Shine on, Class of 2015

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015

As is tradition, Southampton Academy has the grand honor of kicking off the high school graduation season in Western Tidewater. They did so on May 30.

SA was followed by Isle of Wight Academy on June 5. Franklin High School and Windsor High School are up next, and the big day is June 12. The final commencement will be given at Southampton High School on June 13.

The rooms will be packed. Parents, teachers, administrators and family and friends will cheer. The more exuberant members of these graduates’ families may even blow air horns, ring bells and generally raise a ruckus when sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters receive their diploma.

For all the excitement over the handoff, someone visiting from another planet might reasonably conclude that the diploma itself is the star of these graduation ceremony, with the speakers adding color commentary to the distribution of these valuable tokens.

But the rest of us know the stars are the flat-hatted, betasselled and nylon-robed teens who truly become young adults as they walk from one side of the stage to the other. The diploma is a symbol of the accomplishment of completing Virginia’s mandatory educational requirements. But it’s also a token granting graduates passage into the community of adult citizens, and those newly minted adults seem to shine brightest on the stage of the high school commencement ceremony.

Every decision made from the moment they step from that stage will either polish or tarnish that shine, and nobody walks far without losing some of the luster. The key is to recognize that a little elbow grease can restore the shine lost to all but the very worst decisions.

In case you miss it or forget the big speech from your own graduation, there it is, all distilled into one paragraph. And here it is in one sentence: Don’t be afraid to take chances or even to fail; you can do great things if you’ll just press your own boundaries.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015. We have great expectations for you.