Last Saturday, members of Fort Mill High School's Class of 2008 accepted their diplomas and took a giant stride toward adulthood. A week earlier, their Indian Land High School peers did the same.
Where did the time go?
To some of these young men and women, it undoubtedly must have seemed as if the clocks were barely advancing. That's how it usually seems at that age. They'll learn soon enough how the hands tend to fly.
Consider all that's occurred since they started their journey: the Sept. 11 attacks and resulting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; our national economy tanked; New Orleans and the the Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and residents are still recovering. On the lighter side, we all learned how to survive during the TV writers strike. We'd also be remiss not to mention the birth and meteoritic rise of two phenomena that are a big part of our teens' lives: YouTube and MySpace.
Each new generation is defined by popular culture and rites of passage, including anxiety over world events and what the future holds. Fortunately, our grads are going out into the world with a quality education made possible by top-notch educators and supportive parents who are active in our schools.
This crop of newly minted high school graduates includes future scientists and engineers; they are novelists, poets, musicians and painters. They will treat the ill and nurture new lives. Some will keep our precious machines working and others will invent new ones. Many, deeply touched by their schooling, are sure to become teachers. There will be lawyers and legislators. Perhaps we will see one of our former prep athletes on center court at Wimbledon or on stage at Lincoln Center.
More than a few will wear the uniforms of the U.S. military and fight for our freedom. Our future heroes will be police officers and firefighters.
As we all do, each of these graduates has an opportunity to make the world a better place. The difference between them and past and future generations is momentum. As they propel themselves toward higher education, careers and families, they do so with more energy than they'll ever have.
Combine that with the wisdom and clarity that will come to them in the next four years and beyond, and the Class of 2008 will be a positive force for change. We hope even those students laser focused on a particular course of study or career will also avail themselves ofthe many opportunities they will have to learn and grow and become well-rounded individuals. They are role models for rising seniors at Fort Mill, Nation Ford and Indian Land high schools and, we hope they follow the tradition of other alumni by coming home now and then to mentor younger students.
Graduating high school is comparable to stepping on a compass in that individuals are heading in different degrees to rendezvous with the future. As our grads pursue their dreams, we want them to remember they are ambassadors for Fort Mill, Indian Land, Tega Cay and Van Wyck and we ask them keep making us - and themselves - proud.