Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

Seven hundred more graduates from Suffolk schools now hit the streets. The first item of business is to rest a bit with a short vacation, then find a summer job to tide one over until September when many will opt for continuing education. But some in the fall will find it tough to crash through the wall of acceptance.

Most colleges are eager for tuition dollars but not geared to provide remedial courses as it could make them look bad later when they are measured by graduation rate. The better students, with some form of financial backing will enter ivy walls. Others will be able to join in a family business…but a large segment of even that better population will be hard pressed to find a job. Competition can often come from between-year college students who are also looking for money, to maintain student loans. For those who wasted the opportunity to learn, even the job application is a stumbling block…it’s a tough unforgiving world.

The last words graduates hear academically are in a speech by some relatively important person who has found success after completing a higher education. Students invariably hear how the world is wide open and success will be theirs but only after hard work and dedication. They will learn, either from the speech or by actual practice that the next few decades will be much different than their first two. Now they face more responsibility than brushing their teeth and changing their underwear…they will quickly realize they don’t know everything. I well remember that joyous but frightening vacuum when my last school bell had rung and I wondered what was next. It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and looking down at all that world spread out below and wondering how you can get there and fit it. In a way I am grateful that the World War II draft took care of three years.

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Headline news from the year 2029, a world than can be changed by today’s graduates: Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia formally known as California. Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage. France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica.

Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking. Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only. A 58 billion study finds that diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss…average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.

Japanese scientists have created a camera with such a fast shutter speed they could have photographed Senator Pelosi with her mouth shut. Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative. A liberal Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights. Suffolk sets highest tax rate in the Hampton Roads Region at $3.12. Baby conceived naturally . . . scientists stumped. Can the graduating classes of 2005 head some of that off? We’ll see.

Why do city officials want to unload downtown real estate assessed at $536,000 for $105,000? And that assessment was lowered in June from $726.000. Was that perhaps for convenience?

Some council members are asking why city officials appear to be in bed with a prominent local downtown developer.

The plan called for selling city-owned Jefferson School to Mickey Garcia even though he has since referred to it as a &uot;Hell Hole.&uot; The city assessor lowered its value after noting the city was demolishing the print shop next to the school. But that demolition has been known about for months. The mayor suggests it is worth even less and that &uot;incentives&uot; are needed to keep downtown revitalization going. There’s that word again, &uot;downtown.&uot; Does where you live need revitalization? My home needs a little TLC; maybe they will consider lowering my assessment.

The mayor said he believes the Jefferson School is a white elephant, of no value whatsoever. So why would anyone buy it…as a favor to the city to get it back on the tax roles? But what is the hurry to restore it? If the cultural center flies, that building may be worth far more than it would take to fix it up. Surely the Garcia knows that. Hasn’t he already figured on a million dollars worth of penthouses?

I like Milteer’s remark about suddenly lowering that schools assessment; &uot;If assessments don’t mean anything, then we should throw them all out.&uot; According to the Daily Press coverage, Milteer also thinks the city should not sell its own property for less than 95 percent of assessed value. I’d add, &uot;and maybe not fool around with assessments.&uot;

Robert Pocklington is a regular columnist for the News-Herald. E-mail him at