More than 900 Charlotte County students will walk across the stage in cap and gown to accept their high school diplomas this week.

The district announced the graduation rate reached 87.6 percent for the 2017-18 school year, an improvement from the previous year’s 81 percent.

Charlotte County’s graduation rate currently ranks 26th overall in the state. The state average is 86.1 percent.

“We scored 1.5 percent above the state average and are hoping to increase our graduation rate each and every year,” district spokesperson Mike Riley, said.

The number of graduates will likely change as students come back for summer school to complete their requirements and earn their diplomas.

The graduatesLemon Bay High School senior Allison Deal received $55,000 towards her Stetson University tuition, $15,000 of which came from local organizations.

“It’s been a lot, but a lot of fun,” Deal said of her senior year. “I got to do a lot of exploring over the last few years — I got to try anatomy and physiology,” she said.

Deal has been very active in the music programs. She has played trumpet for the school band since she was in sixth grade. She has also been a member of the Charlotte County Chorale program.

Deal will receive her diploma on Friday in Lemon Bay’s gymnasium. In the fall, she will head to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where she will double major in music and digital arts.

“It will be awesome to be close to Disney and Universal, and there’s definitely a lot of internship opportunities over there,” she said.

Deal looks forward to joining the school band, and is considering joining the orchestra and chorus.

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Charlotte High School senior Anthony Harvey will receive his diploma Thursday at the Lee Civic Center in Fort Myers.

“It feels pretty awesome to be graduating, it’s the next step in my life,” he said.

In the fall, he will be studying at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers, where he will study computer animation. He will commute the first two years, then he hopes to transfer to a computer tech school.

“I took some easy classes, then I also took AP calculus, which was a really tough class,” he said. “But I’m glad I went through it.”

He is particularly excited about having the AP test behind him. The test was over four hours long, he said.

Harvey has been on the tennis team all four years of high school. He has also done on-job training, which allows him to leave school early and go to work an average six hours a week.

He still works a job at Twin Isles Country Club in Punta Gorda.

His favorite memory from senior year was senior field day, where students got to spend the day at the South County Pool.

Both Port Charlotte and Charlotte High School will hold their ceremonies at the Lee Civic Center. It’s the only venue in the area with enough capacity to hold all students and their guests.

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