Congratulations, Class of 2016
For more than two thousand young men and women in Charles County, their moment has finally arrived after 13 years of study. Graduation processions for Charles County Public Schools’ seven high schools are taking place this week at North Point High School, and students crossed the stage one by one as their names were called out, shaking hands with the principal and accepting their long-sought-after diplomas.
No longer children, these students are ready for the next phase of their young lives. College, military service, careers, marriage, children and all the other trappings of adult life lie before them. The sky’s the limit.
High school graduation is one of those glorious, momentous milestones — and the only one they will all share and celebrate at the same time, with friends they may have known since prekindergarten. Turning their tassels as one is a truly communal moment in the commencement ceremony.
These graduates have shared a lot, and now they will be going on their separate paths from here on out. You’ll hear lots of talk this week about all of the memories and friendships they pledge to carry with them. What they’ll also carry with them is the valuable education they received in public and private schools in Charles — and the real value of that is something they can’t truly know yet.
Their school careers were judged by numbers on tests and letters on report cards — numbers and letters that have propelled them toward the diplomas they are picking up this week and toward the futures that lie ahead of them. But how their time in the classroom will shape their lives and careers is something that can’t be quantified by those numbers and letters. It will be revealed indirectly in the knowledge and values that inform their choices, and how they meet the challenges they will soon face.
But it would be a mistake and would diminish their achievement so far to suggest that now Charles high school graduates are about to enter the “real world” for the first time. They’d be the first to tell you that high school is certainly already the real world — with all its complexities, its challenges, its accommodations, its obstacles, its joys and its sorrows. Many have had to grow up fast.
Indeed, the path they have already traveled deser ves to be acknowledged, respected and celebrated. These young people have navigated an increasingly rigorous academic path to get to this point. Most of them are much more familiar and comfortable with advancing technology than their elders. And they possess an enviable energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to turn the next corner.
Nobody of any age knows what life has in store for us next, but Charles graduates are hitting the ground running this week. They’ve worked hard, and they deser ve recognition. We salute them.