This is a happy time of the year for high school seniors. Their journey in life has just passed another milestone and for most of them the future seems bright. Some will go to the military, some will go to college and others will opt for the world of work. Whatever their choice, the decisions they make now will, for the most, shape their lives.
Leaving high school is a bittersweet experience because the people you saw every day for the past 12 years will go their separate ways. You will, however, keep in touch with those special few with whom you spent most of your time while in high school.
The night I graduated high school, many years ago, was a night filled with fun. Those of us who were continuing our educations looked forward to the fall and starting college and meeting people from all over the country. Also on that night, a group of us gathered at the Greyhound bus station to see some of our fellow classmates board buses to the military induction center in Jacksonville.
The students graduating this week will also take many paths. For some, the road is going to be rocky as they make the transition into adulthood. Others might have it easier but challenges are challenges just the same. This year's graduates are looking at a different world than I did after graduation. They have technology at their fingertips, and have more options with their lives and career choices.
I won't say that their lives are necessarily better because they also face more crime, higher prices for almost everything and a world that is getting smaller. Instead of competing with people from larger cities of another state, they are competing for jobs with people from around the world.
Are they prepared? I don't know.
But I am encouraged for their futures when I see young people like those who were at the Gadsden Arts Center and the Quincy Music Theatre recently. They say students who are good in the arts are also good in other subjects because of the discipline it takes to succeed.
I've seen and read horror stories about teenagers. But that's only a small percentage. For the most part, those who are graduating in the Class of 2009 will go on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, computer programmers and everything else that makes this country what it is today.
As I look back, I remember people saying that if the hippies took control the nation would never survive. Well, we've had a president who could have been considered a fringe hippie. We have congressmen, company presidents, business moguls and mothers and fathers who work every day to make the world turn.
Each generation had the naysayers and this one is no different. Great things are going to come from the Class of 2009. I'm sure of it.