John Searcy gives his valedictorian speech at the Key West High School graduation on May 26. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

In a sea of red and white caps and gowns, the Class of 2023 wrapped up their Key West High School careers on May 26 at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater. 

Principal Dave Perkins, who stepped up to lead the school in March when then-principal Larry Schmiegel left for a job in New York, proudly handed out diplomas and congratulated the class on their accomplishments.

Valedictorian John Searcy and salutatorian Devan Bittner — the top two students in the class — spoke earnestly to their classmates about the past four years, the memories made and the future still to come.

For the coming school year, Rebecca Palomino will take the helm as principal of the county’s largest high school. Perkins did not apply for the permanent position. 

— Mandy Miles

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.