Life’s best days await new graduates

Published 7:30 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Most of Marengo County’s graduating seniors have either marched to Pomp and Circumstance already or will take that diploma-motivated hike this weekend.

For Demopolis High students, one week remains in their high school days.

What awaits these students is the absolute best part of life: the unknown.

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For 13 years they have gotten out of bed every morning. Most of them have either been given breakfast or the means of getting it. Ditto for lunch.

They sit in classrooms for hours at a time with the knowledge that the day ends just after 3 p.m. There is a ride home of some sort in the parking lot.

For athletes, there has been practice. Then dinner. Homework. A little television. Then do it all over again the next day.

For the last 13 years, decisions have been predetermined, days hung neatly on the framework of a fixed schedule.

Worries? What worries? Sure, there have been the ever-pressing social issues. Disputes with friends. Pining over someone they are dating or wish they were dating. What’s trendy? What’s not? What does the rumor mill have to say? Why can’t I get on Facebook at school?

But that is about the extent of it. There have been no bills. No boss breathing down the neck. No concern over where the next meal is coming from or how it will be funded.

Now, the fun begins. Now is the final exam. Now is the time that each graduate has to hope he has taken sufficient notes over the last 13 years of school.

Because the crux of education is not about books, papers and grades. Its fruits cannot be seen entirely in the classroom. And grades are mile markers, not destinations.

Education is about preparation. It is preparation for the days that will come. It is intended to help normal, everyday, clueless children become productive members of society in some form or another.

Sound boring? Maybe to some. But the truth is that the multi-decade-long final exam these graduates are about to start is what everything up to this point has been all about.

There have been plenty of misinformed well-wishers along the way that have told our young friends, “High school is the best time of your life. Enjoy it.” But those individuals have been inaccurate in their assessment of life and its stages.

The fact is that the next day can be the best day. Everything in life is ahead for these graduates.

There is love. There is adventure. There are children and choices. There are decisions to be made and destinations to be seen.

Above all, there is experience. Whether it is college or a concert with friends, a research project or a road trip, a fast food job or a first date, experience awaits and life is in the acquisition of it.

Whatever awaits our graduating friends, the best part is that it will be on them to decide. No one will make their decisions for them or wrap their days around a predetermined schedule. Their time is theirs to use or waste. Their lives are their own to blaze into history or burn up as they see fit.

Now that all the textbooks are closed and teachers are quiet, the fun really begins. What awaits are endless volumes of blank pages, stories to be written, lives to be lived.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of The Demopolis Times.