Graduation is not an ending, but a beginning

Published 2:22 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

This week, another school year will end. The last days for Carter County Schools before summer vacation begins is Friday, May 26. Elizabethton City Schools will close Tuesday.
Graduation for seniors in both the city and county took place this week. Most area colleges have already had their graduations, as well.
It has been a good year for local schools. The Carter County School Board Thursday evening honored several students for achievements this past year, in both academics and sports.
Twelve students from Unaka and Cloudland High were recognized for completing the Certified Nursing Assistant Program. They are ready to begin work. A number of graduating seniors have received scholarships to two-year and four-year colleges and will be furthering their education.
Some will be focused on a summer job that give them a competitive advantage when they get to college.
But, for now the countdown is on for the last official day of school, when there will be no more homework, no more books, and no more teachers’ dirty looks, no more report cards, no more band rehearsals, track meets. For now, the endless expanse of summer vacation awaits. It means trips to the ball park, time at the swimming pool, biking, drippy ice cream cones, and the crack of bats at the Little League baseball diamonds. It may mean just hanging out with your best of best friends.
For better or worse, the last day of school stands out as a permanent marker of time, as parents know their children have grown another year older and another year closer to independence. It can be bittersweet, with pride in their accomplishments mixed with the knowledge that they’ll never be this age again.
For those students graduating from high school and college, the ceremonies serve to only mark the beginning of something new — more school, a job. For college students, earning that long-sought degree can mean a lot of things. It represents a lot of hard work and dedication, and it should make them feel confident they can take that next step. For most, that degree means entering the workforce, preferably in a field of their choice.
Graduation is a milestone and a memory to treasure. It has been a cycle — from kindergarten through junior high and then high school and finally finishing college. Each grade has presented a new challenge and a new experience which has resulted in growth and knowledge and preparation for life after school.
For some teachers, the end of school will mean retirement, the end of a formal career and all that goes with it — not the least of which is providing for their families. To do that for a lot of years is no small feat. Like attending school, it takes dedication, a strong work ethic and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, regardless of the job or level of responsibility.
We congratulate both our graduates and teachers on a job well done this school year.
But, before you know it, the endless summer will be racing toward that bite in the air that signals Labor Day, back-to-school sales, and all the excitement that comes with a new grade, a new class, new classmates, a new teacher, and new things to learn.
But, for now, enjoy the summer!

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