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Have You Ever Thought Of the Difference between Graduation and Commencement?
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With May coming to an end, most schools are ending their academic year.   This is the time for the issuing of diplomas as students complete their work at a given school.  Most universities and colleges have already had their commencements. For the three high schools of Newton County this coming weekend is when the Commencements will be held.  All three will be at the Springfield Baptist Church.

Alcovy goes first this year with its turn starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 26.   And on the next day at 9 a.m. is Newton’s turn and at 3 p.m, Eastside will conclude the day.

We tend to use the terms “graduation” and “commencement” almost interchangeably.  And while both are used to describe what has happened to some and will happen in the days ahead for others as they finish this phase of their education.  There is a world of difference between the focus of the two terms.

Congratulations to all those who have finished a part of their educational pursuit.   We are all proud of you.  And wish you the best in the years ahead.   Congratulations to the families of each graduate.  It took a family to nurture each graduate through their formative years to reach the point we are celebrating.   Encouragement and support is so vital to those seeking to grow in their skills and knowledge.  There were many late hours of study that led to these days of celebrating.

Congratulations to the educators of our community as well.  It takes great skill to teach those in your charge.  Patience and caring for your students play a very vital role in their success.  The very future of our community and country are in your hands, year after year.

And while I don’t want to take away any of the excitement about what it means to graduate, remember it is not only an achievement but a challenge.  Now as you finish one part of your life, you commence on the next phase.

I would warn those who are graduating to prepare themselves for some surprises.  As we journey through life, most discover that each level we achieve becomes more challenging and more difficult.  New opportunities are there but with each new opportunity comes the new challenges.   Commencement is not a time to stop, but to go and grow.   The years of learning completed means the graduate is ready for more.  We must continue to grow for we are living in an ever changing world.

For some, it is on to the next level of your education.  It may be to one of our local colleges or you may be packing up to go elsewhere to enter the world of “higher education.”   Others will choose to seek employment, while others may volunteer to enter the military.   Whatever route you choose, I wish you great success.

The workforce you will be entering now or later is very different than the one you parents or grandparents entered.  The world has shrunk and competition is found from all corners of the world.   Technology has meant some jobs have disappeared, while many more have appeared.

You can see that in our local economy.  Last week there was news about a job fair coming this summer for those seeking to work at The Three Rings Studio being built here in Covington.   Some of these openings will call for some additional training.  I urge those interested to find out what is needed and seek to get the training you need.

Another example of change and growth is down at Exit 101 on I-20.  As Shire is close to being ready for production, there will be many opportunities to be a part of a very advanced manufacturing center. Someday this facility will employ around 1,500.  Again, you may need to seek additional training.

There are many other opportunities right here in our area.  But as a graduate you must not think you are entitled.  You have to take what you have learned and build on it.  The door of opportunity is before you, but you have to seek it and go through it.

Where ever tomorrow may be leading you, keep on learning.  Not only in the field that you work, but in all phases of living.  Your diploma represents that you have earned a foundation to build on for your future.  Grow in your involvement in the community.  Seek to be an informed and involved citizen.  Seek each day to make the world better for those who follow you in the years to come.