Con­grat­u­la­tions, Class of 2016

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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.

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