Graduating from high school is one of life’s most memorable mileposts, as unique as one’s first day at school, one’s wedding and the birth of one’s first child.
The members of this year’s graduating class have never known a world that didn’t include microwave ovens, cellphones, iPods, iPads and DVDs. The personal computers that were standard in their birth years would seem as slow and clunky to them today as a Model T would have seemed to their Mustang, Firebird and Camera-driving parents at a comparable age. They are utterly at home with a wide variety of audio and computer gadgetry that remains a mystery to most of their elders. Many of them started learning to text almost as soon as they learned to talk — or at least it seems that way to their parents.
Most members of the Class of ’13 were born midway through Bill Clinton’s presidency and were just entering grammar school on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. But that event has shaped their lives — and will continue to do so — in ways that many of them may not even comprehend.
Their school career has played out against a backdrop of far-off wars. Some of their older brothers and sisters and friends are in uniform, many of whom have already served overseas and returned, and some of whom are now overseas in harm’s way. That goes for some of their parents as well. And some of this spring’s graduating seniors will soon be in uniform as well, and we reserve an especially proud salute for them.
Unfortunately, this is a tough economic market to be plunging into for those of this year’s graduates who don’t plan to immediately pursue a college degree or enter the military. And they are reaching adulthood in an era when Americans are more politically polarized than at any time in at least a generation.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing, then, about the Class of ’13 is how normal it is. Today’s teens are perhaps more worldly than their predecessors, but are still motivated by the usual teen things — the desire for good grades, finding a date for the prom, wearing the latest fashions, getting a driver’s license and a car, etc. — and not necessarily in that order.
Whether a graduate of one of the county’s oldest high schools or its newest, these young people are encouraged to do their utmost to continue fulfilling the expectations of their families and communities.
It took a lot of hard work for the Class of ’13 to arrive where it is, but if its members keep it up, they’ll find the realization of their hopes and dreams is just beginning.