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Challenges await Gadsden County's 2011 graduates

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Soon, members of the class of 2011 will step into the world amid optimistic speeches and witty greeting cards. Some will step seamlessly into their next phase in life, be it continuing education or gaining employment. For many, however, the state of the economy and corresponding high unemployment rate will stand as a barrier in efforts to engage society.
It’s critical those clutching their new diplomas understand that, by graduating, they have proven something to their family, friends and the world: They are achievers.
With that spirit, graduates must be adults in acknowledging that they’re entering the world in a recession-rattled era that won’t fade in a couple of months or even a couple of years.
The Gadsden County School District has prepared them well. Yet, it is drive, initiative and presence of mind to pursue goals in the face of obstacles that will now prove invaluable.
New graduates should be mindful that they make this transition with many skills those from past generations couldn’t have dreamed of.
Finding a balance of being willing to sacrifice while crystallizing and pursuing passions — be it business, social service, science, education or any of a myriad of specialties — will be key to climbing the sometimes-treacherous societal ladder.
While the security that education and employment bring is paramount, being mindful of the role one will play in their community — be it Gadsden County, Leon County or elsewhere — is of great importance.
Approach the world with hometown values and the Golden Rule in mind, and if your goal is to be a multimillionaire, or to cure cancer, or to be an advocate for troubled youths, your moral rudder will steer you in the best direction.
The world that awaits is particularly challenging for those graduating in 2011, and it’s important the inevitable setbacks not be viewed as defeats along the way. In a decade from now, those who have the passion and tenacity to challenge the odds will be those entrenched in making the world a better place for the next generation of graduates.
Members of Gadsden County’s class of 2011 -- East Gadsden High, West Gadsden High, Robert F. Munroe, Tallavana Christian School and our homeschoolers --  have their work cut out for them but, seeing what they’ve accomplished to date, there can be little doubt they will rise to the challenge.
To the graduates: Celebrate, set goals, be willing to sacrifice when necessary, work hard and emulate those who you admire. You’ll do great things. And to everyone else, join us for the May 26 Gadsden County Times Special 2011 Graduation Edition, starring all of our graduates.