A word to the graduates

For hundreds across Franklin County, this is a time of frenzied excitement and celebration. It’s high school graduation season.

Let us join the teachers, administrators, advisers – and of course, the mothers and fathers – who are brimming with pride for the senior Red Devils, Tigers, Bulldogs, Bobcats, Wildcats and Golden Tigers who will walk across that stage, turn their tassels and step forward into the next phase of their lives. We congratulate you for the work you have put into your education to this point, and we join the chorus of voices wishing you the best for your future.

Thirteen or fourteen years – depending on whether you attended Pre-K – of organized education have come to their fruition. You have studied, experimented, researched and analyzed your way through thousands of assignments to get where you are today. With the tireless instruction of teachers, committed to seeing you progress; wisdom of guidance counselors and mentors, who were driven to help you be your best; and encouragement and unconditional love from parents, who knew you could do it – you have reached the pinnacle.

At least, the pinnacle of this phase.

Now you face an exciting new chapter in your lives, and we encourage you to boldly embrace whatever is coming next.

Some of you will choose higher education, a secondary degree or a certification program – whether you choose a two-year degree or buckle down for 13 years of undergraduate, master’s and doctorate work.

Some of you have opportunities to go straight into the workforce, finding an outlet for a long-lived passion, innate skill or invincible drive to achieve your dreams. Some will choose another path that is neither college nor workforce.

Whatever your choice, we wish you all the best as you go forward in life.

Former President Barack Obama reportedly said in his commencement speech to Howard University in 2016, “When your journey seems too hard, and when you run into a chorus of cynics who tell you that you’re being foolish to keep believing or that you can’t do something, or that you should just give up, or you should just settle – you might say to yourself a little phrase that I’ve found handy these last eight years: Yes, we can.”

We hope you will embrace that same spirit of tenacity, that same commitment to achieving your goals and dreams for yourself.

We also like the sentiment of a certain illustrious doctor – Dr. Seuss. Theodor Seuss Geisel, in his last book published in his lifetime, shared words of advice that have become perennial favorites to share with graduates as they turn the page to the next chapter:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Whatever path you choose, we urge you to take agency over your life – to make good decisions that will shape a positive future.

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Congratulations!

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