Fort Mill Times

Make us proud, Class of 2009

Over the next couple of weeks, seniors at our three local high schools will be striding across the stage to accept their diplomas and take the next step toward adulthood.

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; a gimmick called subprime lending that ravaged the banking industry and triggered the worst economic crisis we've had since the Great Depression; the historic election of the country's first black president; Twitter.

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 play in the World Series 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 2009 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 of the 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 to keep making us - and themselves - proud.