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Work hard and live life

Published 9:25pm Monday, June 17, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when folks of all ages don caps and gowns of all sizes and graduate from various stages of life.

I’ve had the privilege of covering several of these graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks. On June 8, I attended Nansemond River High School’s and Suffolk Christian Academy’s graduation ceremonies, while reporter Matthew Ward went to Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools to cover their ceremonies.

Then yesterday, I witnessed the Healthy Families graduation, which features perhaps the smallest graduates ever — kids who, for the most part, haven’t even started kindergarten yet.

All across the city, students graduated from kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade, trade school and community college. We’ve run graduation announcements galore in our newspaper the past few weeks from a myriad of higher education institutions. And we covered the last day of school on Friday, watching many students “graduate” into a new grade, even though many of them did not commemorate the occasion with academic regalia.

Each of these graduates is ending one part of his life and beginning a new one. Each is looking forward with her own plans, dreams and fears. Each has aspirations of what he wants to become, whether it is the kindergartener who wants to be an astronaut or the college graduate applying for social worker positions.

Whatever level of their education they have graduated from recently, this year’s graduates, like all those before them, will face challenges and reap rewards they can’t even imagine right now. Many of those challenges will be different from those of their predecessors as the world continues to change.

I’ll steer clear of trying to offer any sage advice, since the graduates already have received plenty. But I hope this year’s crop of graduates has the courage to face the challenges head-on, to continue learning, to improve the world around them, to work hard and — not the least on the list — to play hard, as well.

I liked the advice of Nansemond River Principal Thomas McLemore, who told his graduates, “A job and a plan for the future are important, but so is living life.”

Congratulations to all the classes of 2013.

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