Walter C. Blackmon dressed in suit and tie.
Blackmon to Address 2018 FSDB Graduates

Distinguished author, poet, and motivational speaker Walter C. Blackmon of Tallahassee will provide remarks as guest speaker during the 104th Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) Commencement Ceremony, sharing words of inspiration with 2018 graduates from across the state of Florida as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Blackmon, who graduated from FSDB in 1991, has proven time and again that the achievement of success is attainable no matter the odds. What drives him most is helping individuals reach that next step at becoming their “very best.” Large or small, he engages his audiences with sincerity and purpose that lifts spirits and causes minds to flow freely with unlimited positivity, belief, and self-worth. Fellow toastmasters call his riveting life story of “How the Chickens Disappeared” as one that needs to be heard by anyone and everyone. Learn more about Walter C. Blackmon’s background and accomplishments.

Special honors will be bestowed upon Valedictorian Avery Daniel Hutchison and Salutatorian Mackenzie Rose Newman of the FSDB Blind High School Class of 2018, as well as Valedictorian DeanJames Garcia D’Angelo and Salutatorian Cassandra Abigale Medina of the FSDB Deaf High School Class of 2018. Both valedictorians will address their respective classes.

Avery Daniel Hutchison (Keystone Heights) has been accepted to Stetson University and plans to major in Education with a minor in Physics.  At FSDB, Hutchinson has been a member of the Goalball team and has participated in Book Club, Young Life, and Chess Club extracurricular activities. He has worked after school as an assistant audio-visual technician. He also holds Safe Staff and OSHA certification.

Mackenzie Rose Newman (Green Cove Springs) plans to attend the University of Florida and major in the medical field.  At FSDB, Newman was a member of the N’Vision and Outta Sight Bands, as well as a vocalist in her church choir. Her volunteer and off-campus work include the Salvation Army and Highland Farms Horse Boarding Facility.

DeanJames Garcia D’Angelo (Palm Coast) plans to attend Gallaudet University to major in Information Technology. He plans to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and work as a software developer. D’Angelo has been taking college courses at St. Johns River State College and has earned the Scholar designation diploma by taking extra rigorous classes. At FSDB he was involved in Academic Bowl, Jr. NAD, and the Outdoor Club. He is also a sports aficionado and participated in Varsity Football, Basketball, Tennis, and Track and Field.

Cassandra Abigale Medina (Deltona) plans to attend Daytona State College to pursue studies in the field of cybersecurity. She has been taking college courses at St. Johns River State College and will be awarded the Scholar designation diploma. At FSDB, she was a cheerleader, member of the Dance Troupe, involved in the Book Club, and an active leader in Student Council and Jr. NAD. She has also been a student representative for the Deaf High School on the Parent-Student Advisory Committee (Sub-SAC). In her spare time, Medina volunteered with Deaf Elementary students after school.

FSDB Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Wagner and FSDB President Dr. Jeanne Glidden Prickett will provide commencement remarks.  Additional trustees in attendance include Christine Chapman, Linda DiGonzalez, and Dr. Thomas Zavelson. Confirmed dignitaries include FSDB Blind Department Principal Carol Bogue on behalf of the FSDB Blind Alumni Association; Senette Jenkins, President, FSDB Deaf Alumni Association President; Lisa Rose, President, Florida Association of the Deaf; and Chris Force, Principal, First Coast Technical College.

 Thursday, May 17, 2018

  • The FSDB Museum “A Walk Through Time: FSDB 1885-2015” exhibit in Alumni Hall is open to the public from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.
  • The FSDB Dance Troupe Final Performance is at 7:00 pm; and open the the public. Watch this three-hour event via live stream.

Friday, May 18, 2018

  • The FSDB Board of Trustees will hold its regular Board meeting at 9:00 am in the Moore Hall Center for Learning and Development (CLD). Learn more about the meeting, which is open to the public. Add link once notice is posted
  • The FSDB Museum “A Walk Through Time: FSDB 1885-2015” exhibit in Alumni Hall is open to the public from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.
  • The FSDB Senior Awards Ceremony begins at 1:00 pm, followed by the FSDB Commencement Ceremony at 4:00 pm. Attendance is restricted to those with special tickets. Watch both events via live stream.

About FSDB
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired. 
At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit