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Graduation, or being pushed out of the nest - Johnny Jackson

They pull shiny robes over their shoulders and straighten their collars.

With nervous grins on their faces, msany of them cuff their hands together to stimulate blood flow in the body, enough to be ready to strut across those wooden stages to receive the reward for their life's work thus far.

They are the thousands of seniors around the world, who take part in the nerve-wrenching, liberating ordeal that is graduation.

More than getting one's driver's license or having the sweet sixteen birthday celebration, the graduation is a seemingly, near-universal rite of passage that one remembers long after it is over.

High school graduation is the point in one's life where one truly transitions into another world, free of constraint and order, and full of responsibility.

I remember feeling relieved by my high school graduation, which was quickly followed by anxiety and uncertainty.

I had done more than enough to graduate and just enough to be slightly remarkable. The future appeared to be something to look at, starry-eyed, not withstanding the volumes I knew I did not know about a world outside of high school.

What happens when, after the summer, you do not have to return to the spirited hallways of your high school - the brilliant colors of homecoming, glaring off the walls, and posters welcoming you into the halls of your young adulthood?

At graduation, it seems you have reached your first peak. And all you can see in front of you is one huge valley with tremendous white-capped mountains in the distance.

It is enough to keep you motivated in your descent into the reality of the real world. The sight is still monstrous, enough to put the fear of God in you, whenever you stumble along the way.

The treacherous trek, you find years later, has added to your endurance and made you stronger, and you feel like that eaglet that was pushed from the nest. As a graduate, he flies now, at will, around and about the mountains.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.