When the Great Bend High School class of 2012 walks across the stage at GBHS’s Memorial Stadium this afternoon and members of School Board hand them their diplomas, they will join and estimated 3.2 million other American high school seniors graduating this spring.
Throughout their primary and secondary educational careers, these students were taught by over 7.2 million teachers in over 100,000 schools across America.
Many of them will join the 20 million kids in the nation’s college, paying an average of $15,876 per year to attend a public college or university, or $40,633 at a private institution. Others will attend a trade school, go into the military or head straight into the workforce.
Indeed, the few short steps those grads take today are the first steps in a much longer journey as they leave home to make their own ways in the world.
The bleachers at that stadium will be packed with parents, other family members and friends of those cap-and-gown-clad young people. Moms and dads, too, are embarking on a journey, one with fewer or no more children at home.
We live in an uncertain world, one wracked by a shaky economy, war and political uncertainty. Finding a job? Finding a career? Retirement? Family? Kids, these are difficult questions, and, believe it or not, you need to start asking them now.
Students, take responsibility for this planet. You are inheriting this world so you can make changes and improvements. So, we wish you insight, tolerance, curiosity and a love of the unknown. Make it a better place.
We also wish patience for both the students and their parents. It takes time for a life to unfold. We all must be prepared for the unexpected and seize opportunities when they arise.
The tossing of the caps into the air, the squirting of Silly String, the launching of balloons and the blaring of air horns signals the beginning. But, this is a beginning built on years of education and maturation.