06/10/07 — Next step: Life

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Next step: Life

Today, more than 1,100 Wayne County seniors can officially call themselves high school graduates.

For some, it will be a summer of work and fun and then off to college.

For others, the job world beckons.

All of them have one thing in common — a reason to be proud of what they have achieved.

But that was just book-learning. What comes next will be even more of a challenge.

So, here is a message for those who have just joined the ranks of adulthood — and a vote of confidence for the future.

To the Class of 2007:

The next few years will be full of memories as you officially start that journey toward the next phase of your life — independence.

You will be tested along the way — asked to govern yourself and to know the difference between fun and excess.

You will be asked to make choices with no one but yourself there to know the decision you have made. You will be asked to apply the lessons your family has taught you — even when no one is there to make sure you do.

It won’t be easy. There is a reason it is called temptation. Resist the urge to ignore your upbringing and what you know is right. The action will be harder now, but you will be so glad later. Trust us, we have been there.

You will have times when you do not feel like being responsible or worrying about the future. There will be days when you wish you were back in high school and someone else was worrying about grades, bills and jobs. Don’t worry we all have them — even when we are closing in on middle age.

Pick your dream and stay the course. No matter how hard it gets or how many times you fail, pick yourself up and try again. It is through that effort to improve yourself that you will grow many times over.

Remember that you have a responsibility, not just to your family, but to yourself. Strive to be the best you you can be. Never settle for less than your best — and never allow anyone to make you feel bad about who you are. Having confidence in yourself is the first step to being at peace with yourself.

And don’t forget those you have left behind. Remember your roots and be proud of where you started. Your place of residence might changes over the years, but no matter where you are, home will always be the centerpoint in your compass. Your differences and backgrounds are what make you strong. Share your values and your uniqueness with the world — and be prepared to learn from them, too.

And last, but not least, please have fun. These will be some of the best years of your life — and the most pivotal to your future. Live life like you mean it. You only get one chance.

And, while you are at it, write your moms, dads and grandparents. Remember, no matter what your age, to them, you will always be their little boy or girl.

Congratulations. We know you will make us proud.

Published in Editorials on June 10, 2007 12:00 AM