PACE— Thousands of family members and friends packed the Pensacola Bay Center to support Pace High School’s 420 graduating seniors of the class of 2017.

The graduates proceeded to their seats to the sound of "Pomp and Circumstance," followed by Emily Lipford singing the National Anthem. 

Principal Stephen Shell welcomed the students, faculty and guests to the occasion. 

“Pace High School class of 2017, it has been an honor serving as your principal for your journey through high school,” Shell said. “I remember you as wide-eyed freshmen, unsure about the opportunity that lay ahead of you. Now I look at you four short years later as mature, confident young adults ready to embark on this next exciting phase of your life.  

“Your leadership has been outstanding and your wonderful presence around campus has made this year a tremendous success. The class of 2017 has achieved at a very high level academically, athletically, in the community, and personally. 

“You have upheld the high expectations and lofty standards of the previous Pace High School graduating classes. Thank you for being great Patriots — you will be missed!” 

He introduced the valedictorian, Christia Victoriano, and the salutatorian, Haley Kling, who both addressed their fellow graduates. 

Honor students Jaxon Adams and Michael Denny also spoke to the crowd. Superintendent of Santa Rosa County Schools Tim Wyrosdick addressed the seniors prior to the presentation of diplomas by Shell. 

The ceremony finished with the Alma Mater played by the Patriot Band. 

The Pace class of 2017 color is blue, the class flower is a sunflower, and the class song is “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.  

The graduating seniors earned 194 scholarships totaling over $7 million. 

According to Dee Kelly, a guidance counselor at Pace, 59 percent of graduates are going to Florida colleges and universities while 17 percent are going out of state.

Another 9 percent are going in the military and 5 percent are going to technical college or vocational school.