I wanted to take time this week to extend my personal congratulations to all of the students representing the Class of 2017. Regardless of where you received your diploma, each of these individuals have reached a major milestone in their lives and have earned something no one can take away from them.
During a speech held July 12, 1880, former President James Garfield emphasized that "next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained."
He makes a very important point, especially given how far mankind has progressed over the past 137 years. Humanity has made tremendous strides in medicine along with monumental advances in technology that has electronically connected the entire globe.
Also consider that we are no longer bound to the confines of the Earth. We have conquered the mysteries of flight that allow us to span the globe in hours versus the months it took just to cross the Atlantic Ocean by ship.
In addition to reaching to the skies, mankind has extended its reach to the Moon, the planets and peered into the farthest depths of the universe. Looking at today's generation, I remain confident that they will be the ones that will unlock the mysteries of the universe we have yet to answer.
Locally, we will see society's collective 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 indicated to me that 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.
Recently, however, we saw some very encouraging signs that show that more students in our community are earning their diplomas. At Mountain Home High School, for example, nearly 84 percent of students that start that four-year journey will succeed, which leads the state average.
In short, 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.
I sincerely hope that today's graduates take a moment this week and reflect on what they achieved. It's a significant accomplishment and something that no one can ever take away from them.
But after this week passes, the "real life" begins for these graduates when they join 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.
Those of us who made the same academic journey will likely remember how we all looked forward to graduation day. For my perspective, it represented a chance to gain total independence — a chance to make and follow my own rules.
As I quickly found out, that perspective changes drastically when you realize those freedoms come with a lot of strings attached. These graduates will quickly learn that after this week, the amount of "fun" they experienced will get drastically 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.
Is it 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.
To the students representing the Class of 2017, know that you are ready for these challenges. 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 this year's Crazee Dayz celebration. The festivities officially begin Thursday evening as the community's annual carnival begins.
For the younger generation, the carnival is 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 really get moving on Saturday as the Crazee Dayz festival swings into high gear. Representatives from the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce have "pulled out all the stops" so to speak and have put together a significantly larger celebration.
In addition to a brand new car show that afternoon, they've scheduled a street dance to culminate the day's entertainment. Meanwhile, organizers have nearly two times the number of vendors already signed up to set up booths offering a host of trinkets and treasures.
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 Dayz 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.
— Brian S. Orban