Graduation marks passage of time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

It certainly is a busy time of year. We have children finishing another school year, young adults graduating, adults wrapping up another legislative session and families planning summer vacations. June's calendar is full.

Often when we get this busy we forget to take the time to enjoy the moment. The moment of one's high school graduation is one such event that students, and their families, need to make the most of.

It doesn't matter what's served at the open house, what one is going to wear on the big day or what lies ahead, what is important is time spent with family and friends.

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It's a hard thing for most 18 year olds to comprehend that as soon as the diploma hits their hand they have passed from childhood to adulthood. While things may be similar in the future, they never will be quite the same.

Life-long friends will leave for college and work, responsibilities of adulthood will increase and the comfortable routine of high school life will be replaced by a helter-skelter world of work or college.

Certainly a majority of the graduating students are well-prepared to take this next step. They have been schooled in the basics. They have learned social skills. They have built successful relationships. In short, local graduates are as well prepared, if not better, to tackle the challenges the world will throw at them than students 20 years ago.

Speaking at the Austin Noon Lions on Thursday, Austin High Principal Joe Brown told the group how wonderful this year's graduating class was, yet he wondered what cause this generation of graduates will take up. Brown explained how previous generations played significant roles in the civil rights, peace and environment movements.

Brown said he urges this generation of students to focus on taxation and where government spends taxpayer dollars. The cause Brown is pushing students to take up is a worthy one in light of the current budget problems many government entities face.

There probably are not more pressing needs in the United States than to fix government spending, make sure worthy programs such as Social Security and Medicare are guaranteed funding and that taxation is fair and equitable.

And while what the country needs from today's graduates may be different than years ago, the cause Brown is urging them to seek is attainable. Just as generations have attained great things in the past, today's generation will reach beyond our wildest expectations.

What we should remember, and Brown would agree, is the transition from high school to "the real world" is sudden and often unforgiving. One minute students have a locker and are controlled by a bell, the next they are free to basically do what they please. That's a tough transition to make. It's a transition that needs to be successfully negotiated, but one shouldn't expect students to make in the blink of an eye.

Let's give them a week or two to enjoy the moment before expecting them to tackle the cause of their generation.

Congratulations graduates and best wishes. The country needs you to champion a cause.

Neal Ronquist can be reached at 434-2201 or by e-mail at