Pace senior mistakenly omitted from yearbook treated to dolphin cruise
Pace High School senior Taylor Weatherford was bummed out earlier this month while thumbing through her senior yearbook.
After an already exhausting spring that saw the normally celebratory nature of senior year totally wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, the teen learned her portrait was mistakenly left out of her yearbook.
"We went to the school to get our cap and gowns and yearbook, and when we were back in the car on the way home I couldn't find my picture," Weatherford said Tuesday. "(The school) said they've never had a perfect yearbook."
Getting wind of this news, a Gulf Breeze charter captain and friend of Weatherford's family decided to provide the senior with a little pick-me-up. Captain Joseph Weaver of Wave Cutter Charters offered Weatherford and a few of her closest friends a free dolphin cruise Tuesday afternoon.
So on the day she was supposed to officially graduate from Pace High, Weatherford traded in her cap and gown for a bathing suit and a two-hour ride across the waves of Pensacola Bay.
It wasn't the worst way in the world to spend a Tuesday, said Weatherford, who is working on putting the unfortunate mishap in her rear view mirror.
"I was really upset, but my mom was more upset," Weatherford said. "I really just kind of don't dwell over things."
Pace High School Principal Stephen Shell said Tuesday that the school feels badly about the mistake.
"Her senior portrait was omitted from the page it was supposed to be on. Our mistake, we became aware of it, apologized, the whole nine yards," Shell said. "It's a terrible situation and nothing we can fix."
What Shell said the school has done is refund the cost of the yearbook while still distributing one to Weatherford's family. He's also in the process — with the assistance of a parent volunteer at the school — of pressing up stickers of Weatherford's photo that he said will be mailed out to fellow seniors so they can include her portrait in their yearbooks. The school said it was also mailing out letters of apology.
"We will mail a letter with her picture in the envelope to all of the senior class and apologize, saying, 'This is Taylor's picture, please insert it in your yearbook,'" Shell said.
Weaver is friends with Weatherford's father, who works as an assistant manager at Shaggy's. Weaver's recent business model pivot to host dinner cruises in lieu of the coronavirus is loosely partnered with Shaggy's, as Weaver docks his boat behind the restaurant and begins his cruises there.
"We were sitting there talking after work and I thought, 'Would she be interested in a dolphin cruise or something? Get her and her friends out on a boat, have a personal day?'" Weaver recalled. "I was definitely happy to do it, absolutely."
Kristin McGreger, Weatherford's mother, is still a little frustrated over the situation, which principal Shell said he understands. The teen's mom said at least the dolphin cruise helped soften the blow.
"It definitely makes her feel at least a little special," McGreger said. "She was completely heartbroken last Friday when we went through it."
Weatherford, her boyfriend and her two best friends laughed and joked on the charter as some of their favorite songs blasted out of a portable speaker Tuesday.
"It's a great thing," she said, of the gifted cruise. "Nothing will really make up for being left out of the yearbook, but it was very nice of Captain Joe to offer to take us out here."
The Pace senior realizes how snake-bitten this year has been for the class of 2020, but also has a certain level of perspective when it comes to the bigger picture.
"It's been a really crappy year, there's been a lot of issues in 2020 altogether, but I kind of just keep saying 'Life will go on,'" Weatherford said. "This is just the beginning of my real world life."
Jake Newby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8538.