Advice for Hernando County graduates: Live what you've learned

The pomp and the circumstance continue on Wednesday with commencement scheduled for Central High School. By Friday evening, the Hernando County School District will have sent 1,442 seniors from the graduation stage to the next stage in life.

That stage will bring fears shared by the rest of us. There is double-digit unemployment or the potential for downsizing for those who have a job. Attempts at qualifying for a mortgage can be disheartening. In the immediate future, scraping together money for the prom, yearbook and car insurance now pales to financing a college education.

So, let's set aside the depressing finances and consider that the next stage also will bring joys shared by the rest of us — continued intellectual stimulation, public service, beginning and advancing work careers, starting families and still more friendships.

And, it will bring never-ending, unsolicited advice, a sample of which now follows:

• Be willing to honor your commitments. It's okay to climb the ladder to success, but you shouldn't treat your current bosses like they're a rung under your feet.

• Be involved. Complaining about taxes is how some do it, but we recommend trying for broader public participation in civic activities. Think of it as doing the fundraising carwash, the walk-a-thon or some other community service effort because you want to, not because you have to.

• Be forgiving. It's an appropriate message this commencement season in both Pasco and Hernando counties, where senior pranks collected plenty of news coverage.

• Be responsible. If you've received multiple warnings that choices carry consequences, don't be surprised when they actually do.

• Be adventurous (within reason). Drag racing on public streets isn't cool, but there are opportunities to sky dive, surf, boat, or ride a roller coaster within a few minutes drive. You'll enjoy the rush and have a story to tell the offspring someday.

• Be challenged and don't be complacent with just getting by. Earning a C in life means you muffed half the opportunities.

• Be appreciative of history. In just your senior year of high school, you've witnessed historic moments in the World Series, on Election Day, at the inauguration, on the Springstead High School basketball court, and now with a U.S. Supreme Court nomination. You're also living through an economic recession unrivaled in 50 years — something else to tell the kids someday.

• Be patient, particularly behind the wheel of a car. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teenagers ages 16 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are enough roadside memorials around the roads already.

• Be smart. Failing to wear a seat belt drives up those fatalities.

•  Be sensible. Text messaging while driving is problematic, too.

• Be an advocate. Standing on the sidelines is too easy and just plain unproductive.

• Be accommodating. Remember the times friends offered a ride home, help with homework or loaned you lunch money? If they don't have the same memories of you providing them assistance then you are too much of a taker and not enough of a giver.

• Be independent. Helicopter parents can't do everything for you.

• Be a contributor to the public dialogue and don't mistake bullying and hurling insults as a satisfactory substitute for engaging in a debate.

• Be willing to take ownership of your work. Sign a letter to the editor, instead of blogging anonymously.

• Be able to admit mistakes. We all make them and will continue to do so. Successful people learn from their gaffes and minimize them in the future.

• Be generous with your gratitude. Pre-K, elementary, middle and high school teachers just spent more than 13 years helping to shape your intellect. You owe them a thank you.

• Be yourself.

Advice for Hernando County graduates: Live what you've learned 06/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 1, 2009 5:44pm]

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