New grads walk the walk

A late les­son at Semi­nole High re­sults in color-co­or­di­nated footwear.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY LAU­REL DEMKOVICH Times Staff Writer

Lake­wood High School se­nior Ge­or­gia Dun­ning, 18, of Gulf­port waves to fam­ily and friends Wed­nes­day dur­ing the school’s com­mence­ment cer­e­mony, one of more than a dozen at Trop­i­cana Field in St. Pe­ters­burg this week. Stu­dents from Semi­nole High strolled across the stage in style af­ter a Twit­ter campaign net­ted stu­dents more than 100 pairs of free Crocs. For a look at other schools, see our on­line gallery at tam­pabay.com/pho­tos.

ST. PE­TERS­BURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pic­tured them­selves wear­ing Crocs to their grad­u­a­tion. But the foam shoes were com­fort­able, of­fered bet­ter foot­ing than heels, and now the Semi­nole High se­niors had a story to tell.

It all started a lit­tle more than two months ago in teacher Tif­fany Ras­mussen’s third-pe­riod dual en­roll­ment class. The se­niors be­gan dis­cussing what they would wear to grad­u­a­tion at Trop­i­cana Field. Girls were re­quired to wear a “white or light col­ored dress” and “white or light-col­ored shoes.”

Some in the class voiced con­cerns about wear­ing heels, which can hurt or sink into the Trop’s ar­ti­fi­cial grass sur-

face, Agee said. As a soc­cer and flag foot­ball player, she al­ways wore a pair of cam­ou­flage Crocs in­stead of her cleats to and from games.

That gave her an idea.

“What if we all wore Crocs?” Agee said to her class­mates.

Ras­mussen sug­gested tweet­ing at the Crocs com­pany. “What if they sent you some­thing?” the teacher said.

Agee took to her phone and com­posed a tweet: “@Crocs sit­ting here try­ing to de­cide what to wear to grad­u­a­tion, how many Rts would it take to send all the se­nior girls at Semi­nole Se­nior High School white crocs to wear at grad­u­a­tion?!”

“2018 … ob­vi­ously,” Crocs replied two hours later.

“You got it!!” Agee tweeted back.

At first, she and her class­mates never thought it would get this big. But then, the retweets started pour­ing in. Class­mates, teach­ers, for­mer stu­dents and par­ents all started shar­ing the tweet on var­i­ous plat­forms, try­ing to get to that 2,018 num­ber.

Agee said she was sur­prised af­ter 100 retweets, but still never thought they would make it to more than 2,000.

“Af­ter 1,000, it just kept go­ing non­stop until it hit 2,018,” she said.

The com­pany kept its part of the bar­gain, send­ing 124 pairs of Crocs Clas­sic Clogs last week to Semi­nole High.

“This might be the first time more than 100 pairs of Crocs cross the same grad­u­a­tion stage,” said Ter­ence Reilly, Crocs chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer.

He said the com­pany pays at­ten­tion to what con­sumers are say­ing about it, and when they saw Agee’s tweet they had to re­spond. He de­cided to ask for 2,018 retweets since it was “a mean­ing­ful yet at­tain­able num­ber.”

Agee said her teach­ers were sup­port­ive, but only she and a large group of her friends ended up wear­ing the Crocs dur­ing Semi­nole’s com­mence­ment cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day.

Still, the ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vided a valu­able les­son in the fi­nal weeks of the school year, said Ras­mussen, who likes to teach her stu­dents “soft skills,” the ones you can’t learn from a text­book.

“One of my things is it can’t hurt to ask,” she said.

“It’s just neat see­ing how these things work,” Ras­mussen added. “I don’t think the stu­dents re­al­ized they have such a voice.”

Agee said now her legacy at the school is “the Croc girl” — a name she’s happy to have. It’s cool to be re­mem­bered that way, she said.

“It’s kind of mind-blow­ing. If you set your mind to do some­thing, you can do it.”

Pho­tos by DIRK SHADD | Times

From left, Caitlin Fruit, Al­li­son Hay­duke and Sa­man­tha Keim sport white Crocs on Wed­nes­day at Trop­i­cana Field.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

DIRK SHADD | Times

Sarah Agee com­posed the tweet that got the ball rolling to­ward a do­na­tion from the Crocs com­pany.

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