Congratulations, Seniors! Your time is finally here.
Graduation - what a fine word that is.
I bet you never thought you'd see the day. You thought your time in public school would drag on for eternity and you'd die with your head buried in a textbook.
Or maybe you thought you'd die if you had to bury your head in a textbook.
Either way, you made it to the finish line and what a race it's been.
Remember your first day in high school? Maybe you were a little intimidated - afraid you were "freshmeat" and the upperclassmen would be cruel...
But it wasn't all that bad.
You made it through and you were better for it.
Sure, you might have gotten lost. You might have sat halfway through a class before you realized you were in the wrong room.
You might have been that one unfortunate classmate whose locker wouldn't open...or maybe you weren't assigned one at all, or didn't find where it was until the next quarter.
But you made it through and you were better for it.
Along the way you were happy to make new friends. I mean really good ones. The kind you'll know for the rest of your life and the kind who could make you smile with a simple word.
You were also probably really sad when you lost some friends. Some really good ones. The kind you thought you'd know the rest of your life and whose loss you felt deeply, even if you never admitted it.
But its okay, you made it through and you were better for it.
Naturally, you struggled with some classes, or maybe just a class. There were moments when you didn't achieve the grades you wanted or thought you could have done better, pushed yourself harder.
But that's behind you now. You made it through and you're better for it.
Breathe a sigh of relief. High school is over. Tonight, or tomorrow, you'll get your hard-earned diploma (or an empty certificate holder and a promise you can pick up the real thing next week) and be all the better for it.
Of course, now the real hard work begins. You're an adult now and your responsibilities have changed.
You see, your parents or guardians, teachers and counselors, aren't going to be the ones pushing you to succeed. They'll lend some helping hands - offer some more than valuable advice, but the choice is now really all yours.
Graduation is a chance to truly define yourself.
Are you going to be a working stiff? Going from the classroom into the workplace.
Are you going to be academic? From one school to another, learning and earning degrees.
Maybe you'll sign up with Uncle Sam - combining work and education while protecting the country.
No matter which route you take, life as an adult will be tough. You'll be challenged like never before. You'll struggle. You'll always be out of money and sometimes you may even feel alone.
But those are the times when you'll find you are stronger than you thought. Those are the times you've got to remember everything you've learned about life - that it can be intimidating, happy and sad. You'll struggle and push yourself harder than you knew you could, but one day, you'll look back on it all and you'll say, "I made it through and I'm better for it."