Graduates have their future before them

Published 7:34 pm Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the coming weeks, hundreds of local seniors will receive their diplomas and move on to the next stage of their lives. They will each wear a cap and gown and be overcome with a sense of relief that the high school years are behind them and excitement about what the future holds.

As I inch ever further away from my own high school graduation, I can honestly say that I do not remember much from that ceremony. But, I do remember the feeling of pride and accomplishment.

I do remember who the valedictorian and salutatorian of my class were, and I do remember the two young women I sat next to during the ceremony. Thank you for alphabetical order.

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But for the life of me, I do not remember the powerful and inspirational message that I am sure was delivered by the guest speaker. In fact, I am not really sure there was a guest speaker.

Even with the upcoming celebration, the class of 2010 will face a reality and challenges I never dreamed of when I graduated. The biggest obstacle facing my graduating class at the time was making sure we didn’t get sunburned too badly on the upcoming days at the beach.

Today’s classes face a much tougher and more competitive job market and an economy that is sluggish in its recovery. Then there is the reality of the ongoing war on terrorism and the battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, though, these soon-to-be graduates will be able to confront these challenges with a more detailed and advanced education than the one I received. These graduates have grown up in the digital age and are gifted in how they are able to apply today’s technology to their education and their careers.

Those of us who are well past our high school years, college years, marriage years, etc. often look back on the “younger generation” and lament their weaknesses, their lack of work ethic or their “newfangled” ways of doing things.

What we tend to forget is that it wasn’t that awfully long ago that we were in their shoes. It wasn’t that long ago that we grinned from ear-to-ear as we moved the tassel to the other side of the cap upon receiving our diploma. It wasn’t that long ago that we sat back and took stock of what we had accomplished, not even caring about what might happen tomorrow.

For these men and women, these graduates, the world is truly their oyster. As with every generation, every graduation class, they will change the world and hopefully have the tools to make whatever they want come true.

Today, we applaud these graduates and wish them the very best, for it may not be too long before some of us may be working for them.