Congratulations to the graduates

By April Avison

Here it is – my eagerly-anticipated annual column of congratulations and advice to our local high school graduates.

This is something I write each year because it's important to me. I graduated from high school almost a decade ago, and I don't have a close connection to any of our local graduates, but I'm excited for each and every one of them.

I get excited when graduation rolls around each year because I know what an exciting time it is for these young people who are moving forward with their lives. I love to see their parents cheer for them as they walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. There is always an air of pride and confidence that floats over a graduation ceremony.

Many adults have forgotten that high school isn't easy. As we get older, we block out the memories of stressing over a calculus exam or the intense fear of rejection when asking someone to the prom. Years later those experiences don't seem quite as revolutionary, and we eventually reach a point where we can even joke about them.

But when you're in the midst of those high school years, life is tough. In a typical day, a high school student wakes up early faced with the arduous task of making themselves presentable to their judgmental classmates. Then they're faced with a full day of classes – answering questions, taking exams and attempting to digest an incredible amount of knowledge. After school comes athletic or extracurricular activities. By the time the student gets home, they're exhausted, but there's homework to be done. And in between all the responsibility, there's the all-important social status that has to be maintained.

In the "real world," life isn't so bad. Products of our local school system are well-equipped to go on to college or find good jobs. They've got a lot to look forward to. I think some of the most difficult times of their lives are behind them now.

College is such a wonderful learning experience and offers a new freedom and self-discovery that just doesn't exist in high school. And the "real world" is even better. As Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy tells his employees, if you find a job you really enjoy, you never work a day in your life.

So congratulations to all the graduates. Know that you have a lot to look forward to and a lot of great experiences in your future. I believe that the choices you make are going to matter more as you get older, but your life will become more fulfilling and more rewarding.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.