Graduates are well prepared
This week a few hundred young people in the Brewton area will don caps and gowns and proceed across stages in what most of us recognize as a symbolic passage from childhood to adulthood. Many of them have a few more graduation occasions in their futures, as they go on to college after these few summer months of freedom.
Whether they go straight to work, stay close to home and enroll in community college, or head off to a university, there's one thing we can be confident about -- the Brewton City School System or the Escambia County School System gave them the opportunities to succeed in that next step.
I think Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith made a very good point during a conversation I had with him a few weeks ago. He pointed out that attending a smaller school -- like T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal or Flomaton -- gives each student more opportunities to participate. A smaller student body means that a higher percentage of students can play football or join the band or compete with the math team.
This also means that students in our area school systems have had the benefit of a community environment within their high schools. Among hundreds and hundreds of faces, students, teachers and administrators may not get a chance to really know each other, but in the community environment of our schools, they do have that chance.
Some might argue that coming from a small high school could leave students lost, unprepared and overwhelmed as they enter college, but I disagree.
I graduated from Escambia County High School in Atmore ten years ago and started my freshman year at Auburn University that fall. No doubt the university environment was bigger and very different from what I had always known as "home." But after four years of excelling in a high school where I felt secure and capable, it was easy to apply that confidence in my own ability to the new challenges of college.
If I'm entirely frank, I have to admit that move wasn't the easiest thing to do emotionally, like it won't be for the students and parents preparing for it now. The day I was scheduled to move to Auburn for the first time, I packed my car and got halfway to the interstate before I came back home. But a few days later I was on my way again, to dive in and figure out how to swim.
As they face the challenge of moving on to what comes next, graduates and parents need to remember that the accomplishment of graduation is their ticket to that next step and proof that they can handle it.
My congratulations to all of this year's graduates, and I wish you big luck in making your big plans happen.
This coming Wednesday, The Brewton Standard will include our special 2004 Graduation section, including every graduate from T.R. Miller High School, W.S. Neal High School and Flomaton High School. Be sure to pick one up.
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