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IMG Academy Grads define Sacrifice

Four camera crews crowded an aisle in Neel Auditorium at Manatee Community College to film the graduation of Paula Creamer, the 18-year-old who won $187,500 in a golf tournament Sunday.
 
Creamer sat on the stage Thursday among more than 70 other members of IMG Academy School's class of 2005.
 
Through student speeches and even a song, the themes of diversity and sacrifice defined the school's fifth annual commencement ceremony.
 
The class of 2005 comprised students from 18 countries and more than 20 states, said Richard Odell, the school's president and founder. More than 60 different colleges and universities await their arrival and a handful of the students already are, or are about to be, professional athletes. Thursday morning's graduates have been awarded more than $700,000 in college athletic scholarships.
 
"What kind of young people are willing to surrender mind, body and soul to attempt to reach a goal that might not ever measure up to the degree of their sacrifice," said Caitlin Marquis, a class of 2005 member and recipient of the school's Paul Howard Memorial Award. The award goes to a graduate who exemplifies respect for others, devotion to sport and dedication to academics.
 
The school has a variety of class schedules to fit the needs of teenagers in training at IMG Academy, Odell said. Almost all of IMG Academy's students train in baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis or golf.
 
"Thank you to the IMG Academy staff and the IMG Academy students for helping me become the best student athlete and the best person that I know how to be," Marquis said. She plays soccer and will attend the University of Colorado.
 
Creamer, the second-youngest winner of a LPGA tournament, cried and hugged her favorite teacher goodbye after the ceremony. Creamer leaves for another golf tournament next week.
 
"It's weird how everybody here is going to college and school and I'm going to LPGA, but it's definitely what I want and I wouldn't change a thing," Creamer said.
 
Joseph Kim said he saw audience members crying as his son and IMG Academy grad, Jeff Kim, sang "You Raise Me Up."
 
"You raise me up so I can stand on mountains," Kim sang. "You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I'm on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be."
 
After each graduate's name was called, they moved their tassels to the right side of their caps before tossing the blue hats into the air.
 
As they filed off the stage and along the side of the audience, family and friends clapped, cheered and gave thumbs up. These student athletes were already stars and their fans, with cameras and video recorders in hand, anxiously awaited the smallest wave or the slightest smile.
 
Graduation at a glance
 
Graduates: 84
 
Speakers: Richard Odell, Danny Morissey, Caitlin Marquis, Montek Mayal, Andy Rathmann-Noonan, Brandon McAdams
 
Shining Moment: Jeff Kim, a graduate, and Katy Yoder, former guidance counselor, sang "You Raise Me Up."
 
Best Quote: "You're probably sitting there right now, whispering to yourself, or the person next to you, 'good grief, his head does look like a pinata,' " said Brandon McAdams, a IMG Academy graduate, during his farewell speech. He referenced the size of his head as an example of how each student is unique and has diverse goals, but they all sacrificed a normal life to attend IMG Academy. 

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