This weekend is a monumental milestone in the lives of many young people in our area, as high schools in Fulton and Montgomery counties celebrate that annual rite of passage known as graduation.
Much of the ceremonies will focus on the memories and accomplishments our children have made during the past 13 years. The recognition is well-deserved, and finishing high school is an accomplishment to be proud of.
There's a reason, however, why these events have the word "commencement" attached to them. That's because graduations aren't the end of the road. In fact, it's the on-ramp to life's superhighway.
We hope you're ready, class of 2013.
Starting with kindergarten, schools are there to prepare our young people for adulthood. The reading, writing and arithmetic, along with the names and dates of world and American history and other skills such as art, music and physical education, are nothing more than a foundation. It's up to every high school graduate to determine what kind of house is built upon it.
Some will continue their education. Others will join the military. Several will immediately enter the work force. There's nothing wrong with any of those options. The important thing, grads, is that you have an obligation to yourselves and the rest of us to make a positive contribution to life on this third rock from the sun.
Your parents and teachers have invested a lot of time and money into making sure you're ready for the real world, which isn't going to be as kind or as forgiving as life with mom and dad has been.
Many of you will accept your diplomas, turn your tassels and walk off the stage thinking that society owes you long life, health and happiness. In fact, the opposite is true. You owe the rest of us.
It isn't hard to pay that debt, however. The solution is simple. Put 100 percent into whatever you choose to do. Make sure your adult years are spent making life around you better. Work hard and play hard. Everything else is just gravy.
You already have the tools to do all of this. How you choose to use them is entirely up to you.
But, for now, congratulations are in order to the class of 2013. Go ahead and celebrate (just make sure you party safely). This weekend is all about you.
After that, the real life's work begins. Make sure you do it well.