When Dustin Hoffman graduated from college and became "The Graduate," he was offered a succinct and stellar piece of advice: "Plastics."
The true meaning was that he should get into plastics, because it surely was going to be a booming industry.
If someone were to whisper a piece of advice to this year's graduates, high school or college, it would not be plastics, but computers, wireless technology or the Internet.
In the next few days, advice will be dispensed left and right to graduates major in this, do that. It is all good advice, but there is so much of it.
I must say, that after covering Steamboat Springs High School for two years, I have the utmost confidence in the millennium graduates.
First of all, they look older than I do (Someone almost handed me senior Courtney Bell's name tag at a meeting a few months ago). Second of all, they are well-spoken and smart. They are compassionate, they are joiners and they are not afraid to speak their minds.
The high schoolers probably think I'm this incredible geek, walking around with my dorky notebook, asking them silly questions, but they generally answer them politely.
I love when I see "my" high schoolers (as I call them) around town. They always say hello, some give me little hugs, they are always polite (although they may drive a little bit fast).
They may not take the advice given to them. They may do their own thing, much to the chagrin of their parents. Most will probably leave the Yampa Valley, delighting in their new liberty, seeing a new city and being anonymous for a few years. Some may come back, most probably will not.
Every year at graduations nationwide, people say that that particular class is the defining one and they tell them to go forth and conquer. The class of 2000 has a good shot of being a defining one by the sheer virtue of when they were born: they are graduating in a year that was feared and celebrated.
They will be known as the students who were in high school when the tragedy at Columbine happened. They are graduating in a time when this country is prospering economically and when the Internet is revolutionizing the workplace. It's a time when half the world is searching for a better quality of life and the other is busy making money.
Expectations are high and rightly so. I know some of these kids and I have high expectations for them.
Last weekend at Hayden, Soroco, Lowell Whiteman and Christian Heritage School graduates were sent to take on new a world their new world. The same will happen this weekend in Steamboat Springs. They will be told to be confident, they will be issued challenges to change things in the world, to do something to good, to do something to make them happy.
The possibilities are endless. And you can bet most won't choose plastics.
Congratulations, Class of 2000.