EDITORIAL: The Class of 2011

By NEMS Daily Journal

Hundreds of Northeast Mississippi’s best and brightest young adults will graduate this week from the region’s high schools, the first educational benchmark that opens doors to multiple choices for hopes, dreams and determination.
Sometimes, a VIP makes a commencement unique, as did President Obama this week in Memphis for the Class of 2011 at Booker T. Washington High School, winner of the nationwide Race to the Top Competition to get the presidential address.
Obama, who admitted he is sentimental and emotional about graduations, offered some insights worth sharing with every graduating class:
– “… I want to recognize all the people who helped you reach this milestone: the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors who have loved you and stood behind you every step of the way.”
Every student in every school deserves an equal measure of that devotion.
– “…We are here today because every single one of you stood up and said, ‘Yes we can.’ Yes we can learn. Yes we can succeed. You decided that you weren’t going to be defined by where you came from, but by where you want to go – by what you want to achieve, by the dreams you hope to fulfill.”
Every student and every school in need of success can merit that same praise with achievement. Too many high schools in our region are at risk and under-perform; too many students drop out. It can be overcome.
– “Today, BTW is a place that has proven why we can’t accept any excuses when it comes to education; that in the United States of America, we should never accept anything less than the best our children have to offer.”
Too many parents, students, teachers, board members and administrators make excuses. BTW high school acted – and succeeded.
– “I’m standing here as president because of the education I received.”
You can dislike Obama’s policies and politics, but he’s got it right about education and personal achievement.
– “Education also teaches you the value of discipline – that the greatest rewards come not from instant gratification, but from sustained effort and hard work.”
Obama is talking about a character trait necessary for success.
– “The success of our economy will depend on your skills, but the success of our community will depend on your ability to follow the Golden Rule – to treat others as you would like to be treated.”
That’s about the most basic of all values, and if not practiced there’s trouble.
Every speaker can say the same basic things, and they will be as important.

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