On Friday night, May 20, 2011, yet another class will don red and black caps and gowns and march across the field in Jimmy Swain Stadium to accept diplomas and become Appling County High School’s newest alumni. Families and friends sit proudly in the bleachers, waiting to hug and congratulate them. Teachers smile as graduates march by. We’ve nurtured and taught them for four years now. The time has come round for them to move on. The ritual happens every year at this time. As “Pomp and Circumstance” floats on the evening air, every class marches in, each different, yet all very much the same.
Several graduates have already committed themselves to the military and to the honorable task of serving this country. They’ll trade in their band or football uniforms for the more somber colors of the armed forces. Their plans are big ones, and I am thankful that they are willing to step into this monumental role. I pray for safety and learning for each of them.
Many of our students will be trying to join the workforce. Their task will be a daunting one in today’s economy. They may have to do serious and constant searching for quite a while before they succeed, but I am convinced that most people who really want to work can find something. For this group I pray for patience and stamina. May the rest of the workforce move over a smidgen and make room for them.
Colleges all over Georgia will welcome many of our graduates in the fall. Students have reserved dorm rooms at Agnes Scott, UGA, Georgia Southern, and Valdosta and paid miscellaneous fees. They’ve filled out mountains of paperwork, written financial aid essays, applied for fee waivers, and worried.
“Are we really ready?”
They’ve been asking themselves that question for months now. I feel certain that they are. When the nervousness goes away in the fall and they’ve left Baxley behind, they’ll step up and do what they must. They might not do it very efficiently to start with, but they’ll learn just as every generation must. C’est la vie! For this group I pray for the stamina to clutch their goals all the tighter when the hard times come, for come they surely will. They have the strength to overcome obstacles though. They might have to dig down deep for it, but it’s there.
My generation was dubbed the Baby Boomers for obvious reasons. If I had the job of labeling this class with such a title, it might very well be the technology generation. They can mend the computer glitch and multitask like no generation before them. Their thumbs fly over the cell phone keys at the speed of light, sending a message off into cyberspace before I can get off one sentence. Of course, they don’t bother much with good grammar or good spelling, but they communicate nonetheless. It’s a different world they’re moving into. What’s out there for them? Who knows? Not us. Not them. We can only sit back to watch as they step out to take the reins of the future. We, their parents, their teachers, their well-wishers, would do well to do a lot of praying. They’ll need it and they’ll need to know we’re here behind them when they need us. Hopefully, we have their backs (in their terminology) and enough sense to let them learn some hard lessons on their own.
When the lights go down in the stadium next Friday night, when the last tear has fallen and the last hug shared, when the hats have flown into the dark night sky, may these graduates leave high school with a sense of expectancy for the future and grow into the fine young men and women that they are capable of becoming.