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Sometimes, these days, it seems that high school graduation isn’t what

it used to be.

Once it was a finality, the big step into the adult world of jobs and

responsibilities. Now, as all too many of our graduates know, it is


simply a steppingstone to more school and the college degree that, we’re

told over and over, is now so important in the 21st century economy. So

it is understandable if many of the young men and women who just donned

their caps and gowns are looking ahead to the end of summer, when they


will be packing up their things and moving across town, across state or

across country.

All the more reason to slow down for a second and recognize how far

you’ve come already. It’s the perfect moment to reflect on what kind of a

person -- kid, really -- you were when you started high school and what

kind of a person you’ve grown into.

Are you happy with the change? Are there mistakes you wished you had

avoided? Is there more growing you want to do?


There are many more questions you could be asking yourself. The

important thing is to ask them -- don’t let this milestone slip away

without making it meaningful.

The parents, family and friends of graduates also should be

encouraging this introspection, just as you’ve encouraged the learning

and maturing that has led our Class of 2002 to this point. Your

importance will not disappear just because a tasselgot moved across a

mortarboard (you might even find yourself playing a bigger part). Here is


the opportunity to consider how your role needs to change or evolve as

this graduating class heads into adulthood.

One final thought, during a time when so many words are tossed about

football stadiums and auditoriums. Graduation speakers like to talk about

the meaning of “commencement,” how rather than graduation being an end,

it is a beginning. To everyone who’s heard one of those speeches this

year, don’t let that valuable point become lost in the abundant rhetoric.

Instead, make this commencement the start of something wonderful.