To the graduates: Good luck and Godspeed

Hundreds of young people across our county will embark on a new journey Friday and Saturday, saying goodbye to the familiar and, in many ways, welcoming the unknown.

Beginning at Lakewood Friday at 10 a.m. and continuing through Saturday when Clinton’s seniors walk the stage, students at Midway, Lakewood, Hobbton, Union and Clinton will turn their tassels toward the future, opening as yet unopened doors and peeking into a tomorrow that stands ready for them.

Our prayer is that they enjoy these last moments of high school revelry, be safe as they begin to celebrate the end of 12 years of public education and get ready for the journey ahead, one that will be exhilarating and filled with a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, mistakes and successes and uncharted waters waiting for their vessels to set sail upon.

We’ve offered advice to graduates year after year, encouraging each one to cherish the memories they’ve made and to be true to themselves as they accept the challenges they will now face as young adults, challenges to their humility, to their faith, to their loyalty and to the principles they’ve been taught since children.

This year we add to the list, these things to consider:

• Don’t be afraid of fear. It sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; because when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self, wise words from actor/comedian Ed Helm;
• Remember to serve. Giving of oneself is important, serving others a calling we also should heed. Never forget those who were responsible for the new band uniforms, the stadium seating, the cupcake party, the smartboards and the iPads; they are the civic and community leaders who we hope you will become so the generations that follow you will have the same support you were blessed to have;
• Make wise choices. Sure you will make mistakes because we are all human, but learn from them and avoid making the same one’s twice. That comes with making wise choices, understanding that the choices you make today will bring the consequences you must face – and live with – tomorrow.
• Don’t succumb to peer pressure. If you thought the pressures would end when high school became nothing more than a cherished memory, you were wrong. Peer pressure continues as adults, as the stakes become higher and the choices become more difficult. Stay true to your beliefs and remember the wise choices from above, allowing common sense and your conscience to always be your guide;
• Recall Jimmy Iovine’s words often: “That diploma you hold in your hands today is really just your learner’s permit for the rest of the drive through life. Remember, you don’t have to be smarter than the next person, all you have to do is be willing to work harder than the next person.”

• Don’t look for the easy road; search for the less traveled one, understanding that no one became great by taking the easy way out of anything. Woody Hayes said it best : “You’ll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. Never.”

• Follow the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and “let all things be done decently and in order.” Think about it.

• Stay humble. We want each of our graduates to be extremely successful and to bring their knowledge and talents back home to Sampson County so that our community can benefit from the you you have become, but always remember what Tim Minchin said, no matter how successful or how powerful … “Respect people with less power than you. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most powerful cat in the room, you will be judged on how you treat the least powerful.”

• And be kind. It takes no money and little time, but it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone else, and it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

Congratulations graduates on the remarkable journey you end this week and good luck and Godspeed on the one you will embark upon now.