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Class of 2023 at Senior Splash

Celebrating the Graduating Seniors, Frank Lloyd Wright Style

May 8, 2023

One of the most fun and celebratory traditions at Florida Southern College is the annual Senior Splash, where the soon-to-be graduating class are invited to dive in and swim in the J. Edgar Wall Water Dome on campus.

students holding themed towels
Seniors with the commemorative Water Dome Splash towels

The celebration culminates a student’s time on campus and allows for the graduating seniors to revel in their accomplishments as a class. The 2023 edition of the Senior Splash was no different, with nearly the entire group participating in the Student Government Association-run event.

The pool basin, which has a diameter of 160 feet, can hold upwards of a quarter million gallons of water, and several hundred seniors. The 75 jets can blast water up to 45 feet in the air, well over their heads.

“I’ve been looking forward to this since freshman year,” said Kaela Wilks, an environmental science major from Zephyrhills. “It’s just a cool thing to do.”

Normally, students are not allowed to enter the Water Dome under any circumstance, and face a steep fine for breaking the rule.

students holding snake themed inflatable
Students even brought floaties and pool
toys into the Water Dome!

The experience is one that students look forward to, even from before they actually enroll. Prospective students are often heard during their campus tours saying how they can’t wait until they graduate so that they can take part in the tradition.

“It’s a fun time,” said Denver Smith, a communications major from Lakeland. “I’m super excited to jump in the Water Dome. I’m so excited that I get to do this!”

As part of the event, some students brought giant inflatable pool toys, ranging from simple floats to lounge rafts. Every participating senior received a commemorative beach blanket.

“The Senior Splash really shows that this is the end of my senior year,” lamented Jarred McCormick, who hails from St. Louis, Mo., and will earn his degree in marine biology. “I’ve been working towards this for four years now, and I get to have a final Splash with my friends and celebrate the fact that we all have made it to the end.”

Kylie Dearing, a secondary education major from Jacksonville, who is focused on English literature, agrees.

“This is an opportunity to get together and celebrate together. I get to see all my friends one last time before we graduate.”

students posing for photo in water dome
Students enjoyed their long-awaited time in the Water Dome.

This most unique tradition began in 2011, when several members of the Board of Trustees joined President Kerr in leading the charge into the Water Dome. Renovations had begun several years earlier, restoring the original vision of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

“I love it, love it, love it! This is so much fun!” said Shari Szabo, Dean of Student Success at Florida Southern. “You can see the smiles, you can feel the smiles from our students, and that’s what this is all about. It’s creating memories, and giving them a lifetime moment that they will take with them forever.”

Szabo, who graduated from FSC in 1983, never had the opportunity to have her own Senior Splash.

“So many times I will encounter folks who graduated back in my years and even before that, and they say, ‘Wait a minute! I wish we had had something like this when we were here!’”