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2012 graduates, the future is yours ---- Seize it, but enjoy the tripPosted Monday, May 21, 2012, at 2:06 PM
Another group of several hundred Greene County 12th-grade students are preparing to turn their tassels and let mortarboard caps fly into the air in the next few weeks.
Commencement exercises will soon be hosted at the five Greene County high schools signifying graduation of another group of youngsters, who are now ready to advance to the next phase of their lives.
What would you tell the graduates, if given the opportunity?
You might do well to start with the words of Dr. Seuss who said, "Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
Mark Twain once gave this wise advice to young people, "Always do right -- this will gratify some and astonish the rest."
Albert Einstein, the famous German physicist, spoke memorable words to affirm the importance of life-long learning. He said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
It's a fact that education does not end with graduation day. The school of real-life has many valuable lessons to offer.
Now is a time for the 2012 graduates to recall where they've been and where they're going.
There's been much debate in recent years about the state of Indiana's educational system that has been politicized way too much.
Speaking frankly, there has to be a fundamental transformation in the way we think about investing in our children's education.
They need more freedom to dream, freedom to experiment, freedom to innovate, freedom to think, freedom to invent.
They need to learn a consistent work ethic, problem-solving and teamwork.
They have to know how to use a lathe, how to weld, how to solder, how to use a hammer, how to manufacture things.
They cannot be led to believe that everything is going to be made in some other country.
Innovation must start at home in our own state, our county, our backyards and schoolhouses.
You cannot make a path for the future if you don't know how to use any of the tools that will get you there.
Strides are being made in our local school districts.
We see some wonderful things happening in and around our community with the continued growth and development of the WestGate at Crane Technology Park.
We need to support efforts in our schools for increased funding and better curriculum for science, technology, engineering and math classes, as well as hands-on training programs.
We need to encourage students to be involved in very worthwhile programs, like Project Lead the Way (PLTW), STEM and Lego robotics.
Candi (Lang) Hamilton, PLTW teacher at Bloomfield Junior-Senior High School, once explained to me about her class.
She said, "In these classes students learn to work as a team, problem-solve, and work through their frustrations to figure things out. We have a lot of 'ah-ha' moments, and those are very cool to observe."
We need to cherish those "ah-ha" moments and foster learning that will bring more and more of these memorable educational nuggets into the lives our of young people.
It's our road map for the future and more and more local jobs in those essential areas of learning are popping up.
In this graduation season, we need to be thankful for the support our students receive from the professionals at NSA Crane and a host of defense contractors in our area, who are willing to go the extra mile to better prepare our students for future jobs in their companies by giving their after-school time to share their expertise with our young minds while they are busy everyday protecting this nation's defense through military innovation, technology advancement, weapons development and testing.
In parting words to this year's class of seniors, I would remind each to honor and serve God above all else, even when it's not easy or the cool thing to do.
You graduates should also:
* Be mindful of what you say, how you dress, and how you treat others.
* Pause before you post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites because what you post is always public.
* Stay current with events in your community and the world around us by reading your local newspaper.
* Take advantage of the technology that is at your fingertips, but the best form of communication is still face-to-face and not texted or emailed.
* Take some time to unplug those electronic devices and connect with others, especially those closest to you, like your family.
* Forgive others and forgive yourself for yours and their shortcomings.
Be mindful that you are the children who danced in the sunshine, the young people who dream of changing the world.
You are the best that you can imagine, a bundle of possibilities yearning to be fulfilled.
Congratulations to all in the class of 2012.
The future is yours. Seize it, but enjoy the trip.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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