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A time to celebrate

Graduation is upon us.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and First Baptist Christian School have already graduated their students into the world, and the three public schools will disperse theirs this weekend.

My own little sister, Emma, who lives in California, graduated June 5.

They are bittersweet experiences for nearly everyone involved.

As a big sister, my emotions went from one extreme to another watching Emma receive her diploma. I know my parents were experiencing the same thing. From the expressions on the faces of many other audience members, I would venture to say we weren’t the only ones with passes on the emotional rollercoaster.

One minute I was welling up with pride, listening to her give a speech about her memories in high school. The next minute, when she was talking with excitement about embarking on her future journeys, I was scared to death thinking that my 18-year-old baby would be going out on her own into the world. It’s a moment of truth for those who have loved, nurtured and invested in their graduates during the past 18 years.

The graduates are usually in such a state of euphoria — which they very well ought to be — that they don’t quite grasp the reality of the situation.

After 13 years of toil, they are done.

The only thing they’re thinking about is getting across the stage and getting the diploma before it sprouts legs and walks away.

Then, reality sets in.

They realize that they’ll no longer be with many of their friends who have been with them through many turbulent years. And their days of pep rallies, high school football games and goofing off in the hallways are over.

I think for both parties, the emphasis on the end can overshadow what graduation signifies. While it is the end of their high school career, the word often associated with graduation is commencement.

Commence means to begin or to start.

It is time for them to begin their begin the next leg of their journeys and to use the skills and talents that have been nurtured and trained during the past 18 years.

It’s not an end of anything but rather a transferring of the past to the future.

The foundation has been laid. The path has been paved.

There will be plenty of time to worry about college finances, what courses to take and what jobs are to be had tomorrow.

Now, it’s time to celebrate our seniors’ accomplishments and encourage them down the road set before them.

Congratulations.