A message to all graduates

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

To the graduates of Covington County, we offer our congratulations and best wishes. We know that you have worked hard to reach this level in your life, and that it is a day filled with mixed emotions.

Joy. Sadness. Disbelief. And yes, even a little excitement and fright.

You have reached a milestone in life. Something no one can ever take away from you, but no matter what, you must remember

this is not the end

but only the beginning of the most magnificent journey you can take. A trip into adulthood.

Although many of you have chosen to continue your education, and many have elected to seek employment, remember this - life is a continuing learning experience.

Tonight, as you receive your diplomas, your hearts full of a sense of accomplishment - and your family full of pride - take the time to reflect on where you've been and savor every moment with each other.

Remember the good times. Kindergarten, field trips, that special teacher, your first football game. Remember the bad times. Your first bad grade, falling "up" the stairs or in the hallway, the teacher who gave you a hard time, and the loss of fellow classmates.

They are all the things that make your educational experience so special.

They are the things that have made you so special to each other.

In 10 years, when you gather together once again as a class, some of you won't be there. Prior commitments, great distances, and yes, even death.

Graduation is not the end. It is only the beginning. You have that new-found freedom, but please be careful with it.

We don't want to be writing the stories about tragedy after graduation.

Tonight is that important night for freedom. It's like something you've never experienced before. Don't use it all up in one night. You've got a lifetime yet to live.

Graduates, still listen to your parents and elders. Just because you've graduated doesn't mean you instantly have all the answers. Heed their advice. Listen to them. They still have much to teach you and much wisdom to offer.

You've come this far, but still have farther to travel.

Live for the moment, but have enough restraint to know right from wrong.

Love each other and never forget. It's been a journey as many, and now it becomes a journey of one.