It was an evening of Pomp & Circumstance — aboard personal watercraft — on May 19, when Somerset Island Prep held its fourth annual Jet Ski graduation ceremony in Key West Harbor.

The ceremony started out more traditionally, with the school’s 14 graduates sitting in black caps and gowns on the Sunset Pier at Ocean Key Resort.

Lucas Tarnowski gave the graduation address and principal Tom Rompella sent the graduates off with warm words of encouragement and humor. Then things took a decidedly Key West  turn, when the graduates — and the principal — boarded jet skis (donated by Fury Watersports) to collect their diplomas, as Rompella held out the scrolls with a mechanical grabbing device.

The novel idea started as a COVID precaution for social distancing and has become a cherished tradition. 

Somerset Island Prep is a free, public charter high school with about 125 students, located on Flagler Avenue in Key West. 

Keys Weekly congratulates the Class of 2023 from Somerset Island Prep:

Tanicha Brutus, Antonie Cerha, Kendra Cowan, Coral Escoto, Gwenyth Gaines, Keona Gerwig, Ryan Gorczycki, Zoe Hays, Henry Jabour,

Elijah Miranda, Scott Patrick, Samuel Sandino, Lucas Tarnowski, Riley Varney

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.