Our congratulations go to the Class of 2016. Whether you will receive your diploma through Mountain Home High School, Bennett Mountain High School, Richard McKenna Charter High School, Glenns Ferry High School, Rimrock Junior and Senior High School or other learning centers, those who step forward to receive their diplomas this week have reached a major milestone in their lives.
Author G.K. Chesterton once said that, "education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another."
Locally, we will see society's soul pass on to hundreds of today's youth who have been granted the keys to what the future has to offer. Some will go on to college or a technical school in hopes of becoming doctors, lawyers or scientists.
Other graduates will go straight into the world of business to gain invaluable experience that will lead them to greater avenues in years to come. A few more have said they will enter the ranks of the U.S. armed forces to carry on a proud tradition of selfless service to their country.
Wherever fate takes them, this year's graduates deserve to feel extremely proud of this accomplishment. Not everyone who starts school actually makes it to graduation day.
Nationwide, school graduation rates are showing signs of gradual improvement over the past 20 years, but they are still a concern. Depending on which statistics you use for comparison, about 20 percent of school age students will never reach the milestone our graduates will meet this week. Some statistics paint a more dire picture; others are more upbeat.
However, our students beat the odds and persevered, despite the ever-increasing amount of education they need simply to graduate. It's a daunting workload that previous generations never had to deal with when they were in school.
Today's graduates should take a moment and reflect on what they achieved. It's a significant accomplishment and one that no one can take away from them.
But after this week passes, the "real life" begins for these graduates -- a world where there are few opportunities for second chances or time to correct mistakes. The protective, sheltered environment that school offered them is gone. A sometimes unforgiving world awaits them.
Some of these graduates will fail while others will succeed. It's nothing personal. It's simply how life really happens.
Oddly enough, many of today's teens have looked forward to graduation day for a long time. For them, it represented a chance for them to gain total independence -- a chance to make and follow their own rules. That will change drastically when they realize they've also gained a tremendous amount of responsibility. From this point, the amount of "fun" in their lives will drastically be cut back if they want to succeed.
From now on, they won't have parents or teachers pushing them to work and study hard or to pick themselves up when they stumble and fall. It's up to each of these graduates to motivate themselves to succeed and to learn from their own mistakes.
Scary? You bet! However, that diploma means they've received the basic tools they need to succeed on their own. How they use those tools will determine their chances of success. Believe it or not, they're ready. Congratulations, and good luck.
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While this week's graduation ceremonies will remain fresh in people's minds, I wanted to take a few minutes to remind everyone that Mountain Home has a couple more great events lined up over the next few days.
The first is Mountain Home's annual Crazee Dayz celebration. The festivities officially begin Thursday evening in the parking lot of the former Paul's Market as the community's annual carnival begins. For the younger generation, it's a chance to enjoy an adrenaline rush by checking out the "white knuckle" attractions in the midway. For others like me, it's simply a chance to relieve a small piece of my childhood.
Things will swing into full gear Saturday morning as the Crazee Daze festival swings into high gear. Booths offering a host of trinkets and treasures will line the streets of the city's downtown area with a full lineup of entertainment planned on the stage next to the city chamber of commerce office.
If you haven't had a chance in the past, take an hour or two out of your day and check out one of the chamber's biggest community events of the year. And while you're checking out all the activities, be sure to stop into the downtown businesses that make events like Crazee Daze possible.
The next major event happens on Monday when the Mountain Home community pauses to remember those who paid the "ultimate sacrifice" in service to their nation. Local military veterans will gather at Mountain View Cemetery to render honors during this year's Memorial Day observance.
It's a very dignified ceremony that really drives home the reason why we celebrate Memorial Day in the first place. For veterans like myself, ceremonies like this really hit home.
While you're planning your Memorial Day weekend activities, please take a minute and pause to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this nation. If you're able, I encourage you to stop by one of the three ceremonies our local American Legion honor guard will support.
You won't be disappointed.
-- Brian S. Orban