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Updated: 04/09/2014 08:00:03AM

High schoolers to end week on motivational high

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Three local high school graduates with inspiring stories, including two Fort Meade diploma holders, will help current students at the school end this week on a high note.

The school is hosting a special “Learn, Think and Achieve” assembly at 1 p.m. Friday, featuring Elida Beneitez, Altrichia Cook and Dustin Woods.

Benitez is a Cardiothoracic ICU registered nurse at Shands UF in Gainesville, where she provides immediate post-operative care for patients who undergo heart and lung surgeries. She is a 2004 graduate of Fort Meade Senior and a 2008 graduate of The University of Florida.

Her most influential man, her father, told her growing up, “If you put passion, focus, and joy into everything you do, in the end, you learn how to love life and the outcome always benefits you.”

Cook, a Bartow graduate, is a swimsuit fashion designer and has gained popularity in the fashion industry. In fact, suits from her firm, Allusions by A. Lekay Swimsuit Designs, were showcased at the illustrious New York Fashion Week.

When Ms. Cook was 17, she found out she was pregnant and is the mother of 8-year-old Anthony. Despite the life changes that brought, she graduated from Florida Southern College, then went on to obtain a master’s degree from Florida A&M University.

Her dad, who is her best friend, always says, “It takes perseverance to get you there, but it takes character to keep you there.”

Her hope is that she can show others that their goals are reachable.

Woods is the Lead Pastor at Grace Bible Church in Sebring, where he is the primary leader and Bible teacher for a congregation of 2,000. Woods is a Fort Meade Senior High graduate and has bachelor and master degrees in Business Administration. His favorite quote is “Adversity is opportunity’s greatest disguise.”

Also part of Friday’s event will be appearances from the FMMSHS A Cappella Group, FMMHS Drum line, and Boys two Men Mentors.

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