Class Of 2017: Go Out And Help Make The World A Better Place

Next week, the South Florida Fairgrounds will host 2017 commencement exercises for the four public high schools serving the western communities. Seminole Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony will lead off the series on Monday, May 22 at noon, followed by Royal Palm Beach High School’s ceremony the same day at 7:30 p.m. Palm Beach Central High School’s ceremony is set for noon on Tuesday, May 23, while Wellington High School concludes the quartet at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 25.

Regardless of the twists and turns that the past dozen years provided students, though, they all have one common bond: the official passage from youth to adulthood. We at the Town-Crier hope they are ready to accept the challenges of joining the adult community. After having survived the pressures of classes, tests and graduation requirements, the Class of 2017 is set to say goodbye to high school and take that fateful walk to shake hands with district administrators, board members and their principals, and receive their diplomas.

For many students, walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas (to be completely accurate, their diploma covers; they receive the actual document after the recessional) is a major achievement. A number of graduates are the first in their family to achieve this educational milestone. For some, it’s the culmination of 12 years of blood, sweat and tears. For others, they had to sweat out the many end-of-course exams and hope their scores were high enough to allow their graduation to take place. Some suffered through helicopter parents; others accomplished it without the benefit of parental support.

There’s bound to be tears — and perhaps a bit of trepidation — as part of the mix of emotions for these young people as they get ready for a new phase of life. But just as they handled what the past years of school and life have tossed their way, these newly minted graduates will find their way (and sometimes without GPS assistance). Some are headed off to four-year colleges and universities. Others will continue their education through programs offered locally, such as at Palm Beach State College. Many have decided on military service or are entering the work force; there are also those who have opted to take a year before committing to the direction they wish to take. And there’s nothing wrong with any of these options.

Class of 2017, you are entering a time of transformation. Yes, change can be scary and difficult. But luckily, you’re still at that stage of life where you can make and change career decisions without long-term negative impacts. Be ready to take on a major challenge: becoming the person you want to be in life. Know what you want and have some idea of how you will get there — and never stop moving forward. It’s all good. Life is more of a marathon than a sprint. And these years of schooling provided each graduate with the preparations necessary to compete.

Graduates: Be proud. Be excited. Be relieved. But most of all, be smart, and help make the world a better place for everyone. We’re counting on you!