Our congratulations go to the Class of 2012. Whether you received your diploma through Mountain Home High School, Richard McKenna Charter High School or other learning centers, those who stepped forward to receive their diplomas reached a major milestone in their lives.
For many who graduated this month, these ceremonies were just the first steps to improving their future. Some will go on to college or a technical school in hopes of becoming doctors, lawyers or scientists. Others will go straight into the world of business to gain invaluable experience that will lead them to greater avenues in years to come.
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 drop-out rates remain at historically high levels. Simply put, about a third of today's school age students never reach the milestone our graduates met this month.
Our students beat the odds and persevered. They 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 today, 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.
-- Brian S. Orban