us food and just simply being there for us. Every Tuesday throughout October, everyone wore pink in honor of my mom. My mom didn’t miss a day of work through all of this—that truly shows you how much she loves her job at Vanguard. Vanguard is truly like a family.

By D’vodreck Ponder Class of 2018

I’m proud to be able to call myself a Vanguard alumni. From the clubs, service organizations and homecoming week to becoming homecoming king and the abundance of Knight pride on game nights, my high school career will be memorable for years to come. I learned so much during my four years on campus that contributed to the young man I am today. Reflecting on my time there, the lessons learned were some that will stick with me for the rest of my life. No school has more pride than the Mighty Knights. Even though our school’s not perfect (because no school is), I appreciate the efforts to represent our extremely diverse student life through the many VHS media outlets and the effort to unify a school that consists of all walks of life.

By Ann-Maria Derias, Class of 2019

It’s been said that Vanguard High School is ‘the finest school in the land.’ As I enter my senior year at Vanguard, I can most assuredly say that this is true. Walking through hallways of traditional and IB students alike, many of us have shared these feelings. We’ve felt the allure of infectious school spirit. We’ve built the bonds of friendships that will last a lifetime. We have felt the encouragement of teachers as we sit in the classrooms that give us a taste of the promise in our near futures. With the abundance of extracurricular opportunities—and not to mention the tradition of Merlin’s Magic along with the Mr. and Miss VHS Pageant that date back decades—it is nearly impossible not to feel pride in being a Vanguard Knight. From the prolonged study group sessions to the cheers at the homecoming game, we have a sense of community that gives us the capacity for growth in both the academic and athletic worlds. From one student to the next, we are Vanguard!

By Terry Derias, Class of 2017

The rigor of the IB program has truly prepared me for the next chapter of my life as a University of Florida honors student. Some of my best memories at Vanguard are forming close relationships with the wonderful teachers. They truly care for each and every one of their students. My English class was always a calming place to be, and I was always challenged to think more critically about the world around me. Another fond memory I have is serving as student body president. I was able to develop leadership skills that have helped me immensely during my college career. A unique part of my experience was being able to share it with my sister. We were a part of many of the same clubs, so I really got to see her flourish and become a leader. One of the funniest memories I have with my sister is when we both made it to the final round of the Marion County Great Debate competition and had to debate each other. I ended up beating her, but she won the competition the next year. I am so proud to be a Vanguard graduate, and I will always be a Knight at heart!

Note from the editors: This story was submitted and written by the students of Vanguard High School. Thank you to everyone who contributed.
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